Through the Dragon’s Eye is one of those edutainment serials schools would put on to shut kids up, whilst the medium itself would attempt to deliver educational supplements to children through a safe and accessible kid’s fantasy world. They were harmless, ineffective, and a little boring. Upon revisiting the show, I expected a paint by numbers fantasy adventure where the children have to solve grammar-related riddles. What I got was a tale of apocalypse.
TTDE begins in true kids tv fashion. We meet our three main characters whose names I can’t remember as they are painting the EYE of a DRAGON on a mural in their school. “The most important part” is the eye, according to one of the kids, and that seems to be the case. Through the magic of cheap late eighties VFX, the painting of a dragon is transformed into a man in an awkward dragon costume that struggles to emote anything besides “mildly annoyed”.
Gorwen the dragon tells us that the “veetacore” has exploded and so everything and everyone is dying, and it is up to the kids to save the papier maché world of Pelamar through the power of reading.
The first episode has a lot of allusions to death and conflict which I found quite jarring. Gorwen has an allusion to violence in his name, and his confrontation with the keepers, Borris Norris and Doris (who look like they were involved in a playdough experiment gone horribly wrong) is aggressive and threatening and ends in Gorwen smashing down the door. I’m not opposed to violence in children’s media, within reason (I don’t expect Pepper Pig to end with a violent “last stand”) but it seems kind of weird that this was written with a young school audience in mind. It’s just a bit bleak, and when you’ve got characters with rhyming names and giant mice talking about the end of the world, there’s just something kind of creepy about it.
I think what I’m talking about can be best surmised in a scene from the episode in question. A message comes up on screen written rather than recorded so the children are the only ones that can read it. It reads:
“Great West Lake now High Fade zone. Nothing left alive. Keep away! Please!”
Through the Dragon’s Eye? More like try not to die, am I right?