Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Blazing Dragons! (1996)

It is no surprise at all how much the team behind Monty Python's Flying Circus have influenced both the comedy and animation world with their surreal, off-the-wall, totally-and-utterly bonkers sketches and characters. In particular, their ventures on the big screen with Life Of Brian or - most famous of all - the Holy Grail.

In fact, one of the Python players, Terry Jones, seemed to have had an affection with the Holy Grail ever since it hit cinemas in 1975. So much so that, in way or another, he tried to keep the spirit of that movie alive through other projects of his own - which included an award-winning musical on stage.
But back in 1996, he developed a lesser-known animated series known as Blazing Dragons, and shortly after a Playstation Game as a supposed "tie-in". The game - even rarer than the series - was as close to the Python insanity as possible with a number of sexual innuendoes and eccentric characters. It also boasted of an impressive voice cast (including Terry himself).

Another famous parody of King Arthur, the game focused on the Dragon Knights of Castle Camelhot - in particular young Flicker, where the player has to solve puzzles and collect objects in order for him to become a knight, compete in the grand tournament and win the heart of Princess Flame. The game becomes more interesting when a plot to kidnap the princess is uncovered...

The cartoon of the same name was a little different. Unlike the game, much of the humour in the series wasn't as "risque". However, the air of Python was still there as evident in the theme tune - likely inspired by the Holy Grail's "Camelot" number - and the variety of characters involved. From the two-headed Jester, Cinder and Clinker, to the effeminate Sir Blaze (whose behaviour got the series into a spot of bother when it aired in the US...ahem!).

All the same, what the series offered was still jolly good fun - turning the tables (round or otherwise) of the Dragon vs. Knight scenario, which saw Camelhot under constant attack of the Evil Count Geoffrey, forcing Flicker and Princess Flame to save the day.

The show ran for two seasons on CITV in the UK and Toon Disney in the US, during which time Blazing Dragons underwent a complete makeover for the second season. Half-hour episodes were split into two 15-minute segments while characters were redesigned, downsized or removed altogether. The amount of changes made for Season 2 have either improved certain areas or just left viewers scratching their heads - fans especially bring up the dip of quality in the animation.

Otherwise, it's another wee gem that's worth relighting the fire, so far as DVD or TV repeats are concerned ;-)

SERIES 1 PLAYLIST

SERIES 2 PLAYLIST

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