Friday, March 30, 2012

FYI new blog header

The new graphic at the top of the blog is a still from the 1982 Rankin-Bass special The Flight of Dragons.  I wish I could give you some more stills, but my own copy is pretty low quality.  And the youtube clips of the great intro have embedding turned off.  Go check it out.  The opening song is by Don "American Pie" McLean. 

So instead I'll do a short run down of whatever images I can find via google search.

Carolinus, the Green Wizard, (Harry Morgan) has discovered that the magic is going out of the world as mankind embraces logic and science.

He calls a meeting of the Four Wizards.  Three of them agree to create a Last Realm of Magic, an invisible place for the elves and dragons and such to live.

The fourth wizard, Ommadon (James Earl Jones), is not cool with this plan.  Instead he plans to use his evil magic to corrupt the new world.  The other wizards swear to stop him, but cannot oppose a brother wizard directly.
The oracular Voice of Antiquity selects Peter Dickinson (John Ritter) as the champion needed to defeat Ommadon.  Trained as a scientist but a wannabe fantasy author and game designer, Peter is the only man who can straddle both worlds.

Carolinus travels to the future, where he finds Peter attemtping to secure financing to print and distribute this blockbuster new game about dragons and wizards.  The pieces represent Carolinus and other people back in magical times, showing Peter's strange connection to the times of magic.

Arriving in the past, Peter meets Gorbash, Carolinus's house dragon.  A spell fumble by the wizard results in Peter's mind being placed in Gorbash's body.  Peter eventually figures out the science behind dragons: they produce hydrogen naturally and float like zeppelins.  When they need to descend they burn off the hydrogen and vent it from their mouths.

Joining Peter/Gorbash and his draconic mentor Smrgol is Sir Orrin Neville-Smythe.  Everyone who watches this show would remember Sir Neville-Smythe as the most stereotypical British knight ever, except that everyone really remembers how he falls in love with Carolinus' daughter Melisande when he's a grown man and she's five years old.  Creepy.

Seventeen-year-old Melisande is Peter's love interest.  She is not allowed on the quest and spends a great deal of the adventure sick in bed, having visions.

I like the archer Danielle a lot better.  She's kickass with her bow.  Sir Orrin eventually forgets his obsession with Melisande and falls in love with Danielle, clearing the way for the inevitable Peter/Melisande pairing.  Two other companions added to the quest as they travel to Ommadon's lair are Giles the Elf, who looks just like a Rankin-Bass hobbit and a talking wolf played by Victor Buono.  He was a real show stealer as King Tut in the old Batman TV show.

The entrance to Ommadon's gloomy realm is guarded by this three-eyed ogre that the two dragons have to rassle.

But before wrassling, the dragons get blotto drinking wine by the barrelfull.

The final confrontation between good and evil takes the form of Peter explaining to Ommadon how all his magic is a load of crap.  His scientific knowledge literally shields him from the evil wizard's powers.

Dispelled in a poof of logic, Peter claims Ommadon's crown of power.  (Which incidentally, serves as the inspiration for the Red Crown of the White Queen in my Wessex campaign.)

The Last Realm of Magic is saved.  Peter literally sells the crown at a pawnshop to finance his game and he's reunited with Melisande.  They kiss, roll credits.

All in all, a charming little tale that's lots of fun to watch.  I've skipped several interesting parts that I can't find good stills for.

Carolinus's message that as humanity grows into a world of science and logic they must keep the magic of imagination in their hearts still speaks to me today.  Carl Sagan was saying the same thing at roughly the same time in Cosmos.  If Carl Sagan and a wizard can agree on something, I'm pretty sure it's true.


  1. That is actually the universal metric for truth. Nothing can be more true then anything a Wizard and Carl Sagan agree on.

    That said, marijuana should be legal.

    1. What wizard would disagree with that?

  2. "If Carl Sagan and a wizard can agree on something, I'm pretty sure it's true."

    I think I'll have this engraved over the entrance to my sepulchre.

  3. Whoah, whoah, whoah. Modern human goes back in time to inhabit the body of a dragon?! And the dragon is named Gorbash? A wizard named Carolinus?

    Well, I'll be... The Wikipedia page for Gordon Dickson's "Dragon Knight" says, "The first book informed the 1982 animated movie The Flight of Dragons by Rankin/Bass, but was previously published as a short story."

  4. Hey Jeff, the guy on the front page pisses me off to no end for some reason. Is it the scarf? The uneasy hands? The smugness?

  5. I totally remember watching this on TV when it came out and being concerned that I might have soccer practice that night and might miss it because, you know, no DVRs back then and a VHS recorder cost like $800 or something.

    S funny you posted about this today - I was just thinking about this movie this morning and I couldn't remember the name, so I was about to go onto IMDB and look up John Ritter (the only voice actor for it that I could remember) and scroll through his list of credits until I found it. You saved me tons of time!

    Thanks for the little trip down memory lane. I did enjoy this when I came out, and there are some neat ideas in it that can be used in a campaign.

  6. I have this movie, but I can't get past Harry Morgan as the wizard. It cracks me up every time. Probably because these local DJs (Don and Mike from D.C.) would do this bit where Harry Morgan was Harry Potter (since Harry Morgan played Col. Potter on MASH).

  7. I remember reading the story as "The Dragon and the George" by Gordon R. Dickson shortly before seeing the cartoon. In fact my vhs copy is labeled "the Dragon and the George".

  8. This isn't wine. It's mead.

  9. Peter eventually figures out the science behind dragons: they produce hydrogen naturally and float like zeppelins. When they need to descend they burn off the hydrogen and vent it from their mouths.

    The Flight of Dragons by former Punch humorist Peter Dickinson has to be one of the most beautifully sustained flights of lunacy ever committed to paper.

  10. "His scientific knowledge literally shields him from the evil wizard's powers."

    Isn't that an example of Ars Magica's 'True Reason'?

    I owned the 'Flight of Dragons' book and lost it in moves at least twice in my life. I miss it so. Beautiful art and so much inspiring material.

  11. I have reported the change of header to the site host. You have dishonored the Dungeon Geomorph Kid. For shame.

    My rage is lessened now that I've read the explanation; I thought that was a still from the D&D cartoon at first, and I'd hate to have Nicholas Bradford's voice reading these posts in my head forever.

    Still: Geomorph Kid is coming for you.

  12. I miss this movie.

  13. I now have a vague memory of my parents renting this for me from the local video store sometime in the early to mid 80's.

  14. I remember this from when I was a kid. Last I checked you can't get it from Netflix but you can order it from Amazon. I bought one but the quality of the DVD is not that good. Looks like a copy of a video and no subtitles - hard for me to watch with my bad hearing. I loved the premise, but looking back on it as an adult - well the memories are still good. For a 8 year old it was great - captures the feeling of that time which was on the verge of technology - the 80's were just getting to feel like the eightes and the sunset of the crazy whacked out 60's an 70's. I did like the scientific stuff of the dragon and the scene with the dwarves. But I found some of the cliches a little thick as an adult (but not as a kid - it will always have a special place for me and the unification it sparked).

    Peace, Steve

  15. I am completely baffled. Somehow, I was unaware of this. Now I will know my life is incomplete until I see it.

  16. This has to be my favorite fantasy cartoon, thanks for reminding me of it ! Now I'll have to watch Fire & Ice again.

  17. Anonymous6:04 AM

    I have been trying to remember the name of that movie for years! Thank you! I saw it as a kid but could not remember the name so I could not find a copy. Now that I know what it is called I can find it.

  18. Gosh I remember this cartoon from when I was a kid! Thank you soooo much for reminding me of its name! By the way, I create free blog headers in case you need one one day. You can check them out here:


    Maybe I'll design a dragon header like yours soon :)

  19. My wife is an absolute fanatic for Flight of Dragons: it captivated her as a kid and she still loves it now. It had dragons, it had real world/fantasy world transference, and it had a kickass fighting-woman. What's not to love?

    When I pointed out that this blog had Peter as its header, it was the first time she'd shown an interest in D&D in years...