Nostalgic Bookshelf

Snarky recaps of nostalgic media, including Making Out, Baywatch, Blyton and Baby-Sitter's Club
22
Mar 2018
Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2

Dungeons & Dragons (TV Series 1983–1985)

Title: The Eye of the Behoder

Summary: Led by a cowardly knight named Sir John, the children must seek and destroy an evil monster known as The Beholder to find a gateway back to their own world.

Initial Thoughts:

Oooh, exciting! The Beholder is a classic DnD monster. For those not in the know, it’s basically a massive eyeball and chompy mouth with snakey tentacles coming off it. Here’s a classic image:

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Beholder

Kang.

Pretty much a hulked-out Mike Wazowski.

I’m sure that the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon series will show this stellar enemy in a rightfully respectful light.

I HATE THIS SERIES.

[Dove: I love this series. And even I want to kick the writers quite often.]

Recap:

After the usual codswallop gumbo of an intro, we see our intrepid “heroes” toiling under the oppressive heat of quadruple suns. While the party witter on about the heat, That Fucking Unicorn randomly gets sand kicked into its bleating face by mysterious of-screen antagonists.

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Uni

Here’s mud in your eye.

Actually, not a bad start. Let’s repeat the scene, but with acid.

Eric the Cavalier – the voice of reason in this godforsaken plane, apparently – shares a story of his safari trip, as the temperature seems apropos to their situation. The punchline? Eric wad been rescued from his plight by a gardener in a golf cart. The safari was actually in Eric’s back yard.

Why am I conjuring up images of a whole slew of elderly retainers dressed as foxes being chased by Eric and family, each riding hard on the backs of their own personal valets.

Hank the Ranger lets slip this episode’s plot device: They have been tasked with heading towards the setting suns. Eric disagrees, the party quarrel, and That Fucking Unicorn snuffles deep into the ground in search of the source of her muddy facial.

Suddenly, a FUCK-OFF GREAT BIG SCORPION THING appears!

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Scorpion

The most dangerous pinata.

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?

[Dove: Kinda reminds me of the 80s version of this…

happy bug meme

]

Like, okay, the tail and body and legs and pincers are all decent. Standard scorpion fare. And I suppose the colours are forgivable, even if “Disco Funfair” isn’t a particularly threatening palette. But THAT FACE. Seriously. Let’s zoom in a little to appreciate it in all its glory…

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Scorpion

Big and stupid.

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?

I get the eyes, I suppose. And I sort of get the tusk things. But the weird black bat-signal in the centre is awful. It actually looks like a void space, as if this bug thing is actually one large purple tube.

Everyone legs it. Thanks a lot, That Fucking Unicorn.

As they flee and scream – remember, last episode they DEFEATED A MULTI-HEADED DRACONIC GODDESS… TWICE – they bump into a fat armour-wearing moustachioed knight. THIS prick:

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Sir John

The moustache ACTUALLY OVERLAPS HIS HELMET.

He overhears Hank doing the play-by-play, deduces the scorpion is a legitimate terror, and fucks off into a cave. The party, and the purple tube monster, run past.

The craven knight exits the cave, happy that he avoided the danger. Only to find that the cave housed… a dragon!

SERIOUSLY.

STOP SPAMMING DRAGONS.

THEY AREN’T BLOODY COCKROACHES.

The party dash into a crevice cave, safe in the knowledge that the scorpion is too big to follow. Meanwhile, the cowardly knight is chased by the cave-dragon towards the scorpion.

The scorpion chases the knight back towards the dragon.

And then, predictably (and actually quite nicely), we have some Dragon-on—Scorpion action. The dragon uses its lightning breath weapon to drive the scorpion away, as the knight cowers between them.

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Dragon

Dragon 2: Electric Boogaloo

Of course, once the party emerge from the crevice to see that the scorpion has disappeared, and the pursuing dragon is nowhere to be seen, they jump to the conclusion that the “brave” knight has scared the scorpion away.

I SMELL A SITCOM!

The knight – with his posh English accent that makes me want to punch a wall – claims he heroism is all in a day’s work for a noble night. Cue a woeful “where do you learn this stuff?” / “Knight school” joke for which Eric the Cavalier should be ashamed.

The knight bids our heroes a farewell, revealing that his name is…

Sir John, Official Protector of the Village of Pindred, and Battler of Beasts, Dragons and Demons.

Then, like a fart in a bath, the Dungeon Master bubbles up to stink out the joint.

Dungeon Master reveals there is a possible way for the party to exit the realm, but it is very dangerous. He opens up a portal / mirror thing to show them (us).

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Dungeon Master

Just open an orange ring and we’re good.

Apparently, to the east there lies a desolate land called the Valley of the Beholder. Once beautiful, the land had fallen foul of the episode’s titular terror. And here he is:

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Beholder

That’s one fucked-up cauliflower.

To be fair, that’s pretty decent. It’s a bit testicular, but I’ll allow it.

So, to get home, they have to defeat the floaty eye-brain-toothy thing as he guards the path back to their world. Also, there’s a riddle, as is the DM’s annoying way:

“Sometimes, by looking back, you can see a clearer path through what lies ahead… but beware, for only beauty can defeat the eye of the Beholder.”

Eric complains, and the Dungeon Master wanders off and disappears. Standard.

That Fucking Unicorn then bleats, and Bobby the Barbarian stands “looking back” where they came from. For some reason, this leads Hank to deduce that the thing they need to defeat the beholder is…. Sir John. Because he was in their past.

GET FUCKED.

What about the scorpion? THAT was also in their past. Maybe they need to set that on the Beholder. One jab of the stinger into the centre of its eye and it’ll drop like a sack of spuds.

Let’s go further back, shall we? What about Tiamat from last episode? The MULTI-HEADED DRACONIC GODDESS is also in their past, and I feel it’d be a damn sight more effective than a prattling armoured nonce.

Fuck it, set VENGER on the Beholder. HE’S also in their past. Or what about the rollercoaster? The random Zappa peed from the ride queue? Hell, how about ANYTHING from before they arrived in this idiotic realm?

SUCH BULLSHIT.

To be fair, if they believe Sir John is THE VANQUISHER OF SCORPIONS, then I guess their plan isn’t entirely asinine. That Fucking Unicorn acts as bloodhound, and begins tracking Sir John into an unexplicable forest of mushrooms. No, really.

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Mushroom Forest

Badger Badger Badger Badger…

We cut to Sir John, who is (presumably) in the village of Pindred. He’s before some sort of tribunal, and the apparent Mayor is branding Sir John a coward. This SJ, it seems, is no W(arrior).

He’s there with his son. What it this, Take Your Kid To Work Tribunal Day?

Hang on…. What the hell was this odd little man doing out in the middle of nowhere when he met the party? There was literally nothing nearby, except baddies and caves of various size.

Anyway, Sir John’s son is distressed by his father’s lack of employability. There are no towns left to “protect” for this coward, it seems. Pindred vow to replace him with serious defence muscle, should the appropriate opportunity arise. After a small bout of pleading, the mayor agrees to let Sir John stay if he performs one feat of extreme bravery.

Get your cock out and slap the Mayor on the cheek with it, Sir John. No way that wouldn’t be seen as anything less than a bold move. [Dove: Just how desperate is the village of Pindred? Surely his kid would be a better protector?]

Back in the Fungi Forest…

Eric: Boy, I don’t think I’ll ever eat mushrooms again.

Diana: I don’t think you could eat these mushrooms!

Sheila: This place gives me goosebumps.

ERMAHGERD! GERSBERMS!

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Goosebumps

ERMAHGERD!

From behind the stalks, multiple red eyes stare malevolently. Presto is tasked with using magic to defeat these unseen hissing bellends. He conjures a birthday cake, replete with candles, to throw light into the shadows.

The… things… are disoriented by the flickering flames. What are they? FUCK KNOWS. Some sort of diabolical snails?

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Snails

Legitimately disturbing.

Unfortunately, That Fucking Unicorn’s tail tickles Bobby’s nose, and the resulting sneeze extinguishes the cake’s candles. You asshat, Presto! Why not conjure a bloody spotlight or something? Hank saves the day with magical firework arrows from his bow. Because they are totally a thing. [Dove: *grumbles* Oh just you wait. That bow can do anything. I bet it has a NSFW setting, that is only available on Dungeons & Dragons: After Dark.]

The demon snails fuck off, at first. Until they don’t, and they begin lassoing the party with their feelers, and bundling everyone into sacks.

Presto fights back! He attempts a bit of rhyming magic.

Presto: Powers that come and go in the night, banish these snail things from my sight!

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Presto Bucket

Presto looks a little pail.

… Job done, I guess?

(Actually laughed out loud at that one. Very Monkey’s Paw.)

As Bobby is bundled into a bag, he barks an order to That Fucking Unicorn. Fly like the wind, go find Sir John!

That Fucking Unicorn escapes. Though how exactly it’ll pass on a complicated snail kidnapping plot to Sir John using only bleats and neighs is another question entirely. Maybe it’ll come over all Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.

Oh, and yes. The last week’s vanquishers of a MULTI-HEADED DRACONIC GODDESS have just been defeated by fucking SNAILS.

Anyway, we cut to Sir John, who is wandering through the Mushroom Jungle in search of something brave to do. That Fucking Unicorn barrels him over, and predictably, Sir John is terrified. That Fucking Unicorn then attempts to drag Sir John after the Snaily Kidnappers.

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Uni

I guess mushrooms are inflammable?

In order to cajole the cowardly knight, That Fucking Unicorn grabs his burning torch and dashes away. Sir John swallows the bait. He’s afraid of the dark.

That Fucking Unicorn eventually comes across the Snail Camp. Although why they need a camp is completely beyond me, because they literally CARRY THEIR HOMES ON THEIR BACKS. Sir John retrieves his torch before spotting the snails, and then frantically waves the flames in their snail faces until they disappear into cave openings. Meanwhile, That Fucking Unicorn goes about opening the sacks that contain the party.

Our heroes believe once more that Sir John is their brave rescuer, despite the viewer knowing his bravery is much more luck than judgment. Diana gives him a flower (which he wears on his armour), and a kiss on the forehead (which he wears on his…. erm… face) as a reward.

Hank and Eric then task Sir John to take them to the Beholder. They call him the bravest knight they’ve ever met, which That Fucking Unicorn greets with a snort of derision. The truth will out, I’m sure.

Cornered, Sir John agrees. Because if he didn’t, we’d have to end the episode immediately. He tries to skidaddle, claiming he needs to fetch a shield, but Presto conjures up a bin lid / garbage can lid which serves the purpose.

They go searching up an icy mountain. Hank questions Sir John’s tactics, and asks if they need a plan. Sir John agrees that they do, and tasks the party with coming up with said plan while he “scouts ahead”.

I’m getting a bit sick of Sir John, if I’m honest. Eric the Cavalier agrees with me on this. [Dove: I quite often find myself siding with Eric. Aside from anything, he hates That Fucking Unicorn.]

While he “scouts ahead,” Sir John ponders his plight. He doesn’t want to face the Beholder, but he can’t face banishment for him and his son.

Sir John: What am I going to do?

Venger: You are going to do exactly as you’re told.

Yip de fucking do. I was wondering when this prick would turn up.

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Venger

Correct change only please.

Venger has demands of his own. Sir John must escort our heroes to the Beholder, and then abandon them to their fate at the tentacles of ol’ One-Eyed Scrotum himself.

Suddenly, Sir John grows a spine. He may be a coward, but he can’t abandon children to such a terrible fate. Venger, however, has come prepared for this face turn: he holds Sir John’s son hostage, caged and beset with rabid big-eared dogs.

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Timothy

The dogs don’t work.

Sir John agrees, which is understandable. He dashes back to the party, where Eric is trying to convince everyone that Sir John isn’t as brave as he seems. When Sir John brusquely convinces them to follow him to the Beholder, the party (bar Eric) agree that Sir John is a very brave and noble knight indeed.

The gang rock into a crevice between two cliffs, at the end of which Sir John promises they will find the Beholder. Hank makes to charge off, for he is blonde and brave [Dove: He is probably a Wakefield cousin.]. Sir John wishes everyone the best of British before trying to exit, stage left. Eric calls him on his shit, as the rest of the party look on.

I admit, I am warming a little to Eric. He seems to be the voice of… well, the voice of viewers who dislike the cartoon. All he needs are a few telling asides direct to camera, in which he admits that the whole thing is completely shit. [Dove: And he’s voiced by Ralph Malph from Happy Days.]

The party are dismayed by Sir John’s cowardice, but carry on towards the Beholder regardless. And lo, it appears, and shoots lasers out of its tentacles. Is that a thing Beholders can do?

Our heroes are driven back, by tentacle lasers and some sort of conjured floor lava. They hide behind a crop of rock. All looks bleak. At least That Fucking Unicorn will die too.

We make the obvious cut to a retreating Sir John, who is questioning the manner of his departure. I’m all for a tortured internal monologue, but part of me does wish our friendly knight had just brushed it off. Fuck these privileged rich kids, amirite?

Venger appears, and begins taunting Sir John with claims of cowardice. Rookie move, Venger… all you’re doing is goading Sir John to the point where he’s bound to firm up his knightly ballsack andcharge back to save the kids.

Seriously, what’s with baddies always self-destructing by getting what they want and then turning into irrational, horrible twats? Why do they always turn on their faithful servants, or go back on their plans and promises to those misguided fools that helped them ascend to greatness? Without these dramatic double crosses, the ratio of bad folk to good folk would rise exponentially. Did your plan work? Did Jeff from Accounts manage to summon that spider-daemon at long last? If he did, don’t be churlish: buy Jeff a basket of fucking mini muffins. [Dove: Even better question: Why the fuck is Venger always thwarting their attempts to get home? Those kids are a thorn in his fucking side. If they get home, that’s six less brats ruining his evil plans. Seven if they take That Fucking Unicorn with them. My only theory is pure pettiness. If Venger’s not getting his own way, then gosh darn it, those kids aren’t either.]

Venger returns Sir John’s son, which would go against the whole “self-destructing evildoer” rant above, until you consider that he returned the child to Sir John by teleporting the boy to the  outskirts of the Realm of the Beholder. His work apparently done, Venger flies off on his magic black stallion. Compensating much? Sing along with me…

Venger, has only GOT ONE horn,

Much like, That Fucking Unicorn.

The other, thanks to his mother,

Was taken, the day he, was born.

While Timothy (son of Brave Sir John) asked what Venger meant by the phrase “you, Sir John, are a cock-womble,” they both hear Bobby the Barbarian’s plaintive cries for help.

Timothy dashes to the rescue, OBV. Pursued by his father.

Back with the Beholder, we see that the entire party are trapped in the evil prune’s gossamer tentacle strands.

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: BEholder

All fear the Jizz of the Beholder!

Brave Sir John and Timothy arrive, and, in the face of muttered derision from Eric, Sir John actually does something brave. He leaps down and charges headlong toward the Beholder, waving his bin lid shield before him!

The Beholder captures him in a strand immediately. Of course. Still, nice try there, Sir John.

Sir John, however, is not bested yet! He struggles and wriggles to free his arms, while Hank ponders exactly what Dungeon Master meant by “only beauty can defeat the eye of the Beholder.” [Dove: On watching, my only thought was, “Not one of these kids falls under the heading of ‘beautiful’?” Ok then.]

Suddenly, Diana has it! The flower! Show the Beholder the flower!

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Beholder

For me? How romantic!

Brave Sir John does this. It works. The Beholder deflates and sags, like a tight scrotum in a hot bath.

RIGHT.

I actually quite like the puzzle here. It’s cute, and nowhere near as obvious as the white rabbit / white hare crap from episode 1.

But DEFEATING A BEHOLDER BY SHOWING IT A FUCKING FLOWER?!

Get FUCKED.

At least throw the flower into its eye! Or make it choke on it! Or SOMETHING!

[Dove: Or go the actual RPG way, and have your level 4 characters poke it gently with their swords until it obligingly dies of papercuts.]

It doesn’t even make sense in this story! Like, the Beholder originally turned up to this lush and verdant land and turned it all into a desolate wasteland. It seems the Beholder holds some dominion over the realm of beauty. But no, one fucking flower is enough to do him in. And not even the pollen from it, or the thorns. Actually LOOKING AT THE PETALLY PRICK is enough.

Behind the flaccid and listless corpse of the Beholder, our heroes spot the portal back to their world…

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 2: Portal home

Buy a fucking bench, you cheapskate funfair owners!

The party climb into the portal’s mouth. All except Bobby, who is having second thoughts about leaving That Fucking Unicorn behind. Come on now, kid. Kick it in its little face, and get the fuck home.

Next, Venger rocks up, just as Bobby and the rest make to actually leave. He’s proper fuming about Sir John’s act of defiance, and vows vengeance. Which is fair, because he’s called Venger. [Dove: What were his parents thinking? Were they the first wave of “If I call my little bundle of joy ‘President’, then one day he’ll rule the country!”]

The party, instead of escaping home and putting us out of our misery, instead opt to fight Venger and drive him away from Sir John. Eric almost – almost – fucks off home by himself, but in the end his valour overcomes his ego and he helps too.

The battle is short, but the party get the better of Venger and his Fabulous Horse. Hank uses arrows, Eric uses his shield, and Presto uses and old-fashioned honking bicycle horn. Naturally. They also have help: Venger is blasted away by a red beam of magic, and no one knows where it sprang from. Foreshadowing for something in a future episode, perhaps?

Next, the corpse of the Beholder falls down a hole, and grass is immediately returned to the valley. So there’s that.

Everyone praises Sir John for being brave, and mocks Eric for thinking that the knight was frightened. They claim that Eric himself was scared, which he vehemently and humourously denies. Declaring he’s the bravest thing ever, Eric sits on Presto’s horn (behave yourselves), and is predictably terrified.

We cut to a chuckling Dungeon Master, sat by the waterfall. And we’re done.

Wait, maybe Dungeon Master was the source of the red light that drove away Venger?

I don’t actually care.

[Dove: This happens every so often, with DM just chilling in the background as they all have their chucks at Eric at the end of every episode. I think DM is just stoned as fuck and really can’t be arsed.]

Final Thoughts:

This episode was much better than the first. The plot was more robust, Sir John was quite charming, the puzzle was deece, Eric was the Voice of Reason, Presto was funny in places, and the baddies were strong enough to be threatening.

I still hated it.

I don’t think I’ll ever actually like this series. The best you can hope for is a slightly thicker veil of contempt than normal.

I’m not apologising. It’s bone deep, this hatred. Bloodborne and pulsing. Running through me like a flame along a powder-line, prime to explode.

Fuck this show.

[Dove: Wasn’t a huge fan of this one. There are several episodes that have kind of shaped my childhood, but this was not one. Sir John can get fucked.]

Looking back at things I've enjoyed, and smashing them to pieces with the Snark-Hammer. Lover of games of every stripe and hue. NOT A REAL BIRD.

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