Dinosaurs Seasons 3-4 DVD
This 4-disc set brings over 12-hours of prehistoric comedy along with a very fitting and informative selection of bonus features.
During the third and fourth seasons, Dinosaurs' overall quality only got better. From writing and production to character development and comedy, the final seasons include some of the best Dinosaurs episodes. The show dives into social, political and environmental commentary with its subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) use of satire. Dinosaurs is a show that uses the art of puppetry to disguise the issues of the day in comedy. Surprisingly, after 15-years, these stories and messages are as relevant as they were in the early 1990s. The show is genuinely entertaining and funny, with great characters and stories. The series features top-notch puppetry and visual effects.
Consumers may notice that the episodes on disc 4 are labeled as "bonus episodes". This is because 7 episodes produced during the fourth season of Dinosaurs did not air on ABC. However these episodes were included in the series' syndication package and aired on television when Dinosaurs was rerun on other networks. Since the DVDs present the episodes in original broadcast order, if you want to experience the full effect of the series' chronology watch these episodes before viewing the final episode "Changing Nature" on disc 3.
All the episodes appear uncut (running around 23 minutes a piece). The video looks fairly crisp and clear - there are some minor compression issues due to jamming of up to 10 episodes onto a single disc. It's not really distracting or annoying, but perfectionists will be able to find some blemishes in the quality if they go looking for it.
Dinosaurs is presented in its original 1.33:1 full screen format (however the menus are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen). The audio is presented in a Dolby Surround track. Everything on the discs has an English subtitle track for the hearing impaired including all bonus features. Each episode is divided into chapter stops where the commercials would be.
The main menus on the discs are very similar to those seen on the first set. Several previews for other Disney DVDs play at the start of disc 1 including one for the highly anticipated "The Muppet Show Season 2". The preview of The Muppet Show Season 2 cover art is significantly different than what Disney included in their press release.
The set features a decent collection of bonus features and other goodies to keep fans happy with an accumulated runtime around 65 minutes. Although the promotional material lists the "I'm the Baby (Gotta Love Me)" music video as a bonus feature, it is not showcased as such on the set. Instead the music video is included in its original broadcast placement – located at the conclusion of the third season episode "Little Boy Boo".
Audio Commentaries - One of my wishes was for commentary tracks on the future Dinosaurs DVDs. This set made my wish a reality as there are two outstanding commentary tracks with some of the key players behind the series. Commentators are Brian Henson (producer/performer/director), Kirk Thatcher (designer/writer), Kevin Clash (performer of Baby Sinclair) and Bill Barretta (body performer of Earl Sinclair). The commentaries are featured on "Nature Calls" (the first episode on disc 1) and "Into the Woods" (the first episode on disc 4). There is so much to say about this show and the episodes - both technically and creatively – and these commentators don't disappoint. My only real complaint about the commentaries is that there are only two. I hope future Henson DVDs contain commentaries tracks like these.
"Creatures with a Cause: The Issues of Dinosaurs" - This ten minute featurette focuses on creating the intricate layers of satire and humor found in the show. The cast and crew discuss how they were able to create a show that could tackle issues such as drug use, environmentalism and racism while still balancing humor and wackiness. They also talk about the ending of the series and how they decided to construct the memorable last episode. Interviewees include Bob Young (creator/producer/writer), Brian Henson (producer/performer/director), Kirk Thatcher (designer/writer) and Kevin Clash (performer of Baby Sinclair).
"I'm the Baby, Gotta Love Me!!" - This six-minute featurette takes a detailed look at the character Baby Sinclair. The baby is without a doubt the breakthrough character of the series. This great little featurette talks about developing, creating and performing the character while the cast also discusses the Baby's personality along with sharing their thoughts about what made the character so appealing, loveable and memorable. I wish they had made similar mini-documentaries for some of the other characters (such as Earl).
Dino-Eggs (total runtime 3:38) - If you have the first Dinosaurs DVD set you probably are already familiar with the Dino-Egg concept. Dino-Eggs are a series of hidden DVD "Easter eggs" scattered throughout the set. Each special bonus clip reveals fun trivia facts, behind the scenes insights and archival promotional material. For those having difficulty finding the eggs, here is a list of how to uncover them:
The packaging of this box set is nice. The box sports a picture of Earl and Fran in a pose reminiscent of Grant Wood’s American Gothic. The set sports the traditional Digipak design that slides out the side of the outer cardboard 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 brief note from Brian Henson, Michael Jacobs and Bob Young. Each disc features a member of the Sinclair Family (Earl, Fran, Robbie, and Charlene). I’m not a fan of the disc arrangement inside of the Digipak (which is used on most of Buena-Vista's 4-disc sets, including the first Dinosaurs set and "The Muppet Show Season 1"). The discs overlap each other meaning that sometimes you have to move two discs in order to get to the one you want.
The episodes on this set are great. If you like Dinosaurs, you'll love this release. And for the price you'll probably end up only paying around $0.75 per episode. The bonus features are great. My main criticism is the lack of any attention toward the vocal performances. Most of Dinosaurs was dubbed by vocal artists (and even boasts an impressive list of big name celebrities), however there was really no attention towards the casting, recording or the process of giving the voice to the characters on either DVD set. Unlike animation where the voices are recorded first and the action is set to the vocals, here the opposite was done. It would have been nice to talk about the voices and the guest stars.
Despite any minor nitpicks I have, I really love these sets. In less than one year all four seasons of the show are in my possession uncut. Disney has given fans a respectful DVD presentation. The bonus features are satisfying and entertaining.
If you like Dinosaurs I really suggest that you order this DVD set (and the first volume). There are tons of fun episodes and a great collection of bonus features on these discs that will keep you entertained for hours.
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