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Re: BBC Planet Dinosaur

Well, I think we were all pleasantly surprised (in general).
Although the animation is not as sophisticated as Walking With Dinosaurs, it does NOT pretend a David Attenborough documentary ands it does not have as many mistakes. Everything is backed up with the latest discoveries and current thought and the detailed fossil close- ups accompany every bit of the way during the animations. We finally hear the words "probably" or "maybe" and paradoxically it is also a lot less speculative than Walking With Dinosaurs. I found the newest Liaoning chapter with its hilarious monkey-like Epidexipteryx starring in the incessant battle with alternate predators that included Microraptor, Sinornithosaurus a bit predictable but charming...Anatomically speaking I still find that the hips and some heads of dinosaurs in general are too broad and some of the feathering could have been done better. The dinosaurs are over the top some times but never boring or unbelievable... so far with some of the best reconstructions ever seen on TV... of course watching this makes you forget about "Jurassic Fight Club" and the Discovery or National Geographic channels in general rather easily...
Probably the best dinosaur series to date.

We have been having a feast that immediately jumped from BBC1 to BBC4 (continues next week)... Planet Dinosaur is segued with a series of historic and paleontological specials... first one was a bit on the boring side (a bit of inaccurate mystification on the historical view of dinosaurs in general) but I was also pleasantly surprised with the great "How To Build A Dinosaur" last night... Watching Luis Chiappe and his dedicated involvement in the construction of the new dinosaur hall at the NHM in LA makes you feel the "pain" and patience involved in the slow process that is part of being a true paleontologist. Darren Naish and John Hutchinson were also part of the program and the commentator was the charming Dr. Alice Roberts, an engaging and unassuming presence. On a side note, inadvertently I participated in the program (When the BBC contacted me about one of my illustrations I did not now where it was going... even if they predictably wanted me to tone down the color!), and I have to say that despite everything I was rather happy to see me there!


On 23 Sep 2011, at 08:43, darkin wrote:

I'm a bit suprised not to have heard more about the BBCs Planet Dinosaur on the list. There have been a lot of complaints about the way that paleontology is covered in the media - particularly TV documnentaries - and it seems to me that this series adresses those complaints very well. They seem pretty careful to make sure the narration is clear about what's supported and what isn't, and every event seems to be backed up by a fossil example.

What's more, they're doing it through on screen info graphics in a way that doesn't make the show difficult for the layman, or fill it with talking heads.

There are a few problems with it, I think - the pristine dinosaur skins give it a slightly artificial look, and the show sometimes comes across as a list of facts rather than a story, but I for one think it's a breath of fresh air to see a series that doesn't run away from telling you stuff you don't know, and doesn't keep repeating its central points over and over again.

if you haven't seen it, here's a youtube link to half an episode:

I'd be interested to hear what people here who have suggested scientists should avoid the media make of the show...

Christian Darkin

Luis Rey

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