Jane and the Dragon (CGI), NBC
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Well, I didn't have a chance to see this Saturday morning cartoon from the beginning, so I've missed a few episodes at least, most distressingly the first episode. Still, what I eventually saw interested me, so after that I tried to catch it every week, until it stopped airing on NBC. Hopefully eventually I'll catch the eps I've missed. Anyway, it's about a 13-year-old girl named Jane, who is I guess supposed to be a lady-in-waiting, but now she's a squire studying to become a knight (though sometimes characters talk as if she's already a knight). She lives in some medieval kingdom, of course. And she has a friend who is a dragon (just called "Dragon"). He doesn't know anything about his past, and there don't seem to be any other dragons around anywhere. He's spent hundreds of years exploring the world, trying to learn where he came from, but now he's living in a cave in a mountain near the castle where Jane lives. There are dragon runes drawn throughout the cave, and Jane helps him try to figure out what they mean.
There's a knight named Sir Theodore, who trains Jane, as well as a squire named Gunther, with whom Jane does not get along. He can be rather arrogant and doesn't seem to think too highly of Jane, but on the other hand... he sometimes manages to impress me with his integrity, though it's generally far more subtle, even surreptitious, than his less noble side. His father is a rather underhanded merchant named Magnus, who often schemes to help his son's advancement, at the expense of others like Jane or Dragon, but Gunther always manages to make things right, without betraying his father. Anyway... Jane also has several friends around her age who work in the castle, including a girl named Pepper, who works in the kitchen, a gardener named Rake, a blacksmith called Smithy, and a jester called Jester. Other characters include King Caradoc, Queen Gwendoline, Prince Cuthbert, Princess Lavinia (who likes to play with Jane), Sir Ivon, and Jane's parents- a Chamberlain and a lady-in-waiting... and I guess that's about it.
Well, what else to say? The animation is really beautiful, in my opinion some of the best computer animation I think I've ever seen. (Hardly surprising, when you consider it's done by Weta, the company behind countless movies, including Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong, etc.) The faces can be so emotive, and I just really like the look of the characters (especially Jane). Of course, it's not just the animation that I like about the show; the stories aren't bad, either. Fairly simple, but... not bad. And the background music can be pretty good, and I rather like the opening theme song. The acting, the accents, music, and animation... I dunno, it all comes together to make me believe in the Medieval setting... albeit with a more modern sensibility, vis a vis a girl training to become a knight and voicing her opinions and stuff, and being friends with a dragon, and uh... you know, everything being fairly peaceful, and all... And... I dunno, I guess it's just a shame the show didn't last longer...