The Wingfeather Saga

Three children and a dog look over a cliff anxiously.

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Paul Asay

TV Series Review

The land of Skree has seen better days.

Granted, it’s always been home to its share of oddities: bumpydigtoads with their stabbish elbows; fazzle doves with their (ahem) stenchy habits; toothy cows, which would be more likely to eat you than you to eat them.

But ever since the land was taken over by the Fangs of Dang (lizard-like folk who’d love the sound of claws on chalkboards), Skree has suffered under their leathery, clawed thumbs. In the township of Glipwood, they swipe family heirlooms as taxes, confiscate garden hoes as weapons and sometimes take people—even children—in the dead of night.

But such is the fate of the people of Skree, and most have learned to endure.

Take, for instance, the Igibys.

The Children of Mean Foes

Nia Igiby is one of the few humans whom the Fangs seem to appreciate. Why? She just happens to make the best maggotloaf around—even adding extra rats’ tails to the noxious stew to please them.

The rest of the family is not so well-tolerated, though. Podo Hemler’s a beefy ex-pirate whom the Fangs keep a close eye on. And there’s something subversive about the kids, too—something, perhaps, even dangerous.

Oh, they look harmless enough. Oldest son Janner always has his nose in a book. Tink, the middle child, is a mischief-prone lad, but his older brother keeps him in line … well, at least some of the time. And then there’s Leeli, the youngest. She’s certainly no threat. How could she be? Because of her twisted leg, she needs a crutch to get around. She’s hardly a threat to the Fangs.

And yet all three seem to have a mysterious connection to the sea dragons off the coast. And even though these siblings are no match for even one Fang on paper, they still seem to cause no end of disturbances.

Perhaps the children will need to be dealt with. Perhaps they will be the next to be picked up in the dark of night.

The Book on TV

The Wingfeather Saga began its own saga as a series of books—the first of which, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, was published in 2008. Its author, Andrew Peterson (who’s also a well-known Christian musician), is serving as an executive producer for the series, too. In an interview with Plugged In, Peterson said that the show gives him a chance to tell the story from a different angle—adding elements that just aren’t possible to add in written form.

The series, like Angel Studios’ The Chosen, is crowdfunded. And if all goes well, Peterson and showrunner J. Chris Wall say that they hope to chronicle all four books over the course of seven seasons.

The Wingfeather Saga is an adventure story at its core—filled with dastardly villains, scary animals (my favorite is the toothy cow) and perilous situations. Threats lurk around every corner, it seems, so it might not be suitable for the youngest of viewers. There’s just a wee bit of bathroom humor in the mix, too.

But those are about the only tiny quibbles to be had in this charming, engrossing show.

The Wingfeather Saga gives viewers a powerful story beautifully told. Part of that can be credited to the show’s unique animation style, which finds a middle path between polished Pixar-style CGI and 2D animation and feels almost like living watercolor. Part of that is a credit to Peterson’s likeable protagonists and the saga’s majestic scope.

And while The Wingfeather Saga isn’t overtly Christian, it carries with it a Christian ethos. It follows in the tradition of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia in a way, using a fantastical world to explore deeper themes: love, sacrifice, hope and the eternal struggle between good and evil. And sometimes, our heroes find the time to pray.

Jesus talked about how we are like farmers, sowing the seeds of the Good News in the world. Some of those seeds find good soil. Others do not.

But it seems that, every so often, storytellers sow seeds—seeds meant for children, but accessible to adults, too—that grow like lampposts in a new world. These stories that talk about eternal truths in creative ways capture the imaginations of their young readers or viewers and become not just a part of their lives, but sometimes inspiration for them to grow up and tell their own stories.

The bestselling Wingfeather Saga has done its own share of sowing on fertile ground. Will the show do the same? Only time will tell. But I kinda hope so.

Episode Reviews

Dec. 2, 2022—S1, Ep1: “Episode 1”

It’s Dragon Day: a massive festival in which residents of Glipwood gather to eat, play games and listen to the majestic sea dragons from the cliffside. It’s a day that not even Glipwood’s overlords—the dastardly Fangs—can wholly spoil. But for the Igiby children—bookish Janner, athletic Tink and sweet little Leeli—Dragon Day turns especially interesting. First, they have an unfortunate run-in with a particularly vile Fang. Then, they discover that all three seem to have an unusual connection with the sea dragons themselves.

The day before, Janner and Tink find themselves threatened by one of the region’s most fearsome animals, the carnivorous “toothy cow.” The animal forces the two boys to find refuge in a tree: Only when Tink sticks a “gloop fruit” on an arrow and shoots it into the forest do they find the space to escape. Meanwhile, Leeli and Podo (the children’s grandfather) round up nasty, weasel-like creatures who threaten their garden. (Podo reluctantly promises Leela that he won’t kill them.)

Elsewhere, we see a man taken away by a mysterious black carriage (and hear that other villagers, including children, have been spirited away in the night). A Fang nearly swallows a puppy. Kids battle the lizard-like creature, and it’s eventually buried underneath a falling chimney. (The fang survives relatively unharmed.) Podo’s forced to turn over a garden hoe, which the Fangs classify as weapons.

We see a fazzle dove, a creature known for its nasty flatulence. Fangs seem to like food that the rest of us would consider noxious and quease-inducing (as well as terrible music). There’s a story told about someone’s propensity to pick his nose. People and Fangs hang out at what appears to be a pub, drinking various beverages. (The Fang takes his without paying, of course.) Fangs also force Glipwood’s citizens to hand over valuables to cover their mysteriously flexible taxes. Tink has no problems breaking rules, and he encourages others to do the same.

Janner is sweet on a girl named Sarah Cobbler. The Digiby family prays around the dinner table, thanking the “Maker” for their blessings.

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paul-asay
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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