(and the other “D” show)
That best little show would be DreamWorks Dragons: Defenders of Berk. The “other D” is Dracula. Let’s dispense with the latter first.
I stopped watching Dracula a few weeks ago. Never one to find torture entertaining, the kidnapping (and subsequent torture) of Renfield, the show’s most interesting character, was upsetting. Last week I decided to find out what happened to poor ol’ Renfield and began watching again. That didn’t last long. I fast-forwarded to Renfield’s rescue, but found all the other characters boring and/or annoying. Oh, Jonathan Rhys Myers, why can’t you do sweet films such as Bend It Like Beckham?
Now let’s talk about…
DreamWorks Dragons: Defenders of Berk
For the uninitiated, Defenders of Berk is actually the second season of DreamWorks Dragons on the Cartoon Network. (The first season having been called Riders of Berk.) I admit I’m not quite as enthusiastic about Defenders as I was about Riders, but this season has still had its moments.
What I loved about Riders was the portrayal of the wonderful relationship Hiccup and his father Stoick have developed, and watching Hiccup grow into his role as a leader. Defenders has focused more on the teens, and I miss their interactions with the adults. The series is, however, doing a nice job of expanding the stories of the supporting teens, and these episodes have been among my favorites.
I wrote about “The Iron Gronkle” (episode 202) back when the season was new. Since then, I found the episode on YouTube. If you don’t have 20 minutes to watch it in its entirety, check out my favorite scene beginning around the 16 minute mark. (I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!)
Fishlegs and his latent competitive spirit (particularly with Snotlout) are highlighted in “Worst in Show” (#207). In it, Hiccup has the teens each train a Terrible Terror. Fishlegs is so intent on “winning” (even though Hiccup keeps reminding everyone it’s not a competition) that he ignores Meatlug, with disastrous consequences. The Terrible Terrors are hilarious—and beautifully colorful! And while the training doesn’t quite go according to plan, in the end, all the little dragons prove their value.
“Zippleback Down” (#209) focuses Tuffnut, the male half of the extraordinarily stupid twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut. It also features the return of Scorch, the little dragon that gave Toothless so much trouble in “The Terrible Twos” last season. Scorch has grown into a humongous Typhoomerang. He entertains Tuffnut, who’s managed to ensnare himself in a dragon trap; he then helps the twins, their Zippleback, Hiccup, and Toothless escape a deadly forest fire. I had been hoping for reappearance by Scorch, so thank you, DreamWorks.
The latest episode, “Free Scaldy” (#213), features Ruffnut, a character who’s been sorely underused. The teens find an injured water-dwelling Scauldron dragon trapped on land. The only one who’s able to calm the dragon is Ruffnut—because the dragon smells the fish oil in her hair (which she uses to get that “greasy, dirty look”). Hiccup teaches Ruffnut to bond with the dragon (because neither she nor her brother paid any attention in dragon training class.) When Hiccup shows her how to reach out her hand while not looking at the dragon—one of the movie’s iconic moments—Toothless smiles. (And so does my heart.) Ruffnut talks and sings to the dragon, whom she names Scaldy. She’s able calm him enough for the others to remove the trap and try to fix his broken wing. But when they run out of material to build a splint for Scaldy’s wing, Ruffnut makes a lovely sacrifice to save him. What’s the sacrifice? Ah, that would be “spoilers.”