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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Dragon Tales: Don't Give Up! (2001)

"Dragon Tales, Dragon Tales, it's almost time for Dragon Tales! Come along, take my hand, let's all go to Dragon Land!"
- Incessantly Catchy Theme Song

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: January 16, 2002

Stars: Kathleen Barr
Other Stars: Eli Gabay, Andrea Libman, Danny McKinnon
Director: Tim Eldred

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:03m:06s
Release Date: January 15, 2002
UPC: 043396080904
Genre: educational

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Dragon Tales is a relatively new children's program, uninspired but entertaining fare that will keep kids riveted, but will give adults little to focus on during the 28th time Junior insists on watching the disc. The story revolves around two kids, Emmy and Max, who, when they get bored on Earth, have a magical dragon scale that allows them to wish themselves to Dragon Land.

Everything in Dragon Land is bright, sunny, friendly, and educational. Surprisingly, the giant, anthropomorphic lizards don't scare the kids at all... I guess they got used to the far more frightening Barney. The friendly dragons are Ord, Quetzal, and two-headed Zak and Wheezie. Every day, they have an adventure that no doubt has a moral buried somewhere deep within, though the educational aspects of this show are far less overt than others, and might require parent/child discussions afterwards for the lesson to really sink in. Still, even if it isn't always teaching, kids will find lots of other things to enjoy. The character designs are fairly engaging and there is a lot of humor speckled throughout. I can't imagine any parent having trouble with any of the content, as there is nothing is terms of scatological humor or cartoon violence (like, for example, Power Rangers).

This volume, entitled Don't Give Up, contains five 12-minute episodes. In Pigment of Your Imagination, the kids are making presents for "I Love My Mommy Day" in Dragon Land when they run out of paint. They can't get more on Rainbow Mountain, but must follow the map, which unfortunately gets broken. They must put it back together, but Emmy thinks she knows the way once the puzzle is only half-done. The lesson seems to be to always follow all the directions and be careful at what you are doing, lest you be humiliated in front of all your friends.

In Backwards to Forwards, the kids are playing with the dragons when they accidentally hit the "Backwards/Forwards" sign, and everything is turned around and they learn, "everything is harder backwards," which I'm sure will resonate later in life. Everyone must work together to set things right, and that, I guess, is the lesson, unless the whole show is a warning against walking backwards.

During Sand Castle Hassle, Max and Emmy learn not to give up when their sand castles get washed away by the surf. They quickly reconstruct them, so the Dragon Turtles (?) will have someplace to hatch their eggs. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the kids do not walk away with the lesson that everything you create will eventually be destroyed, nor that the little turtle dragons that they helped hatch were quickly eaten by circling hawks, but that can wait until middle school, I guess.

Emmy learns not to be a sore loser in Tales You Lose, after she throws a big stink about losing the soccer match and saying she'll never play again, and then mouthing off to the dragons when she loses again at freeze. Personally, I wouldn't mouth off to a dragon, but then, I'm not a delusional six-year-old either. Emmy learns that she can lose and still have fun—just in time!

Finally, the kids deal with a bully dragon in Bully for You when visiting the Dragon School. Seems dragon kids are snotty little species-ists who hate humans. But everyone eventually learns that being different is OK, and being a bully is wrong.

Looking for something to amuse your kids? You could do worse.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The animation here looks pretty good, though the clarity of DVD shows off some of the technical goofs in the drawing a bit. Colors look very strong, are there's little in the way of print flaws or artifacts. However, the picture looks a little grainy at times, and suffers from some line jitter.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: This is a vanilla transfer. Everything is confined to the front soundstage and features little in the way of expansion or effects. Dialogue is always clear and well mixed with the music, which expands things a bit. About as basic as you get, but that's OK.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 5 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bear in the Big Blue House, The Trumpet of the Swan, Jay Jay the Jet Plane
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. 4 Dragon Tale Sing-Alongs
Extras Review: When the kids finish with the program, they can play with the extra features, guaranteed for them to enjoy (And you? To annoy). Aside from trailers for other Columbia TriStar videos for them to pester you about (included are Dragon Tales and spots for Bear in the Big Blue House, The Trumpet of the Swan, and Jay Jay the Jet Plane), there is a sing-along section with four songs and dances. The words appear on the screen karaoke-style, for moments of fun!

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

A decent little kids show, Dragon Tales is a fine choice for parents of children five and under. They aren't as educational as many youth programs, but they are well drawn and entertaining, and should hold children's attention. I still say the shows of yore were better, though. Give me Sesame Street or Mr. Roger's Neighborhood! Not that Captain Kangaroo, though. That guy was a weirdo.


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