Thursday, July 08, 2010

Dungeons & Dragons: The TV Series

I was having a conversation with Tiny at the end of this week’s session about the Dungeons & Dragons movies. He’s of the opinion that there is no way to make a D&D movie that doesn’t suck; too much of the fun in D&D is about the wacky bullshit people do around the table. I am of the opinion that a good fantasy movie set in one of the many D&D settings would be indistinguishable from the many decent fantasy and science fiction movies of recent years. I mean, change the names and some of the set-dressing, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy could just as easily have been called Dungeons & Dragons, and it wouldn’t have made the movies any better or worse.

The problem with D&D on screen is that no one really knows how to handle it. With the first movie, there was an obvious lack of direction; the creators apparently didn’t know if they wanted the movie to be funny, serious, wacky, surreal, realistic, or what. As a result, it ended up being none of those things. It was just a big fucking mess. The second movie had more an idea what it wanted to be, but what it wanted to be was something that was decidedly not Dungeons & Dragons. It was overly serious in tone, lacked anything closely resembling emotional connection, and was more like watching a documentary about Dungeons & Dragons than a good movie.

So what does a D&D movie want to be?

A series.

There’s a lot of evidence that a series could handle D&D in ways that a movie really couldn’t.

A D&D series might not look too terribly different from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, honestly. There would be an ensemble cast, monsters, magic, a billion fight scenes, wicked humor, powerful emotional experiences and plots that involve fighting a Big Bad or seven every season.

Hercules and Xena proved we can do fantasy on screen with a large enough audience to keep a series afloat. Those series, too, had an effective combination of action and fantasy and humor.

There’s no reason we should assume that D&D would not make for a strong television series with strong role-models like these to build off of. And with the envelope constantly being pushed to bigger and better things (Game of Thrones anyone?), it can only be assumed that a D&D series, handled well, would be bigger and better than any of it’s fantasy television predecessors.

Just a thought.


Johnni said...

Do you think that the actual D&D playing public will take great attachment to it or will it be used more as another tool to bring awareness to the D&D name and hopefully draw potential new players to the hobby? I can see the argument either way as there are a bunch of novels out there.
I only ask this because I see it as D&D being about me and my friends fleshing out a world. By having specifics, I'm might be satisfied by seeing the fantasy world on screen but not by the actual hands on charm that D&D has. Not quite sure how to word it but I think I'm trying to play in how the Twilight phenomenon kicked in. The main chick is so generic that many female readers can potentially insert themselves into her shoes. D&D the show, might have to play into those almost generic tropes to let players watching to easily be able to immerse themselves from that "player level" but then you risk having bad writing. Not trying to shoot down the idea bro. I guess I'm trying to detach D&D: The TV Series from my mind as a the show based on the RPG but more as the show based on the world associated with D&D. That make sense?

Matt said...

D&D WAS a TV series.

And yes, it was fairly successful.