Available today on Netflix, a new 13-episode journey takes How to Train Your Dragon fans on another adventure with Hiccup, Toothless, and the dragon riders of Berk. Set between the first and second film, Dragons: Race to the Edge follows Hiccup and Co. after they discover a mysterious and powerful relic known as the Dragon Eye, which leads them to uncharted territories and undiscovered dragons.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the DreamWorks campus and screen the first two episodes of the series. Executive Producers Doug Sloan and Art Brown and all the fantastic talented members of the crew have successfully crafted an extension of the How to Train Your Dragon world that feels right at home alongside the movie franchise, while existing with an independent identity. Much like the films, the series is rooted in the classic coming-of-age tale and the journey of growing up, as hiccup’s exploration of the world around him serves as an allegory for his adolescent path to adulthood. The animation, too, is able to stand proudly next to the films, a marked improvement over anything seen in the previous DreamWork’s Dragons television series.
While at the studio, I also had an opportunity to speak with a number of behind-the-scenes talent, including Sloan and Brown, director Elaine Bogan, and a number of the writing staff. They all had a lot to say about the fantastic new Netflix show, so I’ve put together a list of 15 things to know about Dragons: Race to the Edge below.
- The film is both a prequel and sequel of sorts, set between the first and second film. The action picks up about a year before How to Train Your Dragon 2 when Hiccup is roughly 19 years old.
- Over the course of the series you’ll see plot points addressed that lead to the beginning of How to Train Your Dragon 2, like how Stoic gets his dragon and the developing relationship between Hiccup and Astrid. Conversely, the narrative designed for the show will be resolved in a way that leaves the Vikings of Berk exactly where the cannon established part 2 picks up.
- Most of the major vocal talent behind the films returned for the series including Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera, who provide the voices of Hiccup and Astrid, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs, and T.J. Miller as Tuffnut. New additions to the voice cast are Andree Vermeulen as Ruffnut and Zack Pearlman as Snotlout.
According Sloan and Brown, it was quite easy to convince Baruchel to return for another series as the voice of Hiccup, despite the fact that he’s committed to delivering performances even as he’s directing his first feature film Goon 2. The producers explained that he feels an ownership over the role and no one will play hiccup but him.
- For the characters who had to be recast, (In the films, Ruffnut is voiced by Kristen Wiig and Snotlout by Jonah Hill), the producers decided not to search for sound-alikes, but to pursue the best vocal performer for the role.
- One of the writers’ favorite aspects of the series is that it allows their favorite supporting characters from the film to step into more active, central roles.
- The series kicks off when Hiccup and Toothless discover a mysterious artifact known as the Dragon Eye, a mysterious relic that holds countless secrets about undiscovered dragons and they world beyond Berk. The Dragon Eye acts as the springboard for Hiccup and the Dragon Riders to leave Berk for the first time in pursuit of undiscovered worlds, new dragons, and unforetold adventures.
The Dragon Eye is a multifunctional tool that functions through a combination of three different elements: Dragon fire, jewels, and lenses. Different dragon fires combined with different lenses reveal new and different information, and the lenses are scattered throughout the land, each opening up a new adventure in turn.
- The creators are very intent on making a show that appeals to kids and grown-ups alike, writing first for themselves so they know adult audiences will enjoy it too.
- The writers worked in tandem with the film series creator Dean Dublois to make sure they aren’t treading on any storylines or emotional beats he’s heading toward in the third film.
- For the first time in the franchise, the dragon riders leave the safety of Berk behind and discover a new island called Dragon’s Edge. There, the riders establish a base of operations for their new adventures of exploration.
Each rider gets their own hut on Dragon’s Edge island, and every abode was designed to reflect both the personality of the rider and that of their dragon. For example, Hiccup’s hut (pictured to the right) is a mechanical contraption that reflects his engineer’s mind, color-matched to Toothless’ design. As you’ll se in the series, Astrid’s hut reflects her practical, combative nature with heavy armor and a ballister on top.
- Dragons, dragons dragons! Get ready to meet lots of new breeds of dragons including the Snow Wraith, the Deathsong, the Razorwhip, the CatastrophicQuaken and the tiny, flocking Night Terrors.
- Sloan and Brown pointed out that it’s a challenge to constantly introduce the names and characteristics of new dragons without making it sound forced or bookish.
- Taking advantage of the latest technological advances in television animation, the series is elevating the art of animation on television, conquering previously cost-prohibitive details like crowd sequences and water interaction.