The Flight of Dragons – television special review

"The Flight of Dragons" DVD cover.
“The Flight of Dragons” DVD cover.
Just over 30 years ago, The Flight of Dragons was brought to life by Rankin/Bass (the same people who did The Hobbit and The Last Unicorn). It is based on a book of the same title by Peter Dickinson.

I remember watching this on television when I was young, then re-watching the VHS tape that my parents recorded from TV until it wore out. When my husband recently found the DVD for a decent price, I was eager to see the show as an adult.

The Flight of Dragons was…about what I expected it to be. The storyline remains a fun, imaginative fantasy romp centered around Peter Dickinson—a polymath scientist—as well as would-be author and game designer. He finds himself pulled into his game (which he unknowingly based on a magical world of 10 centuries previous to his own time) by the wizard Carolinus.

Once there, he’s expected to lead a small team to seize the red crown of Ommadon—because evil wizards always put their powers into stuff like that, didn’t you know? The evil wizard Ommadon, unsurprisingly, plans to take over the world and prevent Carolinus from protecting magic and magical creatures from destruction. Sir Peter—as he’s known in this world of magic—immediately falls in love with the Princess Millisande, Carolinus’ beautiful ward.

Complications arise when Carolinus accidentally merges Sir Peter with Gorbash, the reckless young “house dragon.” After a bit of rearranging, the quest inThe Flight of Dragons proceeds. Peter/Gorbash, Sir Orrin Neville-Smythe (a knight), and Smrgol (an older dragon) begin the quest. They are joined along the way by Aragh the wolf, Giles the woodland elf, and Danielle of the Woodlands, an archer with whom Sir Orrin is immediately smitten.

After various adventures and mishaps, the group reaches Ommadon’s realm, and evil is vanquished. The manner of the vanquishing prevents Sir Peter—who manages to extract himself from the unwitting merger—from remaining in the realm of magic.

The dialogue is good in spots, but is stilted, contrived, and awkward in others. The voice actors did a good job with what they were given. Frankly, the other two Rankin/Bass productions mentioned above both had better voice acting. The animation in The Flight of Dragons was patchy, as well. The dragons and the backgrounds were quite well-rendered. Character designs (even for several of the main characters) were lackluster, and character development did not surpass it in its quality. My husband and I found ourselves giggling madly in several spots that were meant to be serious.

Despite its flaws, The Flight of Dragons was still a lot of fun to watch, and I’ll likely watch it again. It held my interest and reminded me of long-ago Saturday afternoons curled up in my favorite blanket in front of the TV. If you’re looking for a fun, quick fantasy show with a nostalgic quality to it, then this film is a good way to spend your time.

Original Air Dates: August 2, 1986 (USA)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: Not Rated
Network: ABC
Language: English

MySF Rating: Three point five stars
Family Friendliness: 100%


Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (brief wine and mead)
Language: 0
Nudity: 0
Sexuality: 1 (tasteful kissing)
Violence: 1 (some fighting, death)

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