Dungeons & Dragons

Common Sense Media says

Dated swords’n’sorcery cartoon series pumps up teamwork.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Litte to learn from watching this show.

Positive messages

Teamwork is the best, sometimes the only, way to tackle big challenges. When the kids can’t agree on a plan, they often fail to achieve their goals, but when they do work together, they are always successful. The mysterious Dungeon Master encourages them to collaborate, and offers clues to help them figure out the best course of action.

Positive role models

Each of the characters clearly fits into a standard role -- the spoiled rich guy, the brainy-but-awkward nerd, the brave hero, etc. Some might seem like better role models than others, but they work well together, making use of each person’s respective strengths, to escape from the myriad dangers of the magical realm.

Violence & scariness

There are plenty of fight sequences, though little real combat in this animated swords’n’sorcery show. Instead of a swordfight, for example, the characters might trap a monster in a cave, or knock a pile of books onto a villain and then run away. In fact, almost nobody even seems to carry weapons; the knights have shields, but no swords, a magic bow is used to shoot enchanted arrows that might knock objects into a foe, but never actually draw blood.

Sexy stuff

No sex, sexual references, or even flirting, though one female character has a skimpy outfit.

Language

Calling someone a “bozo” is as rough as it gets here.

Consumerism

The series, as the name implies, is based on Dungeons and Dragons, the role-playing game that was so popular in the 1980s when this show was first broadcast. There was plenty of related merchandise at the time, and the show promotes the venerable role-playing game upon which it was based.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic animated series follows the adventures of a group of kids who are magically transported to a mysterious land, and must try to find their way home. Each becomes a specialized type of stock swords’n’sorcery character (the knight, the wizard, the acrobat, etc.), and there is a strong emphasis on teamwork as they work together to overcome various villains and monsters. The series shows its age (it was made in the mid-'80s), but the fantasy-setting might appeal to tweens and older kids.

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What's the story?

Six kids are magically transported to a mysterious realm of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, populated by wizards, unicorns, warlocks, and other fantastical beings. Each is transformed into a specialized type of character -- the magician, the knight, the barbarian, the acrobat -- and they must work together to find their way home. The enigmatic Dungeon Master sometimes appears to give them guidance and clues, directing them from one adventure to the next in this animated series based on an enormously popular role-playing game.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This series was originally developed as a companion to the popular role-playing game of the same name, and its efforts to fit into the D&D structure is now, decades later, somewhat limiting. People who remember the game will know why the mysterious guide is named Dungeon Master (the term for the person who guided players through the games -- a laborious task long since handed over to computers), but today it might seem confusing -- there really aren’t many dungeons on the series. And why does Dungeon Master make such a big deal about each character’s specialized type? The answer is because these classes were very important in the game, but they don’t add very much to plot here.

Because it is explicitly linked to a game that is no longer popular, the series is dated. Elements that made sense to gamers then may not make sense to kids who are now unfamiliar with the conventions of the original game. Without that connection, the show seems like just another old TV series with standard villains, predictable plots, and so-so animation. It could have nostalgia value for adults with fond memories of playing, or watching, Dungeons & Dragons, but is unlikely to win new fans.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about teamwork. Each character has specialized skills. How do they all work together to overcome challenges?

  • The show was based on the wildly popular Dungeons & Dragons game. How do you think the series hold up, years after the game has faded from popular culture?

TV details

Cast:Don Most, Katie Leigh, Willie Aames
Network:CBS
Genre:Kids' Animation
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD

This review of Dungeons & Dragons was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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