By Jeff Pfeiffer
Notable dinosaur illustrators and animators have gotten together for the intriguing new Discovery Channel series Dinosaur Revolution that, in the previews I saw, managed to recall for me the best dino-thrills and emotions that I also found in everything from the Walking With Dinosaurs series to the The Land Before Time films and the “Rite of Spring” dinosaur sequence in Disney’s Fantasia. Almost narration-free, the series presents CG-animated vignettes depicting life for various dinosaurs, using the latest theories of how we believe these animals behaved.
In each mini-story we follow particular dinosaurs through story arcs that sometimes encompass years of their lives. The stories are told with great imagination, and often a lot of wit — in some sequences even surprisingly recalling the physical comedy of a silent movie, or a Pixar flick, or the laughs one might get from watching a pet do silly things. But the humor is frequently punctuated by shocking violence as well, and the series does not forget the tough world that these creatures inhabited. (The “Littlefoots” in this realistic land before time don’t always live happily ever after.) In addition to the usual fights and hunting one might expect from a dinosaur show, we also see the more mundane daily activities of the animals (I honestly can’t remember ever seeing a dinosaur pooping or having sex before this). There are also behaviors depicted that might be surprising to some laypeople, such as in the vignette depicting a tender, close-knit T. Rex couple, with a heartbreaking scene in which the mother mourns the loss of her babies.
It’s hard to fully classify this program. You will learn things, just not in the way of traditional documentary, with someone like David Attenborough laying things out for you; you’ll be observing and drawing conclusions, like a bird watcher hiding in the brush watching his subjects. And you will have fun and be amazed, like in a feature film. If you’re up for all of this — and especially if you are a dinosaur geek like me — you will want to tune in to this groundbreaking work of art and science.
The four-hour Dinosaur Revolution airs in two parts, Sept. 4 and 11 at 9pm ET/PT, on Discovery Channel.
Credit: Discovery Channel