The 90’s was a weird time for animated children’s shows. Voice acting and animation standards were both painfully low, but because shoddy production didn’t cost much, it seems like if you could throw together a concept in under twenty seconds, network executives would give you a primetime spot. In 1995, Anthony and John Gentile, living as they did in this golden age of anything-goes production, presumably hit a massive blunt and then pitched something along the lines of “What if… Mad Max, except like throw in some Star Wars shit and like… there are dragons”. Out of this visionary dream came Dragon Flyz, a children’ show about a barren earth shattered by nuclear war, where a tiny group of survivors has built a floating city to escape the irradiated wreckage of what they call “Old Earth”. Also dragons exist now and you can ride them. How? Nuclear mutation. Don’t think about it too hard, okay, there are just dragons now and they understand English and it’s cool as hell. They eat lava.
I was convinced that I had imagined the existence of this show for a good ten years or so, because I slightly misremembered the title, and every time I tried to explain the plot to people to ask if they remembered it, they looked mildly concerned. It wasn’t until I happened upon a relative’s VHS copy of the equally-90’s movie Magic in the Water that I was vindicated, because on that VHS was a preview for the Dragon Flyz VHS. Armed with the correct title, I was recently able to find the episodes on YouTube, and boy was this show even weirder than I remembered.
The Dragon Flyz are a group of four siblings who live in the floating city Airlandis and ride semi-intelligent dragons who help them run errands and fight the bad guy (Dreadwing) and his bad dragon (Blackheart). Dreadwing and his henchpeople are also weird humanoid reptile creatures. This is never explained, but I assume it’s because they still live on the irradiated surface of the Earth and are mutated or something. Dreadwing’s goal is to either destroy or rule over Airlandis, depending on how he’s feeling that day and what the evil dialogue calls for. The show ran for twenty-six episodes and has no conclusion, suggesting that it was cancelled, but considering there’s not all that much overall plot development throughout most of the show, that’s hardly surprising.
Upon re-watching it, I realize that I was captivated by three specific aspects of the show: 1) dragons 2) floating city 3) lava. One male character getting shirtless in the first episode may have sweetened the deal, because even at age five I had a track record of being preoccupied with male beauty, but the show didn’t have much substance. The four main characters are vapid and uninteresting, the villain is both overblown and underdeveloped, and very little actual plot ever happens. The Dragon Flyz’s main job is collecting something they call “amber crystals” (which are purple, go figure) as a fuel source to keep Airlandis afloat. There are some surprisingly dark schemes by Dreadwing, like in the second episode where he kidnaps one of the dragon’s eggs and then mutates the baby and trains it to fight its mother, but the character development potential for the more serious episodes isn’t really utilized.
While the three male siblings are all dull, the token female character is portrayed in a weirdly sexist way right off the bat. While it’s a relief that she isn’t a love interest, at least, she does some very unsettling flirting with the lizard creature that attacks her in the first episode, saying things like “no touching on the first date!” and “girls like to be chased!” I know these lines were surely the result of some sad dude half-trying to write “cute” and “female” dialogue, but through the lens of adulthood, it comes off as her having a lizard fetish.
I know that Dragon Flyz was meant to be a kids’ show, and it may seem picky of me to expect too much from the writing, but there is a reason some 90’s shows have stood the test of time and some haven’t. If you have a vague memory of Dragon Flyz, it might be worth your time to watch a few episodes to get your nostalgia on, but if you’ve never seen it or don’t remember it, definitely don’t bother. In spite of my fond memories and its intriguing concept, it’s a subpar show and you probably won’t get much out of it.