Enjoyable, Reality and Fantasy – Love within the Time of Chasmosaurs
It’s been virtually 4 years since I had the brilliant concept to evaluation the Eyewitness Dinosaur video, a factual quick movie that was a treasured childhood possession (and one thing I’ve truly managed to carry onto, which I’m pleased about even when it’s on a very out of date format and the movie is now available on-line.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 varied 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 pictures 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 had been, when and the place they lived, totally 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 kind of factor. The whole affair is hosted by an unseen, anonymous narrator and stated crocodile, whose title is Dil and has a voice offered by Derek Griffiths. When you’re British, you’ll definitely recognise him; Griffiths has appeared in quite a few British youngsters’ TV reveals over time, together with Eighties sequence of Look and Learn that had been nonetheless being repeated to us at school within the ’90s. However I digress.
I shan’t beat concerning the bush, right here – I discover Dil moderately annoying. In reality, 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 provide a moderately primary, perma-grinning puppet fairly a lot grating persona. 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 embody a recurring quantity that at all times begins with Dil singing the next:
“Now listed here 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 so on. It rang a bell in my memory of songs on a cassette I had as a child, which got here from the Early Studying Centre, a sequence of outlets stocked with edumacational toys geared toward babies (together with Carnegie dinosaur figures, most notably); the strategy of itemizing sophisticated names over a catchy beat is a actually efficient method to get youngsters to be taught stuff. I nonetheless bear in mind the songs (and names) on that tape. (Oh pricey, future weblog publish 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 today. Fairly presumably, 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 Educate Issues to Kids. Nevertheless, I did actually take pleasure in a quantity close to the tip that was sung from the angle of assorted non-dinosaurs, who had 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 contains a intentionally crude stop-motion animation of assorted very cheap-looking rubbery dinosaur toys that I loved very a lot.
When it comes to, you realize, the precise science, it’s a lot as you’d anticipate for the time. The potential for a dinosaur-bird hyperlink is talked about, however downplayed, with birds’ varied 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 in addition gradual and due to this fact most likely principally a scavenger. Dinosaurs’ tiny brains are talked about, however not such an enormous deal is fabricated from it as would have been 20 years prior. And so forth.
However nobody in the present day is watching this for the science – it’ll be for any glimpse of shonky stop-motion, clips of previous motion pictures, and pictures of previous dinosaur reveals. 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 likewise like a Neave Parkerish Megalosaurus) looking Iguanodon, and whereas it would look moderately dodgy in the present day, I can think about youngsters within the Eighties being enthralled by it. Even within the ’90s, there was nonetheless so little naturalistic dinosaur animation on the market (versus previous motion pictures by which they menaced people) that I ate up every little 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 regarded like previously. Particularly, there are numerous photographs of previous gallery layouts in London’s Pure Historical past Museum, highlighting simply how a lot you may truly see again then, earlier than the ’90s hit and every little thing needed to be darkish and edgy and funky and XTREME. Bah.
Oh, and there may be in fact a section by which actors dressed as Gideon Mantell and Mary Ann Mantell occur upon the Iguanodon enamel, after which ponder over what they’ve discovered. This naturally features a track that repeats a couple of times too usually.
For what it’s value, I moderately loved this curious little artefact, regardless of Dil’s irritating nature, the child-friendly repetitive songs, and the truth that by the point I’d reached the aforementioned quiz section I used to be fairly satisfied that I’d misplaced my bloody thoughts. I can see why individuals are so keen on it; although 1992 was virtually over once 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 12 months? Ought to I hassle writing something about that? Is there something left to be stated? Let me know in the event you like. So, uh, there it’s.