In 19th century Belgium, in the Flanders countryside, lived a young boy with an artistic flair named Nello, and his faithful companion Patrash. Though poor in the physical sense, the two friends shared a rich life along with Alois, one of Nello's neighbors, and his grandfather, his last living relative. Though great sorrow and hardship looms closely in the future, one thing is for certain, the devotion and companionship of Nello and Patrash will never fade...
The movie remake of this series recaps the events of this series well, however there is a noteworthy difference in the experience of watching 52 episodes versus a 103 minute film. Foremost, by watching this version of Dog of Flanders you truely get to feel what daily life for Nello is like. The easy pace of every episode creates the illusion of following every moment of Nello's life, from his hard work delivering milk to Antwerp, playing with Allois, or drawing on the hillside, you're connection to this sweet, honest young boy develops right along with his growth as a child and as he finds his passion. You can't compare the way this series takes you along to anything else. Finding your passion and being compassionate are the major themes of this series. Nello is terribly poor and nearly putting bread on the table with his grandpa - and his new dog Patrash creates another mouth to feed. Grandpa overworks himself secretly in order to provide Nello whatever fun childhood moments he can - freetime to play with others and time to focus on drawing, something that most villagers look down on as being an unfit hobby for impoverished people ("if you have time to draw, you should spend it working!"). So Nello is seen as an "idler", though in reality he's one of the most hardworking characters I've seen across all of World Masterpiece Theater's productions. As much work as Nello does, no one except Allois truely knows how much merit he possesses. She's always there in his defense for all the false accusations Mr. Hans puts on Nello's head, just because he's an easy target to place blame on. As many people that are out to make life difficult for Nello, an equal amount of sympathetic individuals exist at his side too. That is where we see many examples of reciprocated neighborly love as each help one another with various tasks or simply are generous to one another. These are the characters that add the sweetness we crave in a show like this. It does take some patience to watch this series. Half might not give it a try because it's so old, a quarter will get bored and give up... so an eighth of you will probably make it through all the way and end up in tears just like me. The writers of this story were quite cruel and save their best acts for the finale. Although a children's tale, the ending of Dog of Flanders has me wondering just how real kids reacted to watching this. Heck, I'm 20 and it suckerpunched me to the core... it's a very worthwhile watch due to such an impactful twist. There's quite nothing like it, so if you'd like to relax in the changing seasons of a comely village in Flanders to be hit with a few surprises, do take up this show! It's really something to enjoy just as slowly as Nellos walks to Antwerp everyday.
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