Once upon a time I edited a magazine called Comics Scene and early on, I had the opportunity to be in Ireland where I was invited to visit animator Don Bluth and his operation. At the time, he had left Disney and was busily working on The Secret of NIMH but also interactive animated arcade games. In 1983, he was poised to unleash Dragon’s Lair. After explaining the premise, Bluth let me play the latter for a while.
Boy was it fun.
While it and the subsequent Space Ace made a splash, they didn’t ignite a new generation of gaming, largely I suspect because these were expensive to create and manufacture and were limited by the technology of the day. Still, Dragon’s Lair proved popular enough for it to be licensed for Saturday morning television. Rather than use Bluth’s studio, the weekly work was turned over to Ruby-Spears. They produced thirteen half-hour episodes and as we approached each commercial break, a choice had to be made, emulating the arcade version. After the break, we saw what would happen with either choice and then the adventure would continue. Nice idea, even if it wound up flawed, and the show endured for one season on ABC during the 1984-1985 season.
Warner Archive has just released the complete series as a two disc set so those who recall the game and show fondly, can relive the adventures of Dirk the Daring (Bob Sarlatte). Despite being somewhat goofy, he was the best knight in King Ethelred’s (Fred Travalena) kingdom. Such feats earned him the love of Princess Daphne (Ellen Gerstell), who of course needed rescuing from the likes of the Lizard King, the Phantom Knight, the Giddy Goons, and the Mudmen with regularity.
A faithful adaptation, it is far from the best of Ruby-Spears or Bluth and is strictly for those the nostalgics.