Jonathan Melville: Panda-ing to our love of Dragons

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LAST Saturday morning I found myself sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons for the first time in years, as the spin-off from 2010’s How To Train Your Dragon arrived in the UK.

Dragons: Riders of Berk kicks-off a few months after the end of the animated feature, the Vikings adjusting to life with the fire-breathing creatures they’d previously spent their time trying to kill.

The film was a heady mix of adventure and humour, appealing to fans of all ages with its strong characters and strong story. I saw it twice at the cinema and the Blu-ray is now a much-watched favourite, so I didn’t need much convincing to tune into the TV version.

The series retains some of the original cast, including Jay Baruchel as Hiccup and America Ferrera as Astrid, while Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson are off doing other things. The first two episodes are great fun, with the look and feel of Hiccup’s world captured perfectly by the new production team. There’s also John Powell’s gorgeous score, rivalling that of any live-action movie.

With 40 episodes promised across two seasons, bridging the gap between How To Train Your Dragon 1 and 2 (the latter is out in 2014 with part 3 due in 2016), it seems Dreamworks sees a big future for the franchise.

This isn’t the first animated TV spin-off for the company, with 2005’s Madagascar continued in The Penguins of Madagascar and 2008’s Kung Fu Panda in Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.

For now I think I’ll be sticking with dragons rather than penguins and pandas, but if they’re as good as Riders of Berk, Saturday mornings could become very busy around here.


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