Message modified by user Tannhaeuser 4/8/2011, 6:09 am
This is a question we actually have thrashed out before. The main reason that there is no new version of Dungeons & Dragons is simply that the cartoon was not all that successful, and whoever it is who does own the rights to it (the unclarity of which is another difficulty) does not particularly want to risk the substantial amount of money it would take to revive the show on what was, even in its own time, a financial flop.
Dungeons & Dragons actually failed to appeal even to its target audience, most of whom regarded it as too much of a kiddie show and not really representative of the game (though why they should have been better judges of that than Gary Gygax escapes my comprehension). I suspect more than one of them were outraged by the fact that it seemed to reproduce in a fantastic world the very high school hierarchy that they played D&D to escape: the jocks Hank and Diana in the leadership rôles, the rich preppy Eric fairly high, and the nerd Presto only barely inching out the jock’s girlfriend’s little brother in social status.
To be brutally honest, Dungeons & Dragons, by modern standards of animation and animation writing, is not that good a show. Its character design is derivative (Karena, for instance, looks like a million other animated girls) and the animation is frequently sloppy (should one mention Hank’s patented disappearing tights?). The writing is really good only by comparison with what had been going on in the decade or so before it. Sure, there were strong episodes like “Child of the Stargazer”; there were also very weak ones like “The Lost Children.”
Besides that, Dungeons & Dragons is very much tied to its own time. It was riding along the wave of popularity that heroic fantasy was enjoying in the 1980’s, the thing that inspired such cultural artifacts as the films The Black Cauldron, Legend , The Sword and the Sorceror, The Flight of Dragons, and The Last Unicorn, the TV series Wizards and Warriors, and the paintings of the Brothers Hildebrandt, not to mention the reprinting of many classic works of heroic fantasy under the auspices of publishers like Ballantine. Nowadays fantasy has splintered into a number of different forms, but most tend to be either set in our own “primary” world or satirical in nature.
The cartoon is tied to its own time in another way, too. Most of what we love about it is strongly tied to the characters, and they are strongly tied to the voice actors who played them. Although I’m sure Peter Cullen and Frank Welker would be perfectly ready to resume their parts, does anyone want to hear a fifty-eight year old Eric, fifty-one year old Hank, a forty-three year old Presto, or a thirty-eight year old Bobby? (Dungeon Master and Shadow Demon would have to speak from beyond the grave.)
Even the game that inspired the series is now defunct, or, at least, so altered that it bears little resemblance to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game that the series was meant to emulate.
Frankly, I’d rather keep my memories of the old show intact, than have them sullied by trying to revive directly in any kind of revamped form. An entirely new heroic fantasy series, perhaps inspired by the game, perhaps not, would be more to my taste. Besides, heh, it’s hard enough to get people to produce fanfics and fanart — I really can’t see anyone devoting the Titanic effort that would be required to make even a five minute cartoon. Better just to be content with the DVDs.
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