Three big cheers for three animated cartoons depicting two friendly kids and their magical dragon buddies encouraging each other to learn new skills. In each 12-minute episode, Emmy and her little brother, Max, wish their way to Dragon Land, a sunny, sparkling place where Barneyesque dragons accompany the kind children on various life-lesson adventures. Zak, half of a two-headed dragon, works through his embarrassment to learn swimming; Cassie, a favorite among three- to six-year-old girls, learns roller skating out of necessity; and the rather large, rather daft Ord overcomes his initial disappointment with bike riding.
From the creators of Sesame Street, Dragon Tales easily breaks through the monotonous contrivances that sadly muddy so many other well-drawn but poorly executed kid videos. This upbeat television series relies neither on pun-filled dialogue nor sourpuss friends, impossible bullies nor stereotyped siblings to carry the action. Rather, it combines smart, realistic dialogue (regardless of the fantasy element), beautiful animation, and creative storytelling. Other nice touches include stand-up-and-sing segments (each about 2 minutes long) between episodes and a 3-part credit roll at the tape's end. --Liane Thomas