I know I have mentioned it before, but I have a pretty major fear of dinosaurs (yes, you read that right). I vividly remember nightmares I had as a child where I would open my bedroom blinds only to discover an enormous eye looking in at me. And that eye belonged to none other than a T-Rex. Eeek! I also was anti-straight door knobs and pro- round knobs—everyone knows that raptors can’t grip the globe-shaped handles. Sure, I spent a little too much time reading up on whether it is best to stay perfectly still or run when confronted by a dinosaur; but we will see who is laughing when the dinosaurs organize and prepare their assault on society. Not so crazy now, is it? (She says as she puts on her tin foil hat).
Part of my rigorous mental training for the upcoming dino-pocalypse includes intense research. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that I recently watched the famous Walking with Dinosaurs series from the BBC. Walking with Dinosaurs is narrated by Kenneth Branagh and provides glimpses into the different eras where massive lizards (or is it birds now?) reigned supreme. The show employs detailed visual effects (which were quite cutting edge at the time) to provide the viewer with a window to the past.
While the series did not allow me much more insight on how to combat the giant beasts , I found the information to be interesting (both the facts and the delivery thereof). Employing a technique commonly used in nature documentaries, the show highlighted a family of creatures and related their story. While corny at times, it can allow the audience to relate to the animals, and engage viewers in a way that may have been more difficult had the episodes dealt in generalities.
There were moments in Walking with Dinosaurs where I was truly amazed by the artistry and the attention to detail that was put into the effects. Some of the dinosaurs’ skin looked phenomenal and real. Several scenes seamlessly integrated the virtual creatures into a “real” environment. Other times, however, the show seemed technologically dated. A few of the animals moved like the battery-operated toys that roam the floors of many a mall toy store. And other creatures just looked….odd. I am not sure if this was a design choice or based in science, but it was strange.
Although I found this to be a solid documentary series (and ground-breaking for its time), I would have liked for it to discuss the science of how researchers know what they know about dinosaurs. For example, how do we know what their scales looked like? Or, were they just pulling my chain when they told me that a certain type of food gives the dinos gas (trust me, that was a bit disturbing for me, too)? I would have loved it if they spent at least part of an episode talking about the methods paleontologists use to decipher these ancient mysteries (my guess is the butler in the pantry with the candlestick).
All in all, Walking with Dinosaurs was a decent series, albeit a little dated. Although I wasn’t as blown away as I thought I would be, I can certainly see how this was an amazing piece of work in its time.
Rarr !Hmm, well, do dinosaurs “rarr”? Let’s say they do.
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