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DreamWorks Dragons 'Riders of Berk' provides Dragon Academy Background

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DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk

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As a dragon lady, of course I love dragons and "DreamWorks Dragons" TV series Season 1, "Riders of Berk," is a wonderful example of computer animation with a heartfelt story of family, friends and cross-species communication. If you've seen "How to Train Your Dragon" then you'll want to continue your travels with this group of dragon trainers. This also helps fill in the five years between the first 2010 movie and the second movie that just came out, "How to Train Your Dragon 2."

"DreamWorks Dragons" is the Cartoon Network TV series follow-up to the Oscar-nominated 2010 movie "How to Train Your Dragon." Hiccup has gained his father's respect, changed the way his community of Berk islanders relates to dragons and gotten positive attention from his crush, Viking girl Astrid.

Now that his gang all are dragon riders, life in their village of Berk needs a few adjustments. In "Riders of Berk Part I" Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless face several problems because it's not easy living with dragons and it's also not easy being a teen. Hiccup stars a Dragon Academy ("How to Start a Dragon Academy"), but the dragons frighten the more ordinary domesticated animals ("Animal House") and cause damage ("In Dragons We Trust"), but they also are hated by grumpy Berk resident Mildew (Stephen Root). Mildew plots to have the dragons expelled from Berk and rival Vikings, the Outsiders, are introduced.

Alvin the Treacherous (Mark Hamill) leads the Outcast Tribe on a raid of the Berk island in order to find the Dragon Conqueror ("Alvin and the Outcasts"). There's also a parallel with the dragons as Toothless is shown to have his own enemy: a Whispering Death.

In Part II, having driven the Outcast tribe away, Hiccup teaches his father Stoick how to ride, using Toothless, but each person must have their own dragon "How to Pick Your Dragon") and Stoick (Nolan North) eventually finds a dragon suitable for his personality. This brings Hiccup and his father closer together, but Stoick still wishes he had a son who was more like a traditional warrior and less the slender geek that is his son ("Portrait of Hiccup as a Buff Man").

Astrid (America Ferrera) and Hiccup have a few awkward moments together, but they each are growing in respect to each other, yet the sudden appearance of another girl named Heather, causes Astrid to become jealous. Yet credit the writers for not so easily dismissing Heather as an evil person. Astrid ends up helping Heather ("Heather Report") as the threat of Alvin and the Outcasts reappears.

Astrid also helps Hiccup grow emotionally. When Hiccup has the opportunity to show up Snotlout (Zack Pearlman), her disappointment in Hiccup's behavior helps him remain humble ("Thawfest").

At the end of the season (20 March 2013), Hiccup attempts to find Toothless' family when he learns about an island where Night Furies nest, but his information is false and he and Toothless are trapped and held captive by Alvin and the Outcasts.

The 20 episodes of Season 1 are all fun and filled with humor and lots of dragons and dragon lore to appreciate. As always, despite all the faults of each character, the stories emphasize that each one brings something valuable to the group.

"DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk" is available for purchase of can be viewed online through YouTube.

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