DRAGONS: RIDERS OF BERK
Friendly Rating: All ages
Safety Rating: Considerable slapstick humor, including kids whacking each other. And not enough female characters.
Quality Rating: Funny and touching and the good things about the film
Series premieres tonight on Cartoon Network at 7:30 p.m.
We hope everyone had a perfectly lovely Labor Day holiday. Please note – tonight begins the Democratic National Convention, which means another slow week for TV.
Which probably makes Cartoon Network’s decision to premiere their lastest was-a-movie-now-it’s-a-series animated program a pretty good one. Because most kids are not going to watch the convention. And Dragons: Riders of Berk is a worth continuation of DreamWorks 2010 flick How To Train Your Dragon.
The film, if you remember, was a charming little “little guy can do” story about Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a young Viking lad living with his village on a rock plagued by dragons. Surprise, surprise, Hiccup manages to befriend one of the dragons, which leads to the whole town coming to terms with the beasts.
So the program picks up where the movie left off, with the dragons hanging around all the time. Only in the opening episode, the village yaks aren’t giving milk, the chickens aren’t laying eggs and the sheep aren’t producing wool because they’re scared of the dragons.
Safety-wise, there are plenty of pratfalls and other slapstick humor. The kids will haul off and whack each other periodically, but there is no real anger. More serious is the lack of female characters, except for Astrid (America Ferrera), Hiccup’s friend. If there are any female adults in this village, they’re in the background and the one wise-woman the village leaders consult doesn’t have a voice – she communicates by writing in the dirt.
But you also get a lot of warm fuzzies and there is the whole heart-warming positive message thing going on, as well. Ultimately, there’s a lot of fun to be had, for adults as well as young ‘uns (with the caveat that said young ‘uns may need reminding that hauling off and whacking siblings is to be frowned upon).
My only other quibble is the name of the show. I keep wanting to call it The Dragonriders of Pern – the late Anne McCaffrey’s science fiction/fantasy series, but then, I am a bit of a Pern freak. So there you have it.