Friday, December 17, 2010

Never Mind "Terra Nova", Let's Watch Dinosaur Children's Shows!

So there is a show called "Terra Nova" coming to Fox sometime next year. You love dinosaurs, I love dinosaurs, we all love dinosaurs, so you might have heard of it. We know exactly this much about it:

1) It involves Steven Spielberg.
2) There's at least one dinosaur in it.
2.5) But don't call it "'Lost' with dinosaurs".
3) The plot has something to do with some humans from the future traveling through time to live in the Mesozoic era. Apparently the Earth is dying in the future and so people go back to the past to set right what once went wrong.

Now, call me cynical but it occurs to me that the plan to send humans back to pre-human times in a bid to fix the ecological catastrophes humans have caused in the future is... flawed. What if it just gives us another seventy-million years to eff things up?

(Light-bulb goes *ping!*)

Oh my God -- here's my bet on how this series will end. The humans settle in about a thousand years or so from the end of the Cretaceous, and it turns out that (wait for it) Natalie Portman was a swan the whole time! Also, that time-traveling humans contributed to the K-T extinction.

Also, I will wager you that whatever the plot actually is, the dinosaurs will still look like they did in the "Jurassic Park" movies. I am ready to say I will wear a frilly tutu or something equally silly all day long, with all the inconveniences that implies, if we see just one feather.

Sketch of The Day, right in the middle of the post!

11.7.10 Sketchbook Page detail

Yeah. But never mind "Terra Nova" for now. Are there any shows on TV involving dinosaurs we could watch right now? Well, yes there are.

The first series is the one I have the least to say about, for ill and for good. It's called "Dino Dan" and it airs on Nick Jr. It is - and this is the intriguing part - made with the cooperation of the venerable Royal Tyrell Museum. You can bet your hindquarters the dinosaurs on the show are going to be as accurate as possible given the production date.

And the limitations of the animation budget. The dinosaurs are CGI creations (we will be seeing a lot of this) and the animation can get a little wonky. It's nice that the Compsognathus has feathers, but it also looks like he stuck his toe in an electrical socket. .

The premise behind the show is that Dan Henderson (awesome) is a kid who loves animals and knows an awful lot about them. And he sees dinosaurs where others don't. Aside from teaching the audience about Ornithodirans of all kinds, the show informs it's young audience that everyone loves small children who are insufferable know-it-alls total nerds. Interesting.

"Dino Dan" is at least far better than our second dinosaur-involving children's show. Then again, most things are. Currently airing in an early-morning death slot on The Hub, "DinoSapien" is a British/Canadian co-production. And it is *weird*. And I don't mean the fun kind of weird.

The plot: A girl goes to a dinosaur-themed summer camp in the woods and meets the titular creature, named Eno. Eno looks like what would have happened if E.T. had an illicit affair with Dougal Dixon's Dinosauroid (seen at the 2:00 mark). He is, all told, an odd-looking protagonist for a kid's show. On the one hand, I like that they aren't afraid to let Eno enter the uncanny valley (I can't help but think we'd have a horrific instinctual reaction to an actual flesh-and-blood anthropomorphic animal-person; I base this theory on the comments under those Orangina ads), but a part of me wishes he'd been allowed to be a little cuter.

He's supposed to be a kind of Dromeosaur, and he sports a few feathers but is otherwise naked. And he has really strange hands. He at least is a little more believable than the Diggers, which are another kind of dinosaur lurking around the campground. I have no idea what's going on with them.

The show itself is very reminiscent -for ill and for good- of the live-action sci-fi series from Nickelodeon in the early '90s. You're going to see a lot of bad animation and annoying children. I was beginning to feel very distraught over this project...

But then...

Oh, but then...

Let us now watch "Dinosaur Train". Indeed, let us watch "Dinosaur Train: every day. Because it might be the greatest and best kids' animated series with dinosaurs in it and should maybe even have a spot on my DVR in-between "My Little Pony" and "The Walking Dead" (someday, my prince will come ). But I am getting ahead of myself.

Initially, when this series was announced, people were skeptical. It was hard not to be when all we had was a title. Muses Ryan Roe of the great Muppet fan site "Tough Pigs", "they (must have) arrived at the idea of Dinosaur Train after rejecting Space Bulldozers, Kittens Eating at McDonald’s, Cupcakes Playing Drums, and Dead Bugs with Moustaches." And then... the show premiered.

I am not going to get to wordy here. People, there is an episode with Therizinosaurs doing Tai-chi. There are Therizinosaurs and they are in a cartoon for kids AND THEY ARE DOING MARTIAL ARTS AND THIS IS AWESOME!!! Also, they have feathers. Matter of fact, minor theropod characters are more likely to have them then to prance around naked. Nerd glee!

Addendum: More, and far more detailed, reasons you need to let your kids watch "Dinosaur Train" over at DinoGoss


Feederwatch Friday!

Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Rock Pigeon 4
Downy Woodpecker 1
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Northern Cardinal 1
House Sparrow 25


Festive Things of the Day!

Speaking of Muppets, those of you in the New York City area (specifically, Brooklyn) can attend the Muppet Vault Christmas event this coming Sunday! Nobody made Christmas specials like the Muppets, and the Tough Pigs gang will be showing some of their favorite lost classics. Perhaps they will include this crazy thing?

And if you are in North Conway, New Hampshire, you can do what my cousin and I did this July and visit the Christmas Loft. Granted, visiting this place during Christmas isn't going to have the same impact, but even so it... it is something to see, I can promise you that.

AND there is, finally, a new Homestar Runner Decemberween episode!