“Gotta love me!” What’s not to love about this cute Disney comedy featuring the most sophisticated puppetry ever created for a television show? Sure, the series has taken its share of hits for being a little too preachy. But even an old conservative like myself really can’t find much to fault in the issues tackled by Dinosaurs. There’s nothing wrong with message entertainment as long as it actually entertains. As a long time Star Trek fan I’m no stranger to morality tales. Truth be told, the issues are simplified e…ough that I don’t get what all the complaining been about. This set brings us the final two seasons of the series. An added bonus is the inclusion of a handful of episodes that never did air.
Nothing changed in the makeup of the series from the first two years, so I’ll repeat the setup I gave you for that release: Each character was a sophisticated animated puppet as well as a suit performer. In all, it took four people to bring each character to life. Combined with the familiar voice talents of the likes of Sally Struthers and Sherman Helmsley, a “man in a suit”, and 2 animatronics puppeteers, these hysteric prehistoric characters were brought remarkably to life. Like The Flintstones, Dinosaurs was modeled after the popular 50’s comedy The Honeymooners. Earl was very much a Jackie Gleason clone from his “king of my castle” attitude to his bulky frame. Like Ralph, Earl had a meek and somewhat simple minded pal. Roy was as much an Art Carney clone as Earl was Ralph Kramden. Even Roy’s voice echoed Norton. The show diverged from its Honeymooner roots with the addition of two children. Robbie was very much a rebel against the sins of his society. Charlene was the typical valley girl who cared more about the latest fashions than anything else. Fran, the mother, was a somewhat modern woman who still managed to juggle independence with traditional roles. Finally the best laughs and lines came from newly arrived Baby Sinclair. His “Not the momma” , “Again!” and “Gotta love me” chants became pop culture mainstays.
It turns out the episodes I remembered most appear on this collection. “Out of the Frying Pan” is the best episode of the series. Baby Sinclair becomes famous doing commercials for the brand of frying pan he uses to hit Earl over the head. There’s a “Cops” style video of him robbing a market that’s simply hilarious. “Hey, that watch looks pretty good. Hand it over!”. “Little Boy Blue” is a great Halloween episode where Robby tells baby the story of the Wolf Man, but in Dinosaurs fashion substituting a wereman. This episode also ends with the catchy Baby Sinclair music video “I’m The Baby. Gotta Love Me”. “The Terrible Two’s” is a great take-off on The Exorcist. Every rebellious kid who ever had to deal with their parents bashing their style of music can relate to “Swamp Music.” Finally, censorship is tackled with the controversial episode “Baby Talk”. Like the Simpsons there are plenty of adult jokes the kiddies might not get as well as playful pop culture references you have to be paying attention to get.
Each episode of Dinosaurs is presented in its original full frame broadcast ratio. These are pretty good transfers. Color is often muted, but I suspect it has more to do with the source material. The picture is sharp and definition is strong for a television sitcom. Something here I’ve noticed with a few older shows, particularly sitcoms, is a color phasing effect at times. It’s almost like a macro vision fade. While it doesn’t show up often, it does happen on select episodes including the pilot. All in all, these episodes will look every bit as good as they did years ago on your broadcast television set.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is about all I expected. Dialogue is clear, and honestly there isn’t much else here for the audio to do. The main theme is a bass heavy melody that could drive the subs much better than it does, but that’s such a minor complaint that it doesn’t really take away anything here. Luckily the dynamic range is wide enough that you won’t experience any distortion or splatter.
Again I have packaging issues. The slim box holds a foldout that contains four discs. While the overall design is fine, I must again take exception to the trend of stacking discs overlapping each other. It requires you to remove disc 1 to get to disc 2. At least they are single-sided with some rather sweet artwork on the discs.
Also the numerous hidden features return. Move your select cursor around a bit and you’ll highlight several eggs that direct you to unnamed features.
A couple of commentary tracks offer some nostalgic quality to your experience particularly listening to Brian Hensen talk about the show. It’s obvious there are some heartfelt emotions still associated with the series for him.“Creatures With Causes: The Issues Of Dinosaurs” It was always obvious, to some far too obvious, that Dinosaurs was attempting to pass along some social awareness, so this 9 minutes really only tells us what we already knew. Truthfully, they might have been better to allow the message to speak for itself.“I’m The Baby, Gotta Love Me” Is another quality look at Baby Sinclair who was the runaway star of the show. Wait till you get a look at the voice actor. Now that was a surprise!
I guess I should act my age and deny any pleasure from watching these “children’s” shows. But I’m not going to. It’s rare, for me anyway, to enjoy something so simpleminded. But I admit it. Anyway, I’m the reviewer so you “Gotta love me!”
Special Features List
- Commentary Tracks
- Creatures With A Cause Feature
- “I’m The Baby, Gotta Love Me” Feature