It’s been virtually 4 years since I had the intense concept to overview the Eyewitness Dinosaur video, a factual brief movie that was a treasured childhood possession (and one thing I’ve truly managed to carry onto, which I’m glad about even when it’s on a very out of date format and the movie is now available on-line. So there). Within the interim, I’ve been made conscious of one other kid-friendly dino-factual VHS that emerged from the UK over a decade prior – in 1982. It, too, was apparently a treasured childhood possession for a lot of, with numerous YouTube commenters expressing variations on the theme of “THIS WAS MY LIFE!”. So, what’s the fuss all about? Let’s discover out. Oh boy.
All the photographs right here come from an add on YouTube by DinosaurTheatre.
Dinosaurs: Enjoyable, Reality and Fantasy is a merry, musical romp via dinosaur palaeontology, incorporating what they have been, when and the place they lived, completely different dinosaur teams, the connection between people and dinosaurs, and a quiz present by which glove puppets of Lesothosaurus, Diplodocus, Tyrannosaurus and a Welsh dragon reply questions posed by a googly-eyed puppet crocodile, whereas a silent Pteranodon retains shut watch. You understand, the same old form of factor. The complete affair is hosted by an unseen, anonymous narrator and mentioned crocodile, whose identify is Dil and has a voice offered by Derek Griffiths. In case you’re British, you’ll definitely recognise him; Griffiths has appeared in quite a few British youngsters’ TV reveals through the years, together with Nineteen Eighties collection of Look and Learn that have been nonetheless being repeated to us in class within the ’90s. However I digress.
I shan’t beat in regards to the bush, right here – I discover Dil reasonably annoying. In actual fact, I’d go so far as to say that I discover him very annoying, however that’s merely a product of his child-friendly, overbearingly enthusiastic nature. I suppose it’s fairly spectacular that they managed to present a reasonably primary, perma-grinning puppet fairly a lot grating character. In addition to interacting with the off-screen narrator, Dil sings the movie’s many songs (for Griffiths is a singer in addition to an actor). These embrace a recurring quantity that all the time begins with Dil singing the next:
“Now listed below are some very unusual dinosaur names,
Attempt to say them out loud, after which say them once more!
Diplodocus, Vulcanodon and Plat-e-osaurus,
Iguanodon, Deinonychus and Tyranno-SAUR-us!
Triceratops, See-loh-fi-sees and Hy[deep inhalation]psilophodon!
Torosaurus, Stegosaurus, that’s about sufficient of ’em!”
That is adopted by the narrator rattling off an inventory of dinosaurs belonging to whichever clade is beneath dialogue – be they sauropods (or “the plodders”), “fowl footed dinosaurs”, “meat eaters” and many others. It stroke a chord in my memory of songs on a cassette I had as a child, which got here from the Early Studying Centre, a series of retailers stocked with edumacational toys geared toward young children (together with Carnegie dinosaur figures, most notably); the method of itemizing sophisticated names over a catchy beat is a actually efficient strategy to get youngsters to be taught stuff. I nonetheless bear in mind the songs (and names) on that tape. (Oh pricey, future weblog put up within the making, that one…)
The odd pronunciation of ‘Coelophysis‘ right here can simply be excused as simply making the phrase match the track, however I did discover extra peculiar pronunciations scattered all through the movie. Particularly, the rendering of Iguanodon as “Ig-yoo-wah-no-don” actually caught out to me. I’m positive I used to listen to ‘iguana’ pronounced as ‘ig-yoo-wah-na’ very often again within the ’90s, however ‘ig-wah-na’ appears to be the usual as of late. Fairly probably, it’s an especially parochial British factor. (For what it’s value, I definitely pronounce it ‘ig-wah-no-don’.)
In any case, many of the songs are well-written however very a lot child-friendly affairs, beautifully designed to Train Issues to Youngsters. Nevertheless, I did actually take pleasure in a quantity close to the top that was sung from the attitude of assorted non-dinosaurs, who have been fairly eager on extolling the superiority of not being dinosaurs. It’s effectively written, refreshing in not diminishing the animals as a result of they’re not dinosaurs, and encompasses a intentionally crude stop-motion animation of assorted very cheap-looking rubbery dinosaur toys that I loved very a lot.
By way of, , the precise science, it’s a lot as you’d anticipate for the time. The potential of a dinosaur-bird hyperlink is talked about, however downplayed, with birds’ numerous dinosaurian options written off as “coincidental” (for they really emerged from a standard thecodont ancestor, you see! YOU SEE!?!). Tyrannosaurus is talked about as being a scary beast, but additionally gradual and due to this fact most likely principally a scavenger. Dinosaurs’ tiny brains are talked about, however not such an enormous deal is made from it as would have been 20 years prior. And so forth.
However nobody as we speak is watching this for the science – it’ll be for any glimpse of shonky stop-motion, clips of previous films, and pictures of previous dinosaur displays. Naturally, Enjoyable, Reality and Fantasy supplies loads of all of these. Proper from the beginning, we’re handled to a plasticine theropod (that appears like a brand new, terrifying type of Morph, and in addition like a Neave Parkerish Megalosaurus) searching Iguanodon, and whereas it’d look reasonably dodgy as we speak, I can think about youngsters within the Nineteen Eighties being enthralled by it. Even within the ’90s, there was nonetheless so little naturalistic dinosaur animation on the market (versus previous films by which they menaced people) that I ate up every thing I might discover.
After all, there are (as I discussed) loads of previous film clips right here too, in addition to treasured insights into what sure establishments appeared like prior to now. Particularly, there are numerous pictures of previous gallery layouts in London’s Pure Historical past Museum, highlighting simply how a lot you could possibly truly see again then, earlier than the ’90s hit and every thing needed to be darkish and edgy and funky and XTREME. Bah.
Oh, and there may be in fact a phase by which actors dressed as Gideon Mantell and Mary Ann Mantell occur upon the Iguanodon tooth, after which ponder over what they’ve discovered. This naturally features a track that repeats a couple of times too typically.
For what it’s value, I reasonably loved this curious little artefact, despite Dil’s irritating nature, the child-friendly repetitive songs, and the truth that by the point I’d reached the aforementioned quiz phase I used to be fairly satisfied that I’d misplaced my bloody thoughts. I can see why persons are so keen on it; despite the fact that 1992 was virtually over after I turned 5 years previous, I can effectively see myself having fun with it then.
That jogs my memory – isn’t it the thirtieth anniversary of one thing or different this yr? Ought to I hassle writing something about that? Is there something left to be mentioned? Let me know when you like. So, uh, there it’s.