A New Beginning?

The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon ceased production in 1997. No DVDs have been released.

For fourteen years, the property languished, existing only in reruns. In 2008, Breakthrough licensed the series for broadcast on APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) in Canada, and in 2009, through Ameba.tv for the internet.

Will the duh-ragon and his friends return in new adventures? There is hope.

On February 9, 2009, Global License! magazine reported Breakthrough’s desire to launch a CG version of Dudley. Executive producer Joan Lambur said, “We’re very excited about giving the lovable Dudley and his friends a large-scale makeover and introducing the series to a new generation of kids’ audiences.”

C21 media.net also passed along the report: “Breakthrough revamps Dudley.”

A computer-generated Dudley? That would be akin to turning Kermit the Frog into a CG character. It wouldn’t be the same.

Ideally, Dudley and his puppet friends could still be puppets, performed by the people who know the characters best. Certainly Kirk Dunn, Jim Rankin, and Sue Morrison know best how they move and emote, more than any overseas animator.

Still, it is possible to construct a CG character and have it look like a puppet. Richard Taylor’s Weta Workshop proved that with his breakthrough TV series, The WotWots.

Spotty Wot and Dotty Wot may be computer-generated and human-animated, but they look and move like puppets.

See for yourself.

If the show is totally key-framed in CG, and outsourced overseas, one takes the risk of employing inexperienced animators for the sake of saving a buck. Case in point: Animalia, a CG series animated in Australia, had its characters move stiffly in robot-like fashion. Personality animation was minimal. Four seasons of the show were produced, but only one-and-a-half seasons aired in the U.S. Viewership was inadequate and for good reason: Kids are used to Pixar-quality animation. Anything less than that, they ignore.

For Dudley, CG could still be applied to the characters in scenes beyond the physical capability of the puppet–say, in scenes that call for the Robins to fly or Caveman to throw Dudley through the air.

The press released noted Graham Greene’s interest in doing the show. Presumably, he would engage in motion-capture—like John Hurt, here, performing The Great Dragon for BBC’s Merlin series. What a relief not to wear a heavy, cumbersome rubber suit!

Ideally, a new Dudley series would blend CG with live-action. Richard Taylor proved it could be done seamlessly, and convincingly.

Can it happen? Certainly. Will it happen? Hopefully.

To quote another green-skinned character, “Always in motion is the future.”