Build a kidvid around dinosaurs, and they will come — or that seems to be the hope of Bravo, the cultural channel that’s taking a shot at children’s programming with “Opening Shot,” an art program for kids. In its bow, skein explores kids’ fascination with dinosaurs and how Hollywood has brought the beasts to life.
In trying to lure the Nickelodeon and MTV crowd, producers Gerald Fox and Daniel Wiles dangle the words “Jurassic Park” about, using the film as a point of reference for special effects.
The episode examines the history of dinosaurs in Hollywood, from early 1900s animation to the work of Ray Harryhausen, then “Jurassic.” Somewhat amused, Harryhausen recounts his early, primitive techniques using rubber dinosaurs and stop-motion photography to bring to life movies such as “One Million Years B.C.”
Harryhausen unlocks the question pursued throughout the spec about the juvenile attraction to dinosaurs: They’re real, and knowing dinosaurs once walked on this planet makes them more special than cartoon characters.
In its opening shot, “Opening Shot” is not a juvie-only product, and in fact should be required watching for special-effects buffs, especially for the Harryhausen segments. Kids should be attracted to the skein if they can stumble across it, although the premiere isn’t geared toward them specifically.
That’s remedied in the second segment. “Tap,” a look at teenage tapping wunderkind Savion Glover, who’s teaching and inspiring a new generation of tappers through his work on “Sesame Street” and Broadway’s “Jelly’s Last Jam.”
This episode has much more of a for-kids-only feel, and upcoming topics that include a look at Marvel Comics, for instance, could create a niche for “Opening Shot.”
But dinosaurs will grab youthful attention quicker than tap dancers or other artists. “Opening Shot” may be able to captivate kids who at first would be turned off to the word “art.” Let’s hope so.