Dungeons & Dragons - Volume 2 Review
Ranger, Cavalier, Acrobat, Thief, Wizard and Barbarian continue their intrepid journey through the realm of Dungeons and Dragons as Venger hunts them down for their magical weapons. As new trials await them, the team of friends try to cope with their responsibilities as they strive to get home in Volume 2 of the popular 80's animated series.
The episodes here don't greatly differ from those seen in Volume 1, and without any overall story arc each episode stands well on its own. Not every episode features the gang searching for a portal, giving the writers more time to flesh the characters out, which makes for some decent thematic moments as each character continues to get his or her own moment in the spotlight. In the case of Volume 2 it is Bobby who has a couple of episodes dedicated to him, and Presto who has a mission all of his own later on.
Episodes like the season two opener The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow offers a little more emotional content than we've come to expect, with the characters facing important decisions and further going to show that the series isn't as one dimensional as a slew of others made during the same era. The writers genuinely have a lot of care for the characters they’re writing about, and with several of them swapping script duties the series stays sharp and interesting.
Volume 2 of the series contains the following episodes:
Servant of Evil
It is Bobby's birthday and the gang have brought him various gifts to celebrate the occasion. All is ruined however when everyone except Bobby are captured and taken to Venger's Prison of Agony. Bobby and Uni, with the help of Dungeon Master set out to rescue their friends with the help of a giant called Karox.
Quest of the Skeleton Warrior
Dekkion - an enslaved skeleton warrior who has been spellbound by the wicked Venger claims to have found the "Circle of Power", located in the Lost Tower of the Celestial Knights. Being under Venger's spell, Dekkion cannot enter the tower and enlists the help of the young heroes who are pure of heart, believing he speaks the truth about his enslavement. As soon as the group enter the tower they begin to see many illusions and must face their greatest fears in order to succeed in their quest.
The Garden of Zinn
In an attempt to catch food the kids accidentally capture a dragon turtle that proceeds to attack them. During the fight Bobby is bitten and poisoned. Dungeon Master tells the kids they must seek a natural element to cure his wound, for Dungeon Master does not posses the power to undo that of nature's will. The kids must search for the foot of a yellow dragon, leaving behind Sheila to tend after her brother along with Solarz - a creature they have recently met. The kids arrive at the garden of Queen Zinn and must avoid the trickery that is present in order to bring back the antidote.
The kids find a mysterious box after a sudden earthquake splits the ground in two. Dungeon Master informs them that the box is that of Zandora - an old friend of his. The box is a magical container that can unleash good or bad things, depending on where it is opened and more importantly is also a key for the kids to get back home. They must free Zandora first from her imprisonment so that she can tell them where to place the box in order to return home, but Venger is soon hot on their trail and will not allow them to succeed.
The Lost Children
Dungeon Master tells the kids that there is a ship held at Venger's castle that will help them return home. Along their way they meet a group of lost children who tell them that their elder, Alfour has been captured and held within the walls of Venger's castle. Hank and Co agree to help the children rescue Alfour and free the ship.
P-R-E-S-T-O Spells Disaster
Presto manages to yet again screw up a spell, sending his friends to a giant's castle up in the sky. Now Presto and Uni have to climb the tower, where they not only have to save their friends but also the last of the golden dragons, but first they must get past the giant and his slime beast, Willy.
The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow
The kids find a roller coaster car that looks just like the one that they entered the realm in. Soon they find a lost girl named Terri who can dream the future. She had been transported into this world and her new friends vow to help her return and just maybe they can go back with her.
Contender Entertainment put out another seven episodes for this release, on a nicely produced DVD featuring exclusive sleeve artwork.
Gone are the problems found with the transfer on Volume 1 - this time we have a very nice looking and consistent image that is surprisingly clean and detailed with no major artefacts or tape conversion faults.
Presented in its original 2.0 mono track the series sounds as good as can be expected. Turning the sub woofer up slightly provides a bit of an extra oomph, though nothing outstanding. The dialogue and sound effects are clear with only a slight hissing going on in the background.
As with the first volume, Contender Entertainment has made a commendable effort in this department…
Lee Binding, Faye Keenan, Dave Newman and James Etok return to provide two audio commentaries for the episodes Servant of Evil and The Girl Who Dreamed Tomorrow. Much like the previous episodes they spoke on the contributors offer some interesting facts and provide a lot of humour throughout - pointing out all the stuff that is genuinely amusing in the series. They also go on to discuss a few fan favourites and the more serious side behind the characters.
Interview with Michael Reaves
Lasting for approximately 14 minutes, Michael Reaves discusses his experiences in working on season 2 of the series. Arguably considered to have provided the darkest episodes of the series' run he offers some fond recollections and talks about how proud he is to have contributed the series and provided several memorable episodes that fans continue to discuss after all these years.
Title Sequence Featurette
For the second season of the series the producers decided that they would like to see an all new introduction that would depict the children as being more confident in their surroundings. Included here is that new introduction, with storyboards although it is on poor quality tape and has degraded (due to it no longer being available on any other format). The intro was dropped and season two ended up airing with the original intro sequence.
Lengthy profiles for Presto and Venger are available that offer a good amount of facts, some of which don't crop up until later episodes.
Placing the DVD in your PC will allow access to the complete script for Servant of Evil.
Dungeons & Dragons Volume 2 has a couple of memorable episodes, some of which are considered fan favourites and for those who still love the series then this DVD is great value for money. Personally I am looking forward to Volume 3, particularly because several of Michael Reave's scripted episodes will appear. Stay tuned for when I bring you the next review for this highly enjoyable series.