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Re: Dinosaur Revolution Review

Unfortunately, I have a more pessimistic view of "joe public" and the
strong influence these types of shows can have on him...

Sadly, "joe public" can, and often is, *that* ignorant. Just tell
anyone you meet on the street that you study dinosaurs and pay close
attention to 96.8% of the reactions (you get an "awwwww, that's
cute"-type of look). The lackadaisical treatment of science for the
sake of sensationalism and comic-book style entertainment the kids
seem to be so into these days will leave the main take away of the
show to definitely be chirping cuteness lost in a fog of Purple Haze
while performing Looney Tune antics and stupid pet tricks... Not that
these were actual, living, breathing animals that have been brought to
life using the latest scientific knowledge... and that will be the
case regardless of the age of the audience.

Compare that with BBC's "Planet Dinosaur", the first episode of which
has been uploaded by various persons to YouTube (part 1 of 2 of an HD
upload... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa0U7cvS6Ag&feature=share).
Although the animation and reconstruction work isn't the greatest, and
some of the inferred behaviors are questionable, the obvious emphasis
is on the actual science and making these animals "real" animals and
not cartoonish caricatures for the sake of entertaining grade school
intellects... "Dinosaur Revolution" has been fun to watch, and the
overall look of the animals are gorgeous, but it is very silly (and
rather irritating... infuriating even... for anyone who knows anything
about the natural world... but those sorts of folks don't make up a
large enough percentage of the demographic to be the target audience,
of course). Am I being uber critical, brash, bitter, and rather
unrealistic in my expectations? Yes, yes I am... but I had such high
hopes for "Dinosaur Revolutions"... so I just can't help myself.

Bottom line is that once again, a US-associated paleo show hyping
itself as depicting the "new" science/understanding of dinosaurs is
misleading, disappointing, and rather insulting (but not surprising).
BBC, on the other hand, has produced both an entertaining and a
scientifically-based gem (fancy that).  It may not be perfect, but it
is at least "smart" and gives an honest try at taking dinosaurs (and
in consequence, paleontologists), seriously, without sacrificing good

It'll be interesting to see how the remaining episodes play out... and
how much the narration is dumbed down and the show edited for the "joe
public/plumber" audience once it makes it to the US.


On Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 11:03 PM, Sim Koning <simkoning@msn.com> wrote:
>   I'm guess I'm glad that I more or less knew what to expect. I read Ricardo 
> Delgado's 'Age of the Reptiles' when I was a kid. So, when I read the show 
> description and saw that his name was attached to the project, I pretty much 
> expected it to be an animated version of his comic book series. Now I didn't 
> think that would be a bad thing because I loved those comics as kid. I knew 
> this wasn't going to be another 'Walking with Dinosaurs' copy cat and I 
> basically expected it to be somewhat like a cartoon, minus the talking... and 
> I'm fine with that. It helps that BBC has a 'WWD' clone coming out tomorrow 
> night; I think variety is a good thing.
>   Regarding episode 1:
>   All right, I grew a little worried when I saw the animation, then I 
> reminded myself that this is a made for tv show, not a $65 million dollar 
> Hollywood production like Jurassic Park. So, I just ignored the low points 
> and focused on (what I thought) was great model work. I've always like 
> David's Krentz's dinosaur sculptures, and have been often tempted to buy some 
> of them, so I'm quite glad he worked on this series. That being said, there 
> are some minor things that bugged me: for some reason, it seems as though 
> many paleo artists like to make the pterygoideus way too small and stiff; it 
> also seems as if many artists are afraid to go the Greg Paul route and put 
> dino fluff on all small theropods and ornithopods.
>     Regarding the pterygoideus: I watched a video of a croc dissection and 
> one of the things that was immediately apparent was just how damn big that 
> muscle really is. It's easy to miss on an intact animal, as the muscle looks 
> like part of the neck when relaxed, but it's there. many artists seem to miss 
> this detail and instead draw/sculpt/paint the jaw as if it is just skin and 
> bone. The reality is this muscle should not only flex visibly, but should 
> also jiggle with movement and deform when the head rests against the ground. 
> Surprisingly, despite its myriad of anatomical flaws, the Jurassic Park T. 
> rex actually has it, and I think the bulge it creates makes for a more 
> powerful looking jawline. David has already addressed this, so I'm not going 
> to write several pages just to complain about it.
>   The lack of protofeathers with both Ornitholestes and Eoraptor kind of 
> bugged me, but there is no proof (as far as I know) that either genera had 
> them. I am inclined to think that it is more likely that a simple, bristly 
> body covering combined with a mix of scales and scutes was common among basal 
> ornithodirans. And I have a hunch that most if not all non armored small 
> dinosaurs were at least partially fuzzy. I think it's probable that some 
> lineages lost this fuzz later on in favor of armor or greater body mass. This 
> may be why we've found titanosaur embryos and a small ceratopsian with 
> scales, while more cursorial forms such as Tianyulong and small basal 
> theropods were 'protofeathered'.
>   The anthropomorphism was a bit much in the first episode, but I was able to 
> ignore it for the most part. There were a few other behavioral issues that 
> just didn't make sense to me as well: mosasaurs are basically giant aquatic 
> monitor lizards; monitor lizards often eat their own young... so why was the 
> mamma mosasaur protecting her baby? Varanids and snakes are also mute, so I'm 
> not sure I liked hearing dolphin sounds coming from a aquatic lizard species. 
> I don't understand why the Saurosuchus threw one of the Eoraptors aside after 
> chomping down on it lightly enough to not break its skin. Was it just 
> irritated with the mushy dino love scene? I would have been okay with the 
> mosquitoes if they just drove the dinosaurs a little nuts, but showing them 
> kill an amphibian/reptile was pretty silly. Showing the male Cryolophosaurus 
> destroying the offspring of a rival seemed plausible, as it's a behavior that 
> can be seen in crocodilians, dolphins, house cats, lions, bears etc. so no 
> problem there.
> I have to say I enjoyed the 2nd episode quite a bit more than the first. The 
> animation was better and its much longer narrative and more interesting 
> characters helped. I'm looking forward to the T.rex episode, though I don't 
> know if I'll get to see it since I don't have Discovery Science...
>  "It's not that these soft parts or behaviors are impossible, but Joe 
> Public's only going to remember Gigantoraptor as "that goofy rainbow-colored 
> thing that dances" or Eoraptor as "those raptors that cutely chirp and build 
> mounds to select mates, and then care for their baby who adorably falls down, 
> awwww".  So you're emphasizing the fictional aspects of these animals, while 
> not going into any of the actual known interesting facts about them."
>     I don't think "Joe Public" is *that* ignorant. I'm willing to bet that 
> most older children and adults are aware that it's just a show and that it's 
> mostly guesswork. The point of a show like this is not to be a lecture on 
> dinosaur anatomy, it's supposed to be a semi fictional depiction of dinosaur 
> life. I think all us dinosaur enthusiasts have conjured up similar images in 
> our minds eye at one point or another as we try to guess at what these 
> creatures were like when they were alive. Sadly, outside of our mind's eye, 
> CGI is all we're going to get unless someone invents a time machine in the 
> near future. I suppose someone could do a hyper accurate dinosaur show of 
> this nature, and use only what we *know*. Think about it, the audience would 
> get to see some awesome anatomical images and maybe, if we have a mostly 
> complete specimen, they could be shown a black and white, silent, cg models 
> spinning on a turn table... for an hour. It would be pure awesome! I would 
> watch it of course... just not sure how much money it would make the 
> Discovery Channel ; ).
> Sim Koning
>> Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2011 04:23:00 -0700
>> From: mickey_mortimer111@msn.com
>> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
>> Subject: Dinosaur Revolution Review
>> I decided to review the show on my blog.  Read more at 
>> http://theropoddatabase.blogspot.com/2011/09/dinosaur-revolution-review.html 
>> if you enjoy scathing criticism and snarky comments.
>> Mickey Mortimer