Spirit Riding Free
GenreAnimation
Adventure
Based onSpirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
by John Fusco
Developed byAury Wallington
Voices of
Theme music composerKari Kimmel[1]
Opening theme"Riding Free", performed by Maisy Stella
Ending theme"Riding Free" (Instrumental)
ComposersJoachim Horsley (S1)
James Allen Roberson (S2-8)
Sunna Wehrmeijer (Pony Tales and Riding Academy)
Peter Bateman (Pony Tales and Riding Academy)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons10
No. of episodes78 (+ 2 specials) (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Aury Wallington (1-8)
  • Jim Schumann[2](co-executive producer; S7-)
  • May Chan co-executive producer (Pony Tales and Riding Academy)
Running time23 minutes[3]
Production companyDreamWorks Animation Television[4]
DistributorNBCUniversal Television Distribution
Netflix Streaming Services
Release
Original networkNetflix
Original releaseMay 5, 2017 (2017-05-05) –
December 8, 2020 (2020-12-08)
External links
Website

Spirit Riding Free is a computer-animated series, produced by DreamWorks Animation Television and distributed by Netflix, based on the 2002 Oscar-nominated traditionally animated film, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and the first series in the Spirit franchise.[5] The series was first released on Netflix on May 5, 2017.[3]

A feature film based on the series, titled Spirit Untamed, was released on June 4, 2021.[6][7]

Plot

Set in the small frontier town of Miradero, a 12-year-old girl[2] named Fortuna "Lucky" Esperanza Navarro Prescott, who had recently relocated from the city, encounters a wild kiger mustang named Spirit Jr., the son of Spirit and Rain, when she is on the train travelling to Miradero. The horse is caught by wranglers and brought to Miradero to be “broken in”. Lucky immediately bonds with the stallion and frees him from his pen. Lucky also makes friends with Prudence "Pru" Granger and Abigail Stone. Pru owns a talented and proud palomino horse called Chica Linda, and Abigail owns a friendly and goofy pinto horse called Boomerang. The three girls call themselves the PALs and go on many adventures with their horses.

Cast

Production

The first season premiered on May 5, 2017.[3] The second season premiered on September 8, 2017.[8] The third season premiered on November 17, 2017.[9] The fourth season premiered on March 16, 2018.[10] The fifth season premiered on May 11, 2018.[11] The sixth season premiered on August 17, 2018.[12] The seventh season premiered on November 9, 2018.[13] The eighth season premiered on April 5, 2019.[14]

Crew

The voice director for the first three episodes was Ginny McSwain. Katie McWane took over as voice director after that.

Episodes

Main article: List of Spirit Riding Free episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
16May 5, 2017 (2017-05-05)
27September 8, 2017 (2017-09-08)
37November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
46March 16, 2018 (2018-03-16)
57May 11, 2018 (2018-05-11)
66August 17, 2018 (2018-08-17)
77November 9, 2018 (2018-11-09)
86April 5, 2019 (2019-04-05)
Pony Tales 16[a]August 9, 2019 (2019-08-09)
Pony Tales 24October 18, 2019 (2019-10-18)
SpecialDecember 6, 2019 (2019-12-06)
Riding Academy 17April 3, 2020 (2020-04-03)
Riding Academy 29September 4, 2020 (2020-09-04)
Interactive SpecialDecember 8, 2020 (2020-12-08)

Webisodes and music videos

A number of webisodes and music videos have been released exclusively (except for "Unstoppable Music Video") on the DreamWorksTV YouTube channel during the course of the series.

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byStoryboarded byOriginal release date
-1"Magic Show"Jim SchumannRobert TaylorRick LacyAugust 22, 2017 (2017-08-22)
-2"Rainy Day"Jim SchumannRobert TaylorKennedy TarrellNovember 7, 2017 (2017-11-07)
-3"Mustang Mail Part 1"Jim SchumannRobert TaylorRick LacyJanuary 16, 2018 (2018-01-16)
-4"Mustang Mail Part 2"Jim SchumannRobert TaylorRick LacyJanuary 23, 2018 (2018-01-23)
-5"The Circus Mystery, Pt. 1: Magical New Tricks"Joshua TabackRobert TaylorJean KangJuly 24, 2018 (2018-07-24)
-6"The Circus Mystery, Pt. 2: Kidnapping in Miradero"Joshua TabackRobert TaylorJean KangJuly 31, 2018 (2018-07-31)
-7"The Circus Mystery, Pt. 3: The Bandit Standoff"Joshua TabackRobert TaylorJean KangAugust 7, 2018 (2018-08-07)
-8"Adventure Music Video"---September 23, 2018 (2018-09-23)
-9"The Grooming Wagon, Pt. 1: Horse Cleaning Calamity"---January 15, 2019 (2019-01-15)
-10"The Grooming Wagon, Pt. 2: Race Against the Clock"---January 22, 2019 (2019-01-22)
-11"The Grooming Wagon, Pt. 3: A Soapy Success"---January 29, 2019 (2019-01-29)
-12"Fast Friends: Abigail & Boomerang Meet for the FIRST Time!"---July 16, 2019 (2019-07-16)
-13"Fast Friends: Pru & Chica Linda Meet for the FIRST Time!"---July 23, 2019 (2019-07-23)
-14"Fast Friends: Lucky & Spirit Meet for the FIRST Time!"---July 30, 2019 (2019-07-30)
-15"Unstoppable Music Video"---August 6, 2019 (2019-08-06)

Home media

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Spirit Riding Free: Season 1–4, containing all of the episodes from seasons 1–4, was released on DVD on June 5, 2018 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. On September 24, 2019, Universal released Spirit Riding Free: Season 5–8, containing all of the episodes from seasons 5–8 on DVD. The series is also scheduled for DVD releases in the UK, France, Italy, and Germany. Spirit Riding Free: Spirit Of Christmas was released on DVD on November 11, 2021.

Film Adaptation

Main article: Spirit Untamed

On October 7, 2019, DreamWorks Animation announced that a feature film based on the series was in development scheduled for a theatrical release on May 14, 2021. It will be produced by DreamWorks Animation and released by Universal Pictures.[6] The film will be directed by Elaine Bogan and co-directed by Ennio Torresan Jr. in their feature directorial debuts, and written by the developer of the series, Aury Wallington, and produced by Karen Foster.[15] The film will be produced on a lower budget and be made by a different animation studio outside of DreamWorks, similar to Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie.[6] On November 10, 2020, the film's title was announced as Spirit Untamed, with a new release date of June 4, 2021.[7]

Video game

On December 4, 2019, Dreamworks Animation released a game for Android and iOS based around the series entitled Spirit Trick Challenge.[16][17]

Reception

The series was received positively. Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media described the series as "sweet," arguing that the series treats lightly on "factual strife between new settlers and the indigenous population," and said the series "raises issues, such as migration and assimilation" while saying that Lucky was a heroine who showed "courage, selflessness, and a tireless sense of adventure."[18] Ashby further argued that the series has stories that are "humorous and heartwarming" and themes which reflect the "changing atmosphere of the 19th century American West." Dave Trumbore of Collider, said that the series is less about social commentary and more about a girl, her horse, and "real, complicated friendships and life lessons learned in a refreshingly sincere manner."[19] Trumbore added that the series tames the message from the 2002 film, noted that in the early seasons of the series mainly focus on the "class divide," offering a sense of adventure rather than social commentary, and noted that while the animation is uneven, it is "an adventurous, kid-friendly series."

Ashby of Common Sense Media called the "Riding Academy" seasons of the series "geared toward tweens" and praised the series for having a "diverse group of characters," female characters who are self-confident, and characters "coping with challenges of growing up."[20] Ashby noted these seasons show "healthy self-awareness and emotional maturity for tween viewers," argued that unlike the "Spirit Riding Free" seasons doesn't "touch on themes of the historical time." Armaan Babu of Meaww called the series "one of the most wholesome and inspiring shows on Netflix," arguing that while it is aimed at one young girls, it is written well enough to connect with those of all ages, with the protagonists growing "into mature and responsible young adults."[21] Babu also noted that part 2 of the series dealt with heavier topics than part 1, and praised the series for being filled with characters who are "constantly, and genuinely supportive of each other."

Mandie Caroll of Common Sense Media called the two "Pony Tales" seasons "fun" and noted that while the series does not substantially confront "the actual history of westward settlement," it does focus on cheating, conflicts within friendships, and doing what's right.[22] She also said that while these collections are a bit disorganized, the seasons have the same storytelling and visual quality of the original series.

Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media reviewed the "Spirit Riding Free: Spirit of Christmas" special, calling it a "so-so holiday horse tale warms with timely themes."[23] While criticizing the film for "relegating the animals to mere afterthoughts" she said that the special is emotionally-laden and emphasizes themes perfect for a focus on Christmas. John Serba of Decider concurred, saying that he didn't understand the positive message trying to be sent, he thought it may have a "positive message for its target demographic."[24]

Emily Ashby reviewed the "Spirit Riding Free: Ride Along Adventure" special for Common Sense Media, describing it as "lengthy story tangents" that result in a "laborious interactive story."[25] She criticized the special for becoming an "exercise in guessing which choice might lead to the exit most quickly," but noted that involves much "realistic" peril for the young protagonists.

Notes

  1. ^ These are basically webisodes, not episodes, due their short length

References

  1. ^ Nashid, Naureen (March 30, 2017). "Interview with Kari Kimmel". Teal Magazine. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Milligan, Mercedes (April 18, 2017). "Trailer: DreamWorks' 'Spirit Riding Free' Races to Netflix". Animation Magazine. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Amidi, Amid (April 19, 2017). "TRAILER: 'Spirit Riding Free' Takes The Dreamworks Franchise In A New Direction". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  4. ^ McLean, Tom (April 30, 2017). "Perfect Match". Animation Magazine. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  5. ^ Steinberg, Brian (June 16, 2016). "Netflix Readies Animated 'Spy Kids,' 'Llama Llama' Series (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved June 18, 2016. "Spirit Riding Free," from DreamWorks Animation, is inspired by the 2002 Oscar-nominated film "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron"...
  6. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 7, 2019). "DreamWorks Animation & Universal To Release 'Spirit Riding Free' & 'The Bad Guys' In 2021". Deadline. Deadline. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  7. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 10, 2020). "Jennifer Lopez Romantic Comedy 'Marry Me' Heads To Summer". Deadline. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  8. ^ "DreamWorks' 'Spirit Riding Free' S2 Hoofs It to Netflix". Animationmagazine.net. August 23, 2017. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  9. ^ "Archive » Spirit Riding Free gallops into third season". Kidscreen. October 24, 2017. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  10. ^ "Spirit Riding Free, Season 4". March 29, 2018.
  11. ^ Haylock, Zoe (May 1, 2018). "Netflix's New Releases Coming in May 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  12. ^ Twitter announcement of Season 6
  13. ^ "Watch Spirit Riding Free Online--Season 7 (2018)". TV Guide. Archived from the original on June 13, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  14. ^ "Spirit Riding Free Season 8 Coming to Netflix in April 2019". What's on Netflix. March 12, 2019.
  15. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (October 7, 2019). "DreamWorks, Universal Slate 'Spirit Riding Free' & 'Bad Guys' for 2021". Animation Magazine. Animation Magazine. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  16. ^ "Spirit Trick Challenge". App Store. Apple Inc. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  17. ^ "Spirit Riding Free Trick Challenge - App Review". Common Sense Media. January 25, 2020. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  18. ^ Ashby, Emily (April 19, 2017). "Spirit Riding Free TV Review - Common Sense Media". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on July 17, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  19. ^ Trumbore, Dave (April 24, 2017). "Netflix's 'Spirit Riding Free' Tames the Stallion of the Cimarron but Keeps the West Wild". Collider. Archived from the original on April 23, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  20. ^ Ashby, Emily (June 28, 2020). "Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy TV Review". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on June 12, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  21. ^ Babu, Armaan (September 4, 2020). "'Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy' Part 2 Review: A wholesome, heartwarming story of friendship and maturity". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on June 13, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  22. ^ Caroll, Mandie (October 18, 2019). "Spirit Riding Free: Pony Tales TV Review". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on September 23, 2020. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  23. ^ Ashby, Emily (December 17, 2019). "Spirit Riding Free: Spirit of Christmas TV Review". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  24. ^ Serba, John (December 9, 2019). "Stream It Or Skip It: 'Spirit Riding Free: Spirit of Christmas' on Netflix, an Animated Adventure About Some Frontier Girls (and Maybe a Horse?)". Decider. Archived from the original on March 2, 2021. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  25. ^ Ashby, Emily (December 17, 2020). "Spirit Riding Free: Ride Along Adventure TV Review". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on June 13, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2021.