Whilst I’m not currently reading a book comprehensively i.e. one at a time consistently, I have finally just finished reading the draft script for the final and unproduced episode of Dungeons & Dragons (80’s popular cartoon, ‘D&D’).
The script is available here: http://web.archive.org/web/20110720142026/http://www.michaelreaves.com/pdf/requiem_sec.pdf
Reading it confirmed suspicions I had at the time; mainly:
1) I don’t remember any notable mention of dungeons, nothing to warrant the title of the cartoon, unlike the dragons of which there were aplenty and of course their nemesis the multi-headed Red dragon (with different coloured heads) Tiamat (alot of interesting names & info in this cartoon). So I thought the realm itself may be a dungeon (like the phrase ‘prison planet’ for Earth).
2) I never liked the way Dungeon Master (DM) used to bait the kids with the prospect of going home (almost every episode) when he seemingly knew it wouldn’t happen and had overarching plans for them. This was confirmed to me before reading the above script when he said Venger (Vr) was his pupil and that group of soldier corpses in Vr’s maze had also been his pupils. Whilst DM’s position wasn’t clear at the time, especially with the episode where he made Eric an honorary version of himself and how difficult it is to convey prophecy in a way that those you’re trying to warn is understandable and believable, it did seem to me that he used the possibility of going home like dangling a carrot before them to string them along. All whilst knowing that they were the type of people who wanted to help others and who would endure their own situation longer and/or worsening to do so anyway.
That was emphasized to me in later episodes where he said they’d now taken their first step to going home and that they were now worthy. So what about all those times before when he made them honestly think they had a chance, no matter how slim or when his riddles were more likely figured out in hindsight?
3) Vr was DM’s son. I’m not going to say that is a spoiler because I remember him calling Vr that in one episode.
From the script it’s strange comparing his reactions to what happens to Vr in the finale to what happened to Vr’s sister and presumably his daughter Karena in the latter part of the cartoon. He doesn’t seem anywhere near as moved by her release nor it seems had a big tribute/alter for her.
Interestingly enough Micheal Reaves said this about rumours that were circulating about D&D:
Until I received several pieces of email recently, the combined gist of which is that there are rumors abounding on the Net and the Web about a last episode of the show, either scripted and never produced, or produced and never aired, in which we learn that the kids actually died on the rollercoaster that supposedly took them into the Realm, and that they are, in fact, imprisoned in Hell and being tormented with a complex fantasy (as if just being in Hell wouldn’t be torment enough) by the Devil masquerading as Dungeon Master, and do I have any words to share with the masses about this issue?
Yes: Bushwah, poppycock and balderdash.
Interesting. Whilst I never thought they’d died on the roller coaster or that they’d gone to ‘Hell’ or that DM was the ‘Devil’ – after reading the script I think that the last two points are a matter of semantics. The dialogue itself, specifically from Hank and confirmed in the last scenes show that the realm is a prison and so comparing it to Hell or a dungeon world or dimension isn’t far off. In addition to what I’ve described above, the final game/bet DM plays with Vr with the kids as pawns very much insinuates that DM is a kind of trickster/taunter/manipulator/orchestrator/false light or what have you. I guess if you’re saying the realm and DM are the biblical Hell and Devil (though then you’d have to get into the various personalities described under the umbrella term ‘Devil’) it’s easy to say no they’re not; but the symbology is there. If the episode had been made and aired under the tenuous title ‘Redeemer’ instead of ‘Requiem’ it could have fueled the critics more.
He went on to say:
There is no such episode, as even a moment’s rational thought would reveal. D&D was a very dark, edgy show for its time — sort of the Gargoyles of the Eighties — and credit must go to Judy Price, then president of Childrens’ Programming for CBS, for taking a chance on it and not playing it safe and slapping another Care Bears clone on the air instead. We took the show about as far as you could go on kids’ TV at the time; as an example, the script for The Dragons’ Graveyard (a second season episode I wrote), in which the kids contemplate killing Venger in order to find a way home, caused a battle royale with Broadcast Standards and Practices. The chances of an episode with a plot like the one described above even making it past an initial three-line pitch were — and still are — about as likely as Superman snorting Kryptonite.
I actually thought the 80’s had alot of dark and edgy or serious cartoons along with the sweeter, cuter ones of which many still had sensitively handled serious issues. For example I and other kids I knew were into The Mysterious Cities of Gold, She-Ra, He-Man, Thundercats, Captain Planet, Ghostbusters, David the Gnome, Teenage Mutant ‘Hero’ Turtles, X-Men, Spiderman, Beetlejuice, Transformers to name some. Then ongoing greats from before the 80’s like TinTin.
Plus I remember times when the kids in D&D wondered if Vr had been killed, or it seemed that way (certainly by the way he would be disintegrated or exploded) as opposed to defeated but still alive , either by their or the actions of others. Heck he and many other characters from the same and other cartoons were getting pummelled and destroyed in numerous and varied ways.
Anyway to this day D&D remains popular, watchable & intriguing and there are the games, magazines, books etc as well as memories that help keep the fandom going.