A well done show that looked at society in a highly funny way.
A few commentary tracks on this release would have been nice.
Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons gives us 24 episodes of the Sinclair family. This is a pack of dinosaurs in the year sixty million and three B.C.. Basically, this show could be humans with the father Earl, wife Fran and their children Robbie, Charlene and their baby. Living with them is Grandma Ethyl who is anything but the good natured granny we have come to expect. The idea is that these dinosaurs are domesticated and they have all the traits that humans do. Earl works a regular job, Fran tries to be a doting wife and his children are experiencing all the growing pains kids experience in life.
Featuring state-of-the-art animatronic dinosaurs, I was amazed at how easy it was to get into this show. I was a little worried that it might be too cute or try too hard to be something it wasn't. Thankfully, I was wrong. Like Fraggle Rock before it, Dinosaurs is the kind of show that makes a statement about human beings, all while brilliantly giving it to us in the embodiment of cute dinosaurs.
Well, maybe the Dinosaurs another story...
Pre-Hysterical Times: The Making of Dinosaurs
This is a somewhat comprehensive look at this show's history from the concept (which the creators came up with over lunch), to fleshed out idea, to the issues looked at over the course of it's four year run. We are taken deep into the writing process where it seemed like a free for all, with the writers coming up with ideas for the Sinclair family from their very own lives. Sadly, Jim Henson died during this show's production, but it is clear that while he was gone, he certainly left an imprint and will never be forgotten.
Creating Dinosaurs: The Sketches that Started it All
Kirk Thatcher, one of the writers on the show, takes us through the characters that inhabited this show, and shows us how they evolved over it's run. As I am into animation, I love seeing character sketches because it's like getting a glimpse at the creative process right as it is happening. This sketches were really something to look at, especially considering how "lifelike" the puppets ended up looking on this show.
Easter Eggs (with some help from the creators of the bonus features) are shown to be layered all throughout these DVD. While the eggs themselves really aren't anything that special, they do point out certain hidden things about the show. I didn't go through all of them but I plan to when I have more time. Overall, if you are a fan of this show, you will most likely appreciate what these have to offer.
Full Screen - 1.33:1. I had never seen Dinosaurs before I was asked to watch it but I was honestly amazed at the puppetry. When one considers the kind of human movement and nuance needed to pull these characters off, it is honestly incredible how these things end up looking. Also, they were putting across a human world with dinosaur puppets. The foreground, middleground and background was always harmoniously in synch with one another. All of this presents itself quite nicely in the 24 episodes here.
Dolby Digital Stereo Sound. I was surprised that this being a family show, it didn't incorporate a laugh track. Not that it needed one, it just seemed like the fun kind of family show that would lend itself to that sort of thing. I was able to hear what all the characters had to say, and truthfully once I started going through the episodes, I was hooked. The audio was fine for the purposes of this show, as it really did little more than support the action on screen.
I don't know that I have ever reviewed a DVD set with this kind of packaging before. The front cover features what looks like Earl holding a cracking baby's egg. The back shows us some images from the show, it offers a succinct description, a Bonus Features listing and some technical specs. This packaging is a box with a removable top. Once you take that off, a baby is smiling at you and you can flip open the discs like a book. They have put the four discs in two double trays, and on the back cover of this "booklet" is some liner notes on the show and an episode index. Overall, nifty and unique packaging for a show that deserves it.
Considering that this show is presented by Jim Henson Productions, I am not surprised that it has the great writing and character schemes that it does. What is surprising is that he never thought he would become famous because of his puppetry. He simply saw it as a way to get himself on TV. Now, Dinosaurs may not have been his show per se, but it was something he had a hand in and based on the supplemental features, it seems like the creators of this show certainly welcomed his input. This show has a soulful quality and what really made it work for me was the sense of family. Adults could watch this show with their kids and they could both enjoy it. It is adult enough to appeal to an older audience, but features enough site gags and simple jokes to keep the kids interested.
Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons is certainly worth checking out.