The Last Dragon

I can’t decide whether this was a phenomenally stupid or fantastically brilliant idea. Obviously we are used to drama-doc versions of scientific discoveries, and we are accustomed now to CGI versions of wildlife documentaries – Walking With Dinosaurs was a huge success with its speculative but mostly solidly founded representations of how dinosaurs lived. What this show did was take those two things and intertwine them, and its really fresh idea was to make it about something where there is no evidence of its reality: dragons.

We get a young palaeontologist examining new finds and starting to conclude that dragons were real, tracking down leads, working out the biology that allowed these giant creatures to fly and even to breathe fire. In parallel with this, we get a wildlife-style CGI presentation of dragons in action.

And that’s the selling point here: dragons flying around, breathing flame, killing medieval knights (there was a bit too much keenness to tick off all the famous dragon reference points – they barely held back from naming St George in one of these scenes), hunting tigers in forests and, best of all, battling a tyrannosaurus.

It was a bit shoddy in some ways: the money and care spent on the dramatisations wasn’t really proportional to the glories of the CGI, so we had third-rate acting, and there was some lousy scripting in both strands – I cringed at “Fire was the ace that kept dragons one step ahead of the competition.” In what sense does an ace keep someone a step ahead? Still, it was a pleasure to watch, for the most part, and I wonder if this will herald a new subgenre, if there are similar shows about Nessie and Yetis and so on to come.