[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: Dinosaur Revolution Review

On Sat, September 17, 2011 2:08 pm, Jura wrote:
>> From: Sim Koning <simkoning@msn.com>
>>   This show was meant to be a form of lighthearted  xenofiction, not a
>> David
>> Attenborough ducumentary.  For that you have 'Planet Dinosaur'... well
>> sort of. I mean it's almost like complaining that 'Bambi' was a
>> horrible movie because its portrayal of North American wildlife wasn't
>> accurate , and so it's misinforming people all over about white tailed
>> dear.
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> The biggest failing of this show is that it was retrofit to try and
> straddle both sides of education and entertainment. As pure entertainment,
> Dinosaur Revolution is okay, but the fact is that it has being billed as
> yet another "documentary" showing the world what we currently know about
> dinosaurs.

In this you have to remember that the production team (the producers,
directors, artists, animators, editors, etc.) are essentially independent
of the network. The network pays for a product, turns the production team
loose on something, and then at the end game the network takes up the
marketing, release schedule, and so forth. So the folks who make the shows
have very, very little input on how the network portrays it.

> This forces the show to live up to a higher standard than it
> does; which warrants the scathing criticisms that it has received. The
> original plan for the show was to not even have narration. The scientists
> that were seen during the interstitials, were brought in at the 11th hour,
> which is why the majority of the "talking heads" bits are just
> paleontologists talking about why they like dinosaurs, rather than
> anything specific.

There is hours more footage of talking material than shown; whether any of
it shows up on the DVD or not remains to be seen. Additional, some of the
"Science of Reign of the Dinosaurs" sequences were filmed; don't know
when/where such things will show up, if ever.

(Some of the interviews even concerned stories that did not make it into
the final cut.)

> The scary thing is going to be seeing how a show like this will fare. If
> it does well then it could signal the downfall of any real scientific
> input.

Some professional insight here:

1) The networks will fund things like this if and only if the amount of
incoming funds exceeds the amount they put into it. They are businesses
first and foremost.

2) Having professionals associated with a production is considered a
selling point to the network.

> Given how controversial these documentaries have been over the
> years, it's hard to say whether, or not, that will be a good thing.

Controversial to whom? Guys, face it: any noise you hear (or make) on
blogsites, fora, listserves, etc. means diddly-squat to multi-million
dollar networks. (The ONLY case I know of where blog-commentary got a
response from the networks was the hatchet job on Matt Wedel's comments on
"Clash of the Dinosaurs.") If the concerns of the educated/enthusiast
public were that important, than do you think Discovery and History and so
forth would be airing all the damn UFO/ancient astronauts/reelio-trulio
Bible stories/cryptozoo dreck that they do?

Again: the networks are businesses. Their concern is ratings (and
ultimately, money).

If DR or PD or the other ones on the way take in a significant more than
they cost, you'll see more of them. If they don't, it will be a few years
before you have an entire new executive board in all the networks who
suddenly think they are being original in calling for a project like this.

(For those who aren't aware: TV network management has a phenomenal
turnover rate. When the 10 year anniversary version of Walking with
DInosaurs was released, not ONE of the Discovery Channel people I worked
with was aware that the version released in the US was not the one they
had on DVD, but in fact included talking heads sequences during the
bumpers to commercials and had a different narrator. And Discovery Channel
doesn't even have copies of this version in their library...)

> It
> certainly won't fare well for grant proposals since these "documentaries"
> -- despite their quality -- make for great examples of scientific
> outreach/broader impacts.
Here's the flip side: no, they don't. At least, not big diffuse projects
like this. Granting agencies require that broader impact projects are
very, very closely tied into the particular project at hand. A documentary
associated with a particular dig site or a particular analysis would count
towards "Broader Impact"; a general one like DinoDIno Revolution or Planet
Dino or the like would not.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
Fax: 301-314-9661

Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program, College Park Scholars
Fax: 301-314-9843

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA