The world loves Computer Animated films. Namely because incredible film studios like Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks have given us impeccable movies that speak to our inner child and bring out an infectious sense of joy. They have also given us iconic characters, such as Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc, Shrek and Donkey from Shrek, and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. As a result of our love for these characters, the studios have started to do sequels and spin-off television shows, with varying degrees of success. It is Toothless and the rest of the cast of lovable dragons and Vikings that star in DreamWorks latest animated spin-off series, DreamWorks Dragons, based on the highly beloved and successful film series. The show acts as a bridge between the first film and second film, giving viewers more information about the world and revealing secrets that the full-length offerings skipped over.
The Cartoon Network originally aired an hour-long preview consisting of two episodes of the show on August 7th 2012, followed later by the official premier on September 4th 2012. To date 5 seasons of the show have aired, totalling just shy of 80 episodes. Three of these seasons (subtitled Riders of Berk and Defenders of Berk) have featured on the Cartoon Network, whilst the latter two (Race to the Edge) have featured on web content streaming service, Netflix (beginning on June 26th 2015). The show has a similar tone to the movies, and is designed to be darker than most animated spin-off series’, which tend to be more light-hearted affairs. Dragons also stands as the first DreamWorks television show to air on the Cartoon Network as opposed to rival channel Nickelodeon.
Many of the original voice cast from the films reprise their roles in the show, including Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder, She’s out of my League), America Ferrera (The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants), T.J Miller (Cloverfield, Deadpool) and David Tennant (Dr. Who, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), and new actors have joined them, including voice actor veteran Nolan North (Spiderwick Chronicles, Star Trek Into Darkness), who has taken over from Gerard Butler as Stoick the Vast.
So what is the show actually about? As mentioned it takes place between the first and second film and revolves around Hiccup and his Dragon, Toothless as their friendship grows, all whilst Hiccup is trying to keep order in the unexpected alliance between Vikings and Dragons. Secondary plots involve Hiccup trying to manage the operation of the new Dragon training academy, as well as trying to deal with new harsh lands filled with deadly enemies who want to break the pact between Dragons and humans, and Dragons that refuse to be tamed.
Whilst the show certainly sounds like a good follow-up to the immensely popular films, filled with an exceptional cast, as well as the fact that it has already seen five seasons since it premiered in 2012, exactly how popular is the show? Unfortunately, neither the Cartoon Network nor Netflix have released any viewing figures, so the only way to get an idea of the show’s popularity is to look at review feedback. Luckily for Dragons, that feedback is pretty great. Both Riders of Berk and Race to the Edge have received a very healthy score of 8.2 and 8.6 on IMDB respectively. Similarly on Netflix, the show has a superb rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Critic reviews are pretty good too. Variety – whilst frowning upon the lack of discernible antagonists did also give the show a lot of praise stating that “the half-hour series format and youthful skew mutes those narrative shortcomings, and the over-the-moon…feeling when the dragons take flight offers enough excitement to replicate the movie’s principal appeal.” With this level of praise and feedback, although Netflix hasn’t officially announced a new series, it seems very likely that we will be seeing the return of Hiccup, Toothless and the gang pretty soon.
There are currently no Blu-ray versions of Dragons available to buy, but you can get Riders of Berk and Defenders of Berk on DVD for $13.49 each. You can also stream the episodes for $2.99 each or $17.99 for the full seasons via Amazon Instant Video. If you want to watch the latter seasons, the only way to do so is to have access to a Netflix account, which is priced at $10, or £7.50 for the basic packages in the US and UK respectively, although the site does normally offer a free month’s trial to newcomers.
Are you happy about the return of Hiccup and his beloved Toothless, or do you think their adventures should be left for the big screen? Have you seen any episodes and have a favourite one? How do you feel about Netflix taking over the rights to the show from Cartoon Network – are you happy to pay to continue watching the show?
As always, we want to hear what you have to say, so