The Dinosaurs!

NEW YORK--Dinosaur lovers everywhere should delight in this four-part series that endeavors to reveal the true nature of those ancient creatures that ruled the earth for more than 130 million years.

With:
Narrator: Barbara Feldon.

NEW YORK–Dinosaur lovers everywhere should delight in this four-part series that endeavors to reveal the true nature of those ancient creatures that ruled the earth for more than 130 million years.

Nobody can accuse this scholarly but entertaining series of offering the bare bones of dinosaur evolution — every imaginable aspect of the subject is tackled , often in enjoyable and creative ways.

Using clever animation and computer-generated graphics, the docu, narrated by Barbara Feldon, illustrates scientists’ concepts of how these creatures looked and moved.

In fact, the best sequence of the first two installments shows a paleontologist and animator David Alexovich visiting the giant skeletons of various dino-types in a museum–with the “monsters” spontaneously coming to life via animation to illustrate the scientist’s points about the creatures’ movements and behavior.

If the effect is sometimes reminiscent of a sophisticated Saturday morning cartoon–complete with the appropriate sound effects– the technique does provide a respite from the more studious, scientific segments featuring a slew of experts. And it should help make this attractively filmed program more accessible to younger viewers.

Archival footage of early discoveries and dramatizations with actors to make historical points also are cleverly cut in with clips of today’s intrepid paleontologists meticulously prospecting for new finds in the field.

The program shows how this new generation of scientists is building on the theories of their predecessors, correcting misconceptions and bringing viewers up to date on new concepts and ideas.

Dinos, for example, were not the lumbering, pea-brained beasts depicted in old murals and museum displays, some say, but efficient killers that could run up to 35 mph.

Other experts wax poetic about evidence showing that all living birds hail directly from flying dinos. Still others of these modern Sherlock Holmeses make tracks to picturesque desert and lake front locations to unearth stretches of dino footprints–which they use to deduce how dinos spent their day.

The Dinosaurs!

(PBS, Sun.-Wed. (22-25), 8-9 p.m.)

Production: A presentation of WHYY Philadelphia. Exec producer, David Othmer; supervising producer, Karen Thomas; series producer, (Part 1) Robin Datca, (Part 2-4) Robin Bates; producer/director/writer, (Part 1) Kathy White, (part 2) White, Trudi Brown, (Part 3, 4), Bates.

Crew: Camera, Peter Hoving; editor, (Part 1, 3) Sharon Mullally, (Part 2, 4) Bill Lattanzi, Valerie Keller; sound, Barbara Flyntz-Bradley; animation director, David Alexovich.

Cast: Narrator: Barbara Feldon.

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