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Re: What do you hate about dino-docs?

Following on David's astute observations, I've long wished for a screen adaptation of Bakker's Raptor Red, which adhered to the opposing desires theme while (in my opinion admirably) walking a fine line between anthropomorphization and delivering up believable dinosaurs to which most anyone can relate. Perhaps not enough there for a feature-film, but I at least thought it would make a good hour-long TV special.

My perspective is no doubt closer to a lay person's that a scientist's, but I personally don't hate anything about dino-docs. I buy 'em all, I watch 'em all, I marvel at the technology and how far it's come, and I occasionally have fun saying, "ouch, man did they get that wrong." No one likes to see erroneous information propagated, but at the same time, I believe that the worst of them does more good than harm. Dinosaurs are still the greatest hook in the world in terms of drawing young minds toward science.

Bet I'm not alone in having owned children's books that tossed Dimetrodon and Pteranodon in the dinosaur bucket; even as a kid, it didn't take me that long to get my facts straight.

Rob Taylor

----- Original Message ----- From: "David Krentz" <ddkrentz@charter.net>
To: <quailspg@frii.com>; "Dinosaur List" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 2:19 AM
Subject: Re: What do you hate about dino-docs?

Thinking about anthropamorphization...ow, that hurt to type...and also being in the business of storytelling, I think the central problem is that a good character must have two opposing desires. That is, in a Syd Fields and Robert McCee sense, an unconscious desire and a conscious desire: A Want and a Need. In "The Bear" it seemed he WANTED a family but NEEDED to rely on himself for survival. A classic coming of age tale. Often, when dino docs feel forced is when the dinosaur has a moment of decision and is torn between its instincts and its (well...our guilt ridden and fearful) reasonable thoughts.
Prehistoric Planet had some great story telling, but was also the most humanized doc of them all.

Once again, no real questions here, just observations.

David Krentz

On Nov 13, 2007, at 10:40 PM, Donna Braginetz wrote:

David Krentz wrote:

  I'm curious about how many of you feel about the anthropamorphism
of dinosaurs.  That is, turning them into characters who are  seemingly
involved in a three act story structure, often with human motives.

I can see where an actual story line, as opposed to a recitation of facts, is
useful in a program, especially for a lay audience. I personally find it a
little too cutesy, but then I'm not exactly an average viewer. Perhaps
anthropomorphized animals and a story line have become old hat. Maybe it's
time for something completely different. Listers, your ideas...?

[Handing off to myself and running in the general direction of the goal
line...] Speaking of "something completely different," what if a paleo program
was a comedy?* Maybe sketch comedy? Maybe CGI itself has already become old
hat -- so perhaps other types of animation could be thrown in for "visual
texture." If the goal is to teach a concept or even a factoid, even a couple
sock puppets could do the job, providing the script was well written. Maybe a
Geico caveman could host. (Okay, scratch that last idea.)

-- Donna Braginetz

-- but that was just not his best work.)