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Dungeons & Dragons

Season 1 Episode 1

The Night Of No Tomorrow

Aired Saturday 12:30 PM Sep 17, 1983 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
30 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

The Night Of No Tomorrow
Dungeon Master sends the children northward to the town of Helix to attend a local dragon-banishment celebration. On the way they meet Merlin in his magnificentssky castle. The wizard offers to make Presto his apprentice, only if the young mage chooses to leave his friends and stay there for the rest of his life. But is Merlin's once-in-a-lifetime offer all that it appears?moreless

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  • Dungeon Master sends the kids to the town of Helix, but on the way they encounter Merlin the Magician. After they help him out of a spot of bother, he makes Presto an offer he can't refuse; but is all as it seems? Took a while to pull me in, but not bad..moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    'Dungeons & Dragons' was shown here in the U.K. by BBC One (sometimes BBC Two) from 1984, being repeated occasionally into the very early 1990s. I enjoyed it as a child (anything with dragons and magic and such I enjoyed!), but at the same time, it was never quite one of my "front line" favourites as a child. I was always confused how it tied into the Dungeons & Dragons role playing games (though, being 7 at the time, I knew nothing about them other than the name, but even so I always wondered if I was "missing something").

    It never reached the giddying heights of my beloved 'Masters of the Universe' as a kid, and there were even "lesser" 1980s animated adventure shows, such as the excellent 'Ulysses 31', that I generally enjoyed a lot more, but as a watch-regularly-but-not-lose-sleep-if-I-missed-an-ep, D&D was pretty good fun.

    I picked up the complete DVD collection a couple of years ago (being a vintage DVD nut, of which I do a lot about on-line, I got it for reference if nothing else), but hadn't actually popped in any of the disks until tonight. Before that, I haven't seen a single ep of D&D in well over 20 years.

    So, after seeing an episode of D&D for the first time in over 20 years, what did I think?

    Well… the first few minutes, I wasn't too sure about. It was okay, but a little "meh", lacking the interesting stories of the likes of 'Thundercats', or the stronger days of 'MOTU', or earlier seasons of 'The Real Ghostbusters', etc. I thought it would be a fun nostalgia trip, but didn't think I'd get much out of it.

    But steadily, the story picked up (and also I began to get reacquainted with the characters), and after a rather unsure opening to the tale, the more interesting plot of Presto being made an offer he can't refuse by Merlin began to set in.

    By the way, with it actually being one of the genre from that era that I'm less familiar with, I couldn't remember if there was a "proper" opening episode, with the kids being whisked off to the Realm. As this opening episode proves, there isn't; it's got the standard "how they got there" beginning, and after that, we're into a pretty typical story that could slot in just about anywhere in the show's run.

    The revelation that Merlin is actually Venger in disguise (who'da guessed it!?) is quite a twist, and, after the shaky first few minutes, the bulk of the latter part of the story plays out well. The only thing I did feel though, was that those limp first few minutes (complete with clunky "Don't forget about Tiamat the dragon, folks" lead in), could have been better spent setting the stage for the rest of the episode.

    It certainly brought the memories flooding back, though. As a boy, the spoiled snob Eric was always fun, but my personal favourite was always (and I think is when watching again now) Presto; I've always loved nerdy characters.

    By the way, I didn't actually make the connection until recent years that Eric is voiced by none other than Donald "Ralph Malph from Happy Days" Most. And although most would associate Peter Cullen, who voices Venger, with his work on 'Transformers', I always think of him as the voice of K.A.R.R. in 'Knight Rider' (one of my all-time favourite TV series).

    Diana gets very little dialogue or very little to do, which is something I seem to recall from all those years ago as being a regular thing; and to a lesser extent, Sheila similarly has little to really do. The writers always seemed to enjoy writing for the male characters more. Oh, and even as a kid I thought Bobby was a bit of a brat – I never "related" to him!

    DVD-wise, I found the picture to be incredibly sharp, actually possibly the best of the various 1980s animated TV shows I have on DVD (many of them look to be literally dumped off of faded, blurry old film prints with little if any clean-up). The sound, however, was a bit more uneven, with the volume sometimes changing a bit, and some of the backing score a bit muffled in placed. I did remember that great "da... dah. Da... DAAHH" action music though, from all those years ago!

    All-in-all, with respect to the legions of loyal fans who I know love this series, the show still isn't one of my personal "all-time favourites". BUT, it is great fun in its own right, and actually, considering it's nearly 30 years old, it holds up pretty well. I look forward to watching the rest of the episodes (which I also hope to review), and hope my recollections of some much stronger episodes, is right. I give this first episode, "The Night of No Tomorrow", a fair 8 out of 10.moreless
  • An entertaining enough episode, but the blatant attempts to string the viewer along with the "white hair/hare" play on words made even this (at the time of its original airing, 12 year old) fan cringe.moreless

    An entertaining enough episode, but the blatant attempts to string the viewer along with the "white hair/hare" play on words made even this (at the time of its original airing, 12 year old) fan cringe. Still, you have to hand to the kids for dealing with both of their heavy-hitter enemies in one show. Whenever "Helix" was mentioned, I couldn't help but think of the Canadian 80's rock group (gimme an "R" "O" "C" "K", what ya got, "ROCK", and what ya goona do, "ROCK YOU!"). Liked Eric's "steed".

    "Ralph Mouth" from Happy Days as the voice of Eric? Pure voice-casting genius.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Dungeon Master's Dubious Dictum of the Day:
      Now, on your way you must fear only the many faces of evil...all known as Venger. You shall know his newest face by his white hair (hare?).

    • In this episode, Venger tricks Presto into undoing the late Merlin's magic spell of binding the dragons of Helix. Which somewhat contradicts the D&D gaming system's rules that one mage can't 'undo' the magic of another mage.

    • The wizard Merlin first made his literary apperance in the Arthurian legends of early 10th C. England. Then, he was counselor and magician to the 'once and future' king of the British Isles. He was also rumored to be 'immortal' by being born old and progessively growing younger as time passed. No mention, though, if he had a white hare.

  • QUOTES (5)

  • NOTES (0)