Late last night, I added the complete Dungeons & Dragons animated series to my shelf of TV shows I've watched. The DVD extras were nice, but I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed the episodes themselves. Though the first season rambled a bit, there was a definite progression of character development and storyline, and even the occasional moral. The episodes I remembered were nostalgically appreciated, and the handful I'd never seen before (mostly the third season) were undiscovered treasures.
But that wasn't the best part.
Among my thousands of comic books is Forgotten Realms: The Grand Tour, a promotional book published by the makers of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The final panel shows our six young warriors, only not so young: they are now grown, haggard, and defeated. Their faces informed us of our complicit guilt: "You may've forgotten us, but we're still stuck here."
It so often almost wasn't the case. They came so close so many times, only to turn back or be foiled, resigning themselves to their cursed, inverse Narnia. We've all had that experience: placing second in a competition, or a series of job interviews that goes well but results in no offer — always a breath away from our dreams. Only these kids were fighting for hearth and home — for relief from their heartache and their parents'.
And they always failed. I introduced the series to a friend and tried to explain the magnitude, the enormity, of the kids' situation. They were designed to be like us, and so a part of us was trapped in the Realm with them. It's not just that they were stuck there for a few seasons: they've been there for 24 years. Since the show never brought any resolution to their plight, we can only assume it has, and will, continue indefinitely.
But apparently closure was intended, with an unproduced script that — like the fifth season of Buffy, seventh season of MST3K, or series finale of Voyager — afforded the writers the option of either ending or continuing the series. Series writer Michael Reeves released the script for that lost episode as a PDF on his web site four years ago. I downloaded it at that time, but whether by intention or oversight, I never read it.
That episode, "Requiem", is included on the DVD set in radio play format. Voice actors include the original Sheila, a minor role in this episode; a passable Hank, Eric, and Dungeon Master; and atrocious Diana and Presto, voiced by preteens sounding younger than Bobby. And the background music and sound effects were rampant and random. But the story is more than sound: it's complete. It's like discovering what happened to a relative who disappeared in the night. Where did he go? Is he okay? Is he happy? We may never know…
Now we do. Hank, Eric, Bobby, Sheila, Presto and Diana once were lost, but now are found. And we can all rest more easily for it.