The Dinosaurs are an animatronics stone-age working-class family created by Jim Henson for Disney. Incredibly overweight, even for a dinosaur, Earl Sinclair is married to Fran and tries/fails to support 14-year-old valley girl Charlene, 16-year-old Robbie (whose crest eventually turns into a mohawk and gets dyed purple), widowed, cranky Grandma Ethel, and terrible-twos Baby, the true master of the house. Sharp social commentary is featured surprisingly often; Earl is a tree-pusher for the Wesayso Development Corp., which regularly implements schemes to screw their workers even more and destroy the world for marginal profit increment. Chilled but live prey are kept in the refrigerator and are helpful when you can't find the milk, and caveman humans make occasional appearances as wild animals and pets.Written by
Although the credits list actors/puppeteers for the characters individually in the credits, the Howard Handupme newscaster character, despite being in multiple episodes, is never listed separately and credited directly (presumably his portrayer(s) is/are listed under the "other actors" credits). See more »
Original airings of season one featured a laugh track, which was deleted from all network repeats, syndicated re-runs, and home video releases. See more »
This is one of those magical shows that has the perfect mix of writing, cast & crew that comes together far too seldom and provides you with something that's about as sublime as can be mustered. Also, it entertains on many levels so that anyone watching will be able to laugh at, and learn from, each episode.
The show enjoys a terrific cast of voice actors, some well-knowns (Sherman Hemsley, Sally Struthers, Florence Stanley, Christopher Meloni) along with lesser-known talent but who were equally as gifted here, and their chemistry together worked very well.
Each show had a heady topic to be dealt with, such as marijuana; sexual harassment; stealing; job loss; children switched at birth; steroid use; cataclysmic forces in nature; arrogance; caring for the elderly; et al, all while doing so in as light-hearted a manner as possible and with a plethora of humor thrown in along with a gem of wisdom at the end.
This show is a combination of The Honeymooners, The Flinstones, and All In The Family (Sally Struthers is here also, once again suffering an obnoxious father), but is crafted as an inverted Flinstones in that the dinosaurs are the intelligent ones that live in homes, watching TV, and the cavemen live outside in the wild or are the family pets.
The lives of everyone seem to be ruled by the domineering, fearsome "WeSaySo" corporation (it's only funny because it's true) which is the company that loud-mouthed father Earl works for under the thumb of the tyrannical BP Richfield, an odd carnivorous triceratops expertly voiced by Sherman Hemsley. Earl is equal parts Archie Bunker, Fred Flintstone and Ralph Cramden, but possessing about 1/100th of either's intellect, and his best friend, Roy, is a near clone of Ralph Cramden's best friend Ed Norton, who even uses phrases such as "Pally Boy" in this show.
Beyond WeSaySo, the family suffers trials and tribulations at near every turn, from a volcanic eruption closing school for an "ash day" (eg: snow day), to the continent breaking apart, all the way down to the food in the refrigerator (who's vermin leader, I might add, has a cabbage for a hand) taking your family hostage.
Rounding out the family are level-headed mother Fran, tree-hugging son Robbie (perhaps the only one that can see their species is on a path of self-destruction (again, only funny because it's true?) and is forever trying to educate the imbeciles around him), shopping-crazed daughter Charlene, difficult mother-in-law Ethel, and lastly the tyrannical sadomasochistic scene-stealing Baby (I'm the Baby! Gotta love me!).
If ever a TV show generated classic one-liners as found in the realm of a cult-classic movie, this show is it. A decade and a half later, many of those one-liners are still fresh with me today: from overused fare such as "Not the mama!" and "Again!!!", to more obscure ones such as Spike's offering for the school science project "I don't do projects" which then leads to "I call this: What's inside a TV"; to Mr Lizard's oft used "We're going to need another Timmy!"; to pea-size-brained Roy's discovery of a suggestion box, which he speaks into saying "This is Roy...What do you suggest?" as he then leans his ear to the slot listening for a response; to stoned-out hippie BP Richfield's take on Jimmy Hendrix's "Purple Haze" when under the influence of the Happy Plant at work; and lastly bumbling BP's groping for words, trying to say something flattering to the enormously-necked Monica Devertebrae which finally comes out as "Neck! Small! Neck small! My, my, my, what a LoVeLy neck small!", this show is absolutely overflowing with one-liners.
Remarkable still today, the Henson company developed the animatronic puppet for this show, one that employed the use of a person inside a huge rubber body suit for each character. Each puppet required about (if memory serves) four to seven people to operate the facial expressions and certain movements to bring the character to life, all while syncing up to the voice actor for that puppet. Quite a heady task, and it was typically pulled off with great aplomb, the exception being the first episode which was a bit clunky.
Although a terrific show for children, any person of any age can enjoy this gem of a show as it is also chock full of humor that only an adult would get. If you haven't yet seen Dinosaurs, do yourself that favor and check it out - you will immediately be hooked!
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