DVD Review: Dinosaurs - The Complete First and Second Seasons
By Jeff Swindoll May 7, 2006, 12:36 GMT
Dinosaurs follows the life of a family of Dinosaurs, living in a modern world. They have TV\'s, fridges, etc. The only humans around are caveman, who are viewed as pets and wild animals. ...more
“Not the mama, not the mama, not the mama”
Dinosaurs is the Emmy winning series from Jim Henson (sadly his last one), and Walt Disney brings together Season 1 (5 episodes) and Season 2 (24 episodes) in a 4 disc set that helps you to “Remember, must love the baby.”
Jim Henson had the idea that he wanted to do a sitcom but set in 60 million BC with dinosaurs in the human parts. Dinosaurs is about the Sinclair (named after the gas company) family, parents Earl (Stuart Pankin) and Fran (Jessica Walter) and kids Robbie (Jason Willinger), Charlene (Sally Struthers), and Baby (Kevin Clash, who also voices Elmo on Sesame Street). Other recurring characters include Grandma Ethyl (Florence Stanley), Earl’s friend Roy (Sam McMurray), Fran’s brontosaurus friend Monica DiVertebras (Sandy Plakson) and Earl’s explosive boss B. P. Richfield (Sherman Hemsley).
Episode 1: The Mighty Megalosaurus: Earl reminisces with Baby about his life before he arrived and tells of the time he asked his boss for a raise.
Episode 2: The Mating Dance: Fran is stressed by Baby’s early morning feedings and Earl takes over as mother/father. Earl decides that he’s the problem and to solve the problem he has to do the mating dance.
Episode 3: Hurling Day: On reaching their 72nd birthdays, the elder dinosaurs are hurled into a tar pit. Earl cannot wait since this year it’s mother-in-law Ethyl’s turn to be hurled.
Episode 4: High Noon: Fran is admired at the supermarket, but the problem is that Fran’s admirer Gary (Steve Landesburg) wants to fight Earl to the death for her hand.
Episode 5: The Howling: Robbie is supposed to go to the top of the mountain and howl as tradition dictates, however, he doesn’t want to.
Episode 1: The Golden Child: Baby eats too much sugar and a golden horn appears on his head. Baby is called to the Cave of Destiny where he’s made king of the dinosaurs.
Episode 2: Family Challenge: The TV breaks and Earl makes the family go on the Family Challenge game show to win another one.
Episode 3: I Never Ate for my Father: Earl wants Robbie to join the Young Man’s Carnivore Association (YMCA), but Robbie is a….gasp…..herbivore.
Episode 4: Charlene’s Tale: Charlene is a late bloomer and has yet to grow a tail.
Episode 5: Endangered Species: Earl’s Anniversary Dinner turns out to be an endangered species and Robbie tries to protect them.
Episode 6: Employee of the Month: Robbie brings the human he was supposed to dissect at school home as a pet and Earl is chosen employee of the month and thinks he’s on the way up the corporate ladder.
Episode 7: When Food goes Bad: The beasties in the refrigerator take over the house led by the half eaten General Chow (Tim Doyle).
Episode 8: Career Opportunities: Robbie goes to see the Job Wizard (Jason Alexander) to find out what career he’s being assigned. When it’s a tree pusher instead of a rock legend, he’s very disappointed.
Episode 9: Unmarried…with Children: Earl and Fran’s marriage license has expired (you have to renew it in DinoLand) and Earl can’t pass the renewal test.
Episode 10: How to Pick up Girls: Robbie is having trouble picking up girls so he goes to ladies man Spike (Christopher Meloni) for advice.
Episode 11: Switched at Birth: The Sinclairs discover they brought the wrong egg home from the hospital. Jason Alexander, Michael Dorn, and Mimi Kennedy guest voice.
Episode 12: Refrigerator Day: The Sinclairs celebrate the invention of the refrigerator (think Christmas), but what to do when the refrigerator is repossessed when Earl doesn’t get his Fridge Day bonus.
Episode 13: What “Sexual Harris” Meant: Earl helps a female get a job as a tree pusher but she’s harassed by fellow employee Sexual Harris (Jason Alexander).
Episode 14: Fran Live: Fran gets a job on TV giving advice to other dinosaurs, but Earl can’t handle a wife that works, until the paychecks start coming in. Tony Shalhoub guest voices.
Episode 15: Power Erupts: Robbie comes up when an invention for his science fair that harnesses the power of a volcanic eruption, until it threatens the WESAYSO corporation. John Vernon, William Schallert, and Edie McClurg provide guest voices.
Episode 16: The Clip Show: Sir David Tushingham (Paxton Whitehead) hosts a show about dinosaurs which uses clips of the show. Sigh, jump the shark time already?
Episode 17: A New Leaf: Robbie and Spike eat a strange plant in the woods which makes them very happy. He takes some of the plant home and Earl and Charlene are addicted as well. Earl even loses his job, but returns to find that everyone at work is addicted to the happy plant. Just say no to the happy plant and put an end to preachy sitcom endings!
Episode 18: The Last Temptation of Ethyl: Grandma Ethyl dies and is happily buried by Earl, but to his disappointment she returns from the dead. She tells of the afterlife and sets up a show with a televangelist (John Glover). The ghost of Grandpa Louie (Buddy Hackett) returns to set her straight when everyone wants to go to the afterlife.
Episode 19: Nuts to War, Part 1: The Pistachio supply is cut off by rival dinosaurs - which leads to war and Robbie is drafted. The episode is done in a style parodying the Winds of War miniseries. George Gaynes, and Gary Owens guest voice.
Episode 20: Nuts to War, Part 2: Since this is a miniseries parody you have to have another episode. Earl and Roy dress up as USO girls to rescue Robbie at the front. G. W. Bailey, Fred Travalena, and Jason Alexander guest voice.
Episode 21: And the Winner is…: B. P. Richfield (Sherman Hemsley) decides to run for Chief Elder and he picks a complete idiot to run against him so he’ll be assured a victory. Earl is that idiot.
Episode 22: Slave to Fashion: Charlene wants to impress rich girl Heather Worthington (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) with a new fox jacket. The fox (Tim Curry) is not quite dead and encourages Charlene to new heights of vanity and to steal Earl’s credit card.
Episode 23: Leader of the Pack: Robbie is beat up by a pack (read gang) and decides to join Spike’s pack. When they mistakenly think that he ate the current leader, he becomes leader of the pack.
Episode 24: WESAYSO Knows Best: WESAYSO Corporation needs the perfect, happy family to star in their self-promoting ad campaign. The Sinclairs get the job, but Earl is replaced by Roy.
Dinosaurs is a funny show that disguises its biting social commentary in Jurassic comedy. It’s definitely a very creative show and the dinosaur puppets are first rate. It also features some great voice talent in the starring roles and guest roles.
Dinosaurs is presented in fullscreen (1.33:1) as it was first aired on television. Special features include two documentaries. The first is 13 minutes and called “Pre-hysterical times: The making of Dinosaurs.” It has interviews with character designer Kirk R. Thatcher, executive producer Brian Henson, show creators Bob Young and Michael Jacobs, suit designer Peter Brooke, suit performer Bill Barretta, machinist John Criswell, and puppeteer Allan Trautman. I found it very interesting to see the inner workings of the Dinosaur suits. The second is 4 minutes and is called “Creating Dinosaurs: The sketches that started it all.” It’s an interview with character designer Kirk R. Thatcher and the sketches he did for the characters. Some of his original designs are greatly different than the finished product. Earl looks meaner and Ethyl was originally a pterodactyl that hung upside down.
Now comes the part where I complain a little bit. It would’ve been very welcome if they would’ve interviewed some of the voice talent for the show (Season 3 and 4 maybe?). Episode commentaries also would’ve been welcome. The four discs are also in two overlapping trays and my review copy had a broken hub. This unique, though creative, packaging cannot be easily replaced (it’s glued on a cardboard back) so I guess I just have to hope that the disc doesn’t fall out often. Finally, some of the special features are hidden as Dino (Easter) eggs. The ones I found on disc one appear to be parts of the documentaries (or at least shot at the same time), however, others I found on other discs appear to be vintage promotional material. I’m pretty sure I didn’t find them all since I’m lazy and like my special features upfront with no hunting involved. They’re easily found, but I didn’t have time to find them all.
Dinosaurs springs from the creative mind of Jim Henson. Sadly, he died about the time that the show premiered (the first show is dedicated to him). Fans of the show will definitely want to pick up this set.