BCI, the company that has put out DVD box sets of prime 1980s cartoons like He-Man and She-Ra, will release the 27-episode Dungeons & Dragons animated series.  BCI, which like FUNimation is a subsidiary of the Navarre Corporation, has done a superb job of mounting its DVD boxsets with collectors in mind by including lots of features and commentaries by voice actors, filmmakers and experts.  While BCI has not yet formally announced the release of the D&D animated series, it has included Mark Evanier, who was one of the writers of the D&D series, on its San Diego panel and will also show some of the D&D footage, a prime indication that BCI has acquired the DVD rights.


The release of the D&D animated series is good news -- this is one of the most desirable (and most often bootlegged) of all the 1980s cartoon series.  Produced by Marvel Comics and TSR, the series ran from 1983-1986 on CBS.  Although the hand-wringing wimps at the National Coalition on Television Violence named the series as the most violent show on American TV, the D&D cartoons were actually among the most ethically advanced and thoughtful efforts in the history of children's programming on American commercial television.  The fact that TSR's D&D role-playing game had already stirred up considerable opposition from fundamentalist religious types because of the game's 'occult' elements probably had as much to do with attacks on the cartoon series as did the actual content of the episodes.  In an era in which children's programming was becoming increasingly pablumized, the D&D series offered an adventurous and imaginative alternative.


The D&D animated series should have a strong nostalgic appeal to the 30- to 40-year-old demographic that watched the series when they were kids as well as to younger fans of fantasy role-playing who want to check out a series that has developed a sterling reputation over the years.