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Dinosaurs Seasons 1-2 DVD


Greg James (May 9, 2006) - I first saw Dinosaurs back when it premiered in the spring of 1991 on ABC. The show featured an edgy satire of human life, plus it had the most technically ambitious and groundbreaking effects I had ever seen on television. The show was thematically familiar yet like nothing I had ever seen before. Needless to say, I enjoyed it. I was excited when I heard the show was finally getting a DVD release. It had been almost a decade since I last watched an episode of the show, and I couldn't wait to see my pals in the Sinclair family again.

Over 15 years have passed since the show premiered and the episodes are still as entertaining and relevant as ever (if not more so). The wit and poignant satire alongside the great characters and technical innovations makes this show an enjoyable treat to watch – regardless of your age.

"Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons" 4-disc DVD set brings 29 episodes (over 11-hours) of prehistoric comedy, plus an admirable selection of bonus features.

OVERALL PRESENTATION

All twenty-nine episodes appear here, in order, uncut (running around 23 minutes a piece) in their original broadcast form. The video looks fairly crisp and clear - they are much better looking than the original TV broadcasts and far excel any of the old VHS releases. "Dinosaurs" is presented in its original 1.33:1 fullscreen (however the menus are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen). The audio is nicely presented in a Dolby Surround track and each episode also has an English subtitle track for the hearing impaired. Disc 1 holds the five episodes of season 1 plus the two main featurettes, and discs 2-4 hold all of the season 2 episodes.

The main menu on the discs takes viewers through a computer-animated cave featuring a cave-painting of different characters by a crackling fire while the upbeat second half of the theme song plays. When you select "Play All" a giant animated Dinosaur egg comes down and shatters open to transition the menu. The submenus feature the more dramatic first half of the theme song along with handsome still-picture backgrounds.

Each episode is divided into chapter stops at each act break (where the commercials would be) and there is a chapter placed after the opening theme of each episode and before the end credits.

I was touched to see that the first episode retained the original memorial tribute to Jim Henson at its beginning. Jim passed away less than a year before the show debuted. Not only was the show one of the Henson Company's first major projects after Jim's passing, but the idea for the show was conceived by Jim.

Several previews for other Disney DVDs play at the start of disc 1 including "The Muppet Show - Season 1", "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" and the Kermit's 50th Anniversary movie reissues.

BONUS FEATURES

By looking at the back of the box you'll see three bonus features listed. To some DVD aficionados that isn't exactly an overabundance for a 4-disc set, but what they may lack in quantity, they make up in quality. These features are all great and have an accumulated runtime of around 25-minutes of new material. Both of the feautrettes are located on disc 1 and "Dino-eggs" are spaced throughout all four discs.

I wish that there could have been audio commentary track or two on each disc. There is so much to say about this show and the episodes - both technically and creatively. This show was made for commentaries, and just a few special audio tracks could have been a great addition to the sets that would allow the cast/crew to share some of that great information in a fitting forum. I would love to see more interviews, behind the scenes information, show promos and, of course, the "I'm the baby (gotta love me)" music video on the future season sets -- oh, and even more hidden Dino-eggs too.

Pre-Hysterical Times: The Making Of Dinosaurs (runtime 13:25)
The first bonus feature is an all new behind the scenes featurette on the show. This documentary runs just over 13-minutes and is packed with information, interviews, and cool behind the scenes pictures and footage. The featurette gives a look at the genesis of the show and how Jim Henson's Creaure Shop brought the dinosaurs to life. Interviewees include: Brian Henson, Bob Young, Michael Jacobs, Kirk Thatcher, Bill Barretta, Allan Trautman, Peter Brooke, and John Criswell. This is a great little documentary, however I personally would have enjoyed at least another 10 -15 minutes (making it the length of an episode or longer). It would have also been nice to hear from Kevin Clash (Baby Sinclair) and Stuart Pankin (the voice of Earl Sinclair) as well. However what is here is great – I'll admit I've already re-watched it a few times.

Creating Dinosaurs: The Sketches That Started It All (runtime 4:00)
This all new featurette features character designer Kirk Thatcher showing his original designs for the Sinclair family and talking about their evolution and characteristics. This is a nice little feature, however some of Kirk's story's double-dip into information for the "Pre-Hysterical Times" feature. It's fun to watch, and even more fun to imagine the reptiles with giant wigs.

Dino-Eggs (total runtime 8:05)
Dino-Eggs is a series of hidden DVD "Easter eggs" scattered throughout the set. They range from ten seconds to two-and-a-half minutes long. Each special bonus clip features reveals trivia facts, behind the scenes insights, archival promotional material or just interviewees having fun. I love DVD Easter eggs, and this set holds one of the best executed uses of the concept. The eggs are not impossible to find nor are they difficult to access; they are evenly distributed; and each hidden clips is interesting and worth the time spent to uncover it. There are ten eggs hidden across the four discs. For those having difficulty finding the eggs, here is a list of how to uncover them.

Disc 1 Dino-Eggs

1. On the main menu select the highlighted egg "O" in the Dinosaurs logo (the cursor’s default start position) to see a brief introduction to Dino-Eggs by Brian Henson. (0:20)

2. On the main menu highlight "Bonus Features" and press left to reveal the hidden egg. Press enter to play a clip with Bill Barretta talking about what it was like to be inside Earl Sinclair. (2:22)

3. On the bonus features menu highlight "Creating Dinosaurs: The Sketches That Started It All" and press left to reveal the hidden egg, Press enter to play a short clip where Michael Jacobs points out something special about the character's names. (0:40)

Disc 2 Dino-Eggs

1. On the episode selection menu, highlight episode 5 (Endangered Species) and press down to reveal the hidden egg. Press enter to play a clip of Bill Barretta and Allan Trautman chatting about Automatronincs. (0:23)
2. On the set-up menu highlight "Main Menu" and press right to reveal the hidden egg. Press enter to play an "Ask Earl" archive clip that asks "What's your favorite kind of dinosaur?" (0:25)

Disc 3 Dino-Eggs

1. On the main menu highlight "Set-Up" and press down to reveal the hidden egg. Press enter to play an "Ask Earl" archive clip that asks "What's the message behind 'Dinosaurs'?" (0:20)

2. On the episode selection, highlight episode 12 (Refrigerator Day) and press down to reveal the hidden egg. Press enter to see Bill Barretta with the Baby Sinclair puppet as Bill explains how the puppet works. (1:48)

3. On the set-up menu highlight "Main Menu" and press left to reveal the hidden egg. Press enter to see a clip of Bill Barretta and Allan Trautman joking around about the hidden Dino-Eggs. (0:15)

Disc 4 Dino-Eggs

1. On the episode selection, highlight either episode 21 (And the Winner Is...) or episode 22 (Slave to Fashion) and press up to reveal the hidden egg. Press enter to see Peter Brooke talk about the dinosuars' middle names. (0:10)

2. On the set-up menu highlight "English for the Hearing Impaired" and press left to reveal the hidden egg. Press enter to see Bill Barretta share some behind-the-scenes photos for his personal album. (1:22)

Order Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons.

PACKAGING

The packaging of this box set is nice. The box sports a close-up of Earl holding an egg with Baby Sinclair peaking out. Rather than the more traditional packaging, where the Digipak slides out the side of the outer cardboard sleeve, the top third of the "egg" opens reveling Baby Sinclair popping-out of the egg, and the Digipak slides out of the top of the outer sleeve.

There are no booklets or inserts in the case, but the inner Digipak features the disc-by-disc episode/feature listing along with a note from Brian Henson, Michael Jacobs and Bob Young. Each disc features a member of the Sinclair Family on it (Baby, Fran, Robbie, and Earl). I’m not a fan of the disc arrangement inside the Digipak. Similar to "The Muppet Show – Season 1", the discs overlap each other meaning that sometimes you have to remove two discs in order to get to the one you want.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Dinosaurs was, and still is, a genuinely funny and original show. The show appeals to both adults and kids simultaneously. The first two seasons in particular are true Henson gold, and probably include some of the best episodes of the series. Any Dinosaurs, Henson or just 90s sitcom fans will love this set. This great set and its 29 episodes will be a highlight of any DVD collection. I can only hope that we see seasons three and four get similar DVD treatments real soon.

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