Oct 29, 2018

[TV] The Dragon Prince: Season 1 Review

In a post-Avatar world, it often feels like the geek world is constantly on alert for new content of interest from the folks who helped bring that show to fruition. And it's not like every they the team does is automatically great - but the high expectations just sort of linger in that respect.

The Dragon Prince is one such unique animation venture that includes the likes of Avatar: the Last Airbender head writer and director Aaron Ehasz as one of the co-creators of the show. And while the show is its own unique IP, the comparisons are inevitable because the internet can be a little crazy that way.

But this show is pretty different for a number of reasons despite it also having a magic system based around discrete elemental forces. But our little team of protagonists are a very unlikely group and one that has quite the burden on their shoulders in terms of their self-appointed quest. But hey, such trials are when one's character really get tested, right?

Synopsis: The Dragon Prince is an American epic fantasy animated television series created for Netflix by Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond. After its initial 9 episodes, it was confirmed in October 2018 that the show would be extended for another season.

The series is set in a fantasy world where elves and humans have been in conflict for countless years. Initially magic was kept from the humans and they in turn learned how to wield dark magic, which threatened to have more far-reaching negative implications for the land. The resulting conflict initially achieved some sense of closure when the combined forces of the elves, dragons and other forces of magic managed to drive humanity to the far end of the continent, they managed to use dark magic to kill the dragon king and his egg.

In the present, we follow small group of elf assassins attempting to sneak into the human castle to assassinate their King Harrow (Luc Roderique). But one thing leads to another and the elf assassin Rayla (Paula Burrows) encounters the princes Callum (Jack De Sena) and Ezran (Sasha Rojen) together with his pet glow toad Bait and the group discovers that the last dragon egg had not been destroyed in the conflict but was actually in a secret chamber within the castle. They opt to try to bring the egg back to the dragon king and perhaps find a different resolution to this long-running conflict.

What I Liked: The character writing for our primary trio of protagonists is pretty spot on given we have a mixed group that represent the warring sides of the humans and the elves working together for the future - a not-so-subtle reminder of how often it's the younger generation that takes it upon themselves to find another solution to the older generation's problems aside from direct conflict and violence. There's no guarantee that they're going to succeed and whether or not the return of the dragon egg will mean anything in the long run but it's he message of hope that drives things forward.

And the larger conflict is indeed a complicated one with the humans for the most part appearing to be the bad guys (at least in terms of their leadership and use of dark magic) but the elves aren't quite innocent either given their willingness to go the distance in order to achieve what they think to be a lasting solution to the conflict. There's a heck of a lot of gray areas obscuring the potential truth of things but I do appreciate that we didn't go for entirely for a clear bad guy for our heroes to work against.

What Could Have Been Better: There's a lot of fluff in this series and I think they could benefit form tighter writing or maybe rearranging things so they make more sense. The best example of this is the children of Viren (Jason Simpson) - Claudia (Racquel Belmonte) the dark mage and Soren (Jesse Inocalla) the Crownsguard. They get dispatched on a quest of their own early on in the show but in the end they don't really get much done nor do we learn a lot more about them as characters. Maybe they will have a bigger role in events later but for now it feels like a waste.

And then the choices for accents and voices are a little all over the place as well. Sure it's a fantasy world and it's not necessarily Earth but we do have that distinct effort in the show to have the elves sound Scottish or Irish depending on the character while the humans are sort of neutral American maybe? It's not a serious thing but it does get distracting at times.

TL;DR: The Dragon Prince is a quirky show that still needs to grow into its own as it tries to establish its voice. There's a lot of potential but it's not exactly an amazing series yet and this first season just manages to make things a bit more interesting. And thus it gets a fair 3.5 moments Bait inappropriately "flashes" everyone out of a possible 5.

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