08 October 2014

TV DVD: "Dragons: Riders of Berk": Part One

Rated: TV-PG for violence
Starring: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, and T.J. Miller
Released: 2012 (Cartoon Network premieres)
After he learned how to tame the dragons that were roaming the island, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is assigned the task of training the beasts and preventing them from wreaking havoc on the island of Berk.  To do that, he will need help from his friends, including the brilliant Astrid (America Ferrera, Gotta Kick It Up!), geeky Fishlegs, brash Snoutlout, and the opposite gender-twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut.  In this first volume, Hiccup and friends fight to clear the dragons' names after they are accused of vandalism, find Hiccup's dad a dragon of his own, and meet a mysterious girl (Mae Whitman) who is not what she seems to be...or is she?
Based on the book series by Cressida Cowell.

The Good
You may think that television animation is inferior to what you see on the big screen, but one episode of this DVD would prove you wrong.  The graphics within this series are fantastic, with amazingly detailed characters and environments.  The two leads from the film series reprise their roles here, and do very well; Ms. Ferrera doesn't even sound like herself in this series.  The stories were all captivating, especially the two-parter that ends the volume.  As for the content, it was all clean, with the violence being cartoonish, there being no profanity, the sexual content being limited to kissing, and no nudity or drug use; pretty much in the spirit of the original DreamWorks movie.  Not really anything to complain about, except...

The Bad
The rating, which is assigned by the network themselves, is inappropriate; it should have been "TV-Y7-FV" instead.  "TV-PG" is for more adult fare, which means that some kids might be missing out on this show, especially if they have the "V-Chip" set up on their TVs.

Cartoon Network used to be a place for classic animated fare, such as Looney Tunes or Scooby-Doo.  In recent years, however, they've shifted to some live-action fare, such as Incredible Crew, and pretty much abandoned their roots, which has made many fans upset.  While I can understand their feelings, Dragons is a great fit for the channel, as it's a wonderfully produced cartoon with movie-quality visuals.  Here's hoping that they'll continue to do more computer-animated fare, instead of betraying their own name.

Score: 5/5

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