World News – UK – Zog and the Flying Doctors Review: A Superior Sequel That Will Entertain Adults As Well As Children


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This festive sequel to the 2018 Christmas Day animation is a funnier, even sweeter adventure.

Friday 25th. December 2020, 8:00 a.m.

As parents of small children no doubt already know, Zog is the adorable young orange-colored dragon from the children’s picture book by Gruffalo creators Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler for 2010.

Magic Light Pictures turned Scheffler’s drawings into a beautifully animated Christmas special for 2018, in which it was told how accident-prone Zog tried to earn golden « Best Student » stars in the dragon school, and at the same time befriended Princess Pearl, who got away dreamed of being a doctor when she was growing up.

It was a lovely little story, but the Christmas follow-up – Zog And The Flying Doctors, based on the sequel book – is a funnier, even sweeter adventure that will keep adults and children entertained alike. With its medical theme, it’s also a surprisingly poignant contemplation for 2020, with a beautiful story and happy narration from Sir Lenny Henry wrapping viewers in the big, warm hug we’ve all longed for this year.

The new half-hour adventure takes up the story of Zog and Pearl when, with the help of the knight Sir Gadabout, the two realize their dream of flying through the kingdom and helping affected creatures. They come to the aid of a sneezing lion, a sunburned mermaid and a unicorn with an uncomfortable second horn, but when a storm forces them to land at Perle’s uncle, the king’s castle, he is appalled that a princess wants to become a doctor and locks Pearl away to learn how to be right and regal (which seems to have something to do with embroidery).

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Of course, Zog and Gadabout – whose rivalry is heightened here with lots of fun little side effects that make everyone giggle – try to save them, usually with disastrous results. Pearl finally has a chance to escape alone, but when the king falls ill, she decides to stay and take care of him instead of taking a break for freedom.

Magic Light again delivers some great animations for the adventures of Zog and Pearl. They take full advantage of the wider world of this sequel, filling our TV screens with lush forests and pretty beaches, the grand castle, a lions den, and smaller details like the mermaid’s shiny scales (and the very painful looking sunburn – wear a hat, kids) and the delicate cakes that surround Pearl in her locked castle bedroom.

The characters themselves are beautiful to look at too, in keeping with Axel Scheffler’s original sketches, which kids appreciate but are brought to life by the animators, from Pearl, Gadabout, and the King to Pearl’s strict governess (and her cuddly cat) and natural , tall, hobbling train seriously fighting How To Train Your Dragon’s Toothless for the title of cutest dragon ever.

In addition to Henry’s story, there is a funny language work by Zog and Flying Doctors, including Rob Brydon as King, Patsy Ferran as Pearl, Hugh Skinner as Zog, Mark Bonnar as Unicorn, Alexandra Roach as Mermaid, Lucian Msamati as Lion and Daniel Ings as Sir Gadabout (Kit takes over Harington, but you won’t notice as Gad mostly grunts and snorts).

It’s, of course, Julia Donaldson’s bright, sparkling rhyming prose that holds it all together, and her words will endlessly recite little fans after multiple visits (like her books, the animated adaptation is one that kids will go back to again and again and – be warned, Parents – again).

While Pearl’s story is determined to become a doctor despite being told she can’t, the empowering idea is that we should all have the chance to be who we want to be. It’s hard to believe the need to say it yet, but yes, little girls can really grow up to be doctors and scientists like Pearl, and this year especially, we’ve all been reminded of how important these jobs really are and how amazing the people are it is they who carry them out.

And while Donaldson and Scheffler’s book was published in 2016, and the production of this animated special was last year, before anyone heard of COVID-19, we see Pearl and her friends taking care of those in need medically enough to get a lump down your throat between the smiles.

Of course, the youngest viewer may not understand why the adults in the room give crooked chuckles when a pigeon is a socially distant step away from its sick partner, but they’ll surely understand why the mermaid is the lion, the unicorn – and finally the King – thank Pearl, Zog and Gadabout for their care and also realize how special these fantastic flying doctors are when they fly back into the sky.

Find something new to watch with our TV guide or read our guides on the best Christmas TV and the best movies on TV for Christmas

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Zog and the Flying Doctors, Zog, UK, Gavin & Stacey

World News – UK – Zog and the Flying Doctors review: a superior sequel that will entertain adults as well as children


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