If you have young children, you may be familiar with Jim Henson's Dinosaur Train on PBS. Just having the Jim Henson name attached gives this cartoon (and anything else) some credibility. Before I go into my thoughts about my son's current favorite show (which I think you'll enjoy even if you've never heard of Dinosaur Train), here's a description from the PBS website.
Dinosaur Train begins when Buddy [a Tyrannosaurus Rex] is adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Pteranodon and brought to their nest to hatch at the same time as his new siblings, Tiny, Shiny and Don. Buddy and his new family have an insatiable desire to learn all about the different types of dinosaurs, so they board the wondrous Dinosaur Train, which allows them to travel and explore the world inhabited by these amazing creatures.
Where to start? Well, combining dinosaurs and trains is a brilliant idea. These are two of many kids' favorite things.
As for the Pteranodon family, Tiny is extremely outgoing, confident and talks to everyone. Buddy is also adventurous (though slightly less so than Tiny) and loves to state his hypotheses. Meanwhile, Shiny is high-maintenance and often self-centered, and Don may be the first animated special needs character on a kids' show. I applaud the Dinosaur Train creators for including such a character.
Back to the show's premise, how exactly does a Tyrannosaurus Rex egg wind up in a Pteranodon nest? This is never explained, and there is no indication that there was an adoption process. There is actually an episode where Buddy learns that he's a T-Rex, and the T-Rex family offers to have Buddy live with them. He declines because the Pteranondons are his family now. Personally, I'd like to see the adoption paperwork since something seems sketchy. Donald Trump and others should focus on this rather than President Obama's birth certificate.
Besides Mr. and Mrs. Pteranodon, the other main character is The Conductor, a Troodon that knows everything. Not explained is how through this vast dinosaur train network that travels throughout the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous time periods, The Conductor drives every train. Doesn't he get a vacation? Aren't there other conductors who can take his various routes?
Now that you know the primary characters, here is my number one complaint about the show. Check out the theme song:
At no point during the song is Mr. Pteranodon mentioned. He barely even makes the opening! Yet, many Dinosaur Train trips consist only of Mrs. Pteranodon, Buddy and Tiny meaning that Mr. Pteranodon is back caring for the two kids that require more supervision.
Here are my other thoughts/notes about the show:
- You may have noticed the dinosaur that roars at the end of the song. That is Laura the Giganotosaurus who appears to do little other than ride the train. Seriously, she is always on the train.
- In most episodes, you'll see The Conductor punching the tickets of the Pteranodon family. I've always wondered about the ticket policies and procedures. It must be expensive to constantly ride the Dinosaur Train. Does the family get a special monthly/yearly pass? Are there discounted train ticket prices for the kids? Is it extra to ride the Dinosaur Train Submarine (which should just be called the Dinosaur Submarine)?
- One of the characters that appears on multiple episodes is King Cryolophosaurus. (Yes, I had to look up the spelling...and name.) He's a dinosaur Elvis that is also scared of crowds. He can get annoying though some of his songs are pretty good.
- The winner for most annoying character goes to The Conductor's Mom, Mrs. Conductor. She is a less attractive version of Fran Drescher.
- I almost forgot to mention Dr. Scott, the paleontologist that appears in the middle of each episode to share some dinosaur knowledge. Whenever he comes on the screen, my son asks us to fast-forward. Dr. Scott is no Dr. Ross Geller!
Overall, Dinosaur Train is a good kids show. I'm personally tired of Dinosaur Train now since my son seems to only want to watch that show. (Is it that much to ask for the show to produce a few new episodes?) However, I thought it was the greatest show ever when I first watched it, though that was probably because I couldn't take any more Thomas & Friends. Dinosaur Train does have some educational aspects, and it is interesting learning about all of the different types of dinosaurs.
Now that you've made it through the end of this post, what do you think? Personally, I feel like this is either a masterpiece or the beginning of the end of my "career" as a blogger!
Update: After publishing this, I found another Dinosaur Train post at LyzLenz.com. Amazing! She also mentioned something I've thought about many times. When are they going to show Buddy (or any other dinosaur) eating another dinosaur? Once Buddy gets older, his pteranodon may want to watch their backs!