Photo Courtesy: Decider
The television show Dinosaur that was aired between 1991 and 1994 is, for lack of better words, is one of my all-time favorite satirical, sardonic, yet most entertaining shows ever recorded in the history of comedy. The continuous flow of events coupled with the most elementary imaginations that any artistic work can accomplish allows the audience to follow an apparent reality resulting in contemporaneous struggles of reality against illusions.
However, through the storyline and within the complexity created by its characterization, I strongly feel that the producers have succeeded to bring out a greater degree of realism throughout the show.
The cinematographic significance of the show
Although the history of movies featuring dinosaurs dates back to over a hundred years, Dinosaur (1991-1994) was a perfect depiction of the imagined role of dinosaurs as film monsters.
The movie Prehistoric Peeps (1905) and a cartoon adaptation of the same name were the first films that featured dinosaurs. The movie popularized the general tendency of portraying primitive human-like creatures and non-bird-like dinosaurs existing together.
In most films, dinosaurs are gigantic with distinguishing characteristics such as horns, spikes, big teeth, and claws. Their absence as wild animals in the modern world provokes the imagination of the audience. The series was largely a masterpiece of a comical portrayal of dinosaurs triggering imagination of how they may have looked when they were alive.
The Lost World is a classic film that was the first full-length film featuring dinosaurs (1925). It is a story of dinosaurs that survived the mass extermination from the earth at the end of the Cretaceous era and lived unseen into contemporary times in an isolated corner of South America; it is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel of 2012.
My experience as a child
Like most children born in the eighties, I lived for the TV series Dinosaurs. My nights every Friday were planned around the show; even bribing the house- help sometimes to let me watch the show longer against the house rules set by my parents.
The show was mostly a feel-good family show, with silly plastic puppets. Honestly, I remember a lot about the show especially the baby dinosaur and his catchphrases “Gotta love me!” and “Not the mama!”
Baby dinosaur is the silly television chocolate intended to entice young audiences into the family sitcom with a surreptitiously serious objective. The show casts a shadow of a regular blue-collar family living their normal lives.
Earl Sinclair, the miserable father, sometimes makes sad dogmatic comments about his family but in the long run, makes the right decisions for his family. Fran, a sensible homemaker mother, knocks sense into his husband and her children every time they experience difficulties making the right decisions. Teenage kids struggle with their puberty life with the help of their parents.
Plot and Characterization
The first episode is an exaggerated story of how the baby came to being, overstated because it’s told a very intelligent, yet impatient baby Sinclair. It brings out the characters of the dad and the son, their relationship, and their honest view of each other. The youngest in the show is the baby in the Sinclair family, an overindulged but intelligent funny character. Hatched in the first episode of the series, "The Mighty Megalosaurus," the baby shows signs of intelligence right away. He unleashes his catchphrase, which I mostly consider a tag, “I'm the baby, gotta love me!" In the midst of the story, the baby is curious about whether or not he is yet in the story, or probably if he is the story.
However, the story is also a viewpoint of society and life in general of Earl Sinclair, the father dinosaur. It is a portrayal of how he views his life and his significance to his family. It’s also his sincere realization of the meaning of his existence. Towards the end of the debut episode, he goes to the jungle to find himself, disdainfully, to identify with his ancestors and probably understand what it means to be a real dinosaur. As he puts it in his soliloquy, the wilderness is where “his spirit belongs and where his soul longs to be”, with his ancestors. This is portrayed when his “escaped dinner” is stunned that a dinosaur is endeavoring to sleep in the jungle.
The series is nothing if not a sarcastic depiction of humor in the reality of our day-to-day life. Earl Sinclair is clearly not given a choice; the choices presented to him are not choices at all. Rather, he is given an opportunity to consider the irony of his existence and the “unfair” expectations of his family. He refers to the idea of family as “one of the civilizations worst ideas.” In the midst of the story, we see his daughter seeking to know how he is doing, but it goes without saying, she is after something, and that’s a sweater. His wife clearly expects him to want to know, even forces him, to ask how she spent her day. His son is at first portrayed as unfocused and in need of guidance, which Earl Sinclair is at the beginning is not acknowledging.
Nevertheless, in his dialogue with his supposedly “escaped dinner” who introduced himself as Arthur Rizzic, he is forced to get in touch with his emotions. For Mr. Rizzic, losing his residence meant losing his family, which is everything he got, and therefore losing his happiness, his life, his everything. The conclusion is for both, family is a constant source of bitter-sweet feelings arousing pleasure tinged with pain.
Baby Sinclair’s relationship with his father is evidently a source of both absurdity and humor, combining life’s little moments of happiness and life’s realities. His view of his father Earl Sinclair is almost certainly the view of the world to his father. He continuously batters him with a frying pan, a depiction of a playful lovely relationship and a disdainful attitude towards his father. This is comparable to Earl Sinclair’s life as it’s clearly portrayed by the difficulties he is going through in his workplace. The inside conflict between quitting his job and the imagined freedom that comes with it, and keeping his job is insensitive to his needs. His job is his only source of income and the only source of sustenance for his family.
The laugh track was invented in 1950 to give an impression of the world laughing with the audience. Television comedy series including animated cartoons adopted it to introduce a new kind of entertainment to their viewers. However, over decades this changed to ‘multi-camera recording methods capturing numerous angles instantaneously complete with live viewers amid laughter. In my opinion, watching The Dinosaur (1991), it doesn’t feel like the audience is missing out on anything by not having the laugh track; to clarify, this does not get rid of the comedy in the television series. I know it is an old-school concept to have laughs and it is nothing realistic than most of the present sitcoms, but by and large, I have always loved my television shows and movies without the laugh track. All of the popular sitcoms that came after choose to have it, and as I have experienced growth, I believe it has just made the show funnier rather than less. It is truly a testament to a show's writers and directors to have any laughs at all and maintain the show's integrity and humor.
If you have a strong love for good television series of the 90s then look for The Dinosaur (1991), you will probably agree with me that it is one of the greatest shows. I personally rank the show very high in my list of best television series that was ever produced. If you didn’t grow up in the 90s or never watched the show, my advice is you hurry and watch it because after, you will understand why I rank at the top.
I understand that the series has been off the air for a long time, but it was such a wonderful show that I hope the gig players in the entertainment industry will remember it. I am motivated to review the show positively because I honestly believe that it deserves recognition as one of the most entertaining shows that has stood the test of time with its portrayal of typical family life with a good balance of humor.
The show was a fantastic portrayal of society and its expectations. I was a child when the show started and ended, and it was one of my all-time favorites. I enjoyed it because it was so amusing. Many episodes contained messages about today's family life. Even though I was young and did not understand the deep meaning, the show remains fresh in my memory.