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Featured TV on DVD Review: Dragons: Riders of Berk - Part 1 and 2

August 3rd, 2013

Dragons: Riders of Berk - Buy from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2

How to Train Your Dragon came out in 2010, and while it is not the biggest hit from Dreamworks, it remains their best. Since then, a sequel has been put in the works, but to fill the time, a TV series was made. Dragons: Riders of Berk is not the first TV series based on an animated movie. In fact, it is the third from Dreamworks alone. But is it worth checking out for fans of the movie? Or is it a pale imitation?

The Show

At the end of How to Train Your Dragon, the Vikings and the Dragons finally made peace and begun living together. However, at the beginning of Dragons: Riders of Berk, we find out this is not a 100% peaceful solution. The dragons are no longer trying to kill the Vikings and vice versa, but the dragons are still wild animals and eat a lot, many of them are huge and get in the way, or damage property, etc. It looks like there's going to be a revolt in the village, but Hiccup is given the chance to train the dragons and help them live in harmony with the Vikings.

The first day doesn't go so well, as Hiccup is clearly over his head. However, the next day, he gets help from Astrid, Fishlegs, and others. However, the training doesn't go very well either. All of the dragons, even Toothless, are still a nuisance. Mildew, one of the Vikings of the village who despises dragons is quite happy with this and taunts Hiccup telling him there was nothing he could do, because it's in the dragon's nature. That's when it hits him. He shouldn't try to subvert the dragons nature, but harness their natural skills for the good of the village. Stoick is so proud of his son, and his son's friends, that he sets up a Dragon Academy to help the kids learn even more about dragons.

Not everyone is pleased with this outcome. Mildew remains determined to get rid of the dragons. However, it is not just him who has trouble adapting to the new situation. Gobber, the blacksmith, has gone his whole life building weapons to kill dragons, now he has to adapt to a world where they are at peace with the dragons.

Most of the season is focused on the people, and occasionally animals, of Berk trying to adapt to life with dragons, while Hiccup and the rest trying to learn as much as they can about dragons, including new species. There are also some recurring villains, and not just Mildew. We meet Alvin the Treacherous, who first sends someone, Heather, to spy on the village. However, we learn something about her that makes her actions more understandable. Alvin returns and and becomes even more dangerous after... well, that's a spoiler.

I was impressed by this TV series. It is the best of the three Dreamworks movies turned TV shows that I've reviewed. It pays that the world setup by the movie was rich and lends itself to the format of the show. We get a lot of "freak of the week" episodes, only this time the freaks are new dragons. There are also plenty of episodes that are part of the richer mythology. The writing is great, and the voice acting is fantastic. Not only have most of the key actors from the movie returned, but there are a number of excellent guest stars. This includes Stephen Root, Mark Hamill, Mae Whitman, David Faustino, and more.

The Extras

Extras on Part 1 include the first part of the Dragon Tracker, a six-minute look at some of the dragons to be introduced in the series. There is also a three-minute look at Thunderdrum and how it was designed to be as realistic as possible, at least within the realm of the show. Finally, there is a music video. Part 2 has another Dragon Tracker, a look at the Whispering Death, and a music video.

The Verdict

The review for Dragons: Riders of Berk took a lot longer than I thought it would, because when I looked at the price of each DVD, I assumed there would only be four or five episodes on each. Instead, there are ten episodes and some extras, all for $12. This means Part 1 and Part 2 has better price-per-minute than many network sitcoms and it very cheap compared to most animated shows.

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Filed under: Video Review, Jay Baruchel, David Faustino, America Ferrera, Mark Hamill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nolan North, Stephen Root, Mae Whitman, Chris Edgerly