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Dinosaurs - Series of the 90s

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Dinosaurs - Series of the 90s

 

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This peculiar sitcom produced by Michael Jacobs Productions and Jim Henson Television in association with Walt Disney Television and Buena Vista Television was originally aired on ABC from April 26, 1991 to July 20, 1994 for 65 episodes of 23 minutes each divided into 4 seasons. It was about a family of anthropomorphic dinosaurs.

This was a sitcom show with puppets using the animatronics processes, actors with a full-body suit, and actors providing the vice. The main story was about a family, the Sinclairs (in reference to Sinclair Oil Corporation which uses a dinosaur as its logo), that happened to be composed of dinosaurs set in the year 60,000,003 BC counting toward zero.

The Creature Shop of Henson Productions developed huge, lifelike puppets that could be operated from inside by puppeteers. Jim Henson's son, Brian, devised a process called ‘audio animatronics’ to bring the facial expressions of these puppets to life.

The show mixed elements of The Flintstones and The Simpsons, focusing on a blue-collar family of dinosaurs. Something that was referenced in the 21st episode of the 3rd season of the Simpsons:

    Lisa: These talking dinosaurs are more real than most real families on TV!
    Homer: Look Maggie, they have a baby too!
    Bart: It's like they saw our lives and put it right up on screen.

Earl (in reference to Earl Holding, Sinclair Oil's principal owner), the father, worked for the Wesayso Corporation leveling trees to make way for tract homes. His thick-headed and very suggestible personality was balanced out by his even-tempered wife Fran. The family had three children:

Robbie, a 15-year-old (he is 14 years old in the first 4 episodes) very intelligent, who often questions old dinosaur traditions for which he sees no reason and is the voice of wisdom when other dinosaurs show ignorance.

Charlene, a 13-year-old fashionable, shopaholic and very materialistic pre-teen.

Baby, the youngest of the clan, who was hatched in the first episode, a smart infant who loves Fran, whom he calls The Mama, but gives Earl, whom he calls Not the Mama, a hard time and will usually hit him with a frying pan and refuse to openly declare his love for him, even though he does genuinely love Earl.

Rounding out the family was Grandma Ethyl, who always seemed to be locked in a battle of wills with Earl. Other characters included B. P. Richfield, Earl’s fearsome boss, and Roy Hess, a pre-historic swinger buddy of Earl’s.

The series depicted a dinosaurs life being very similar to human life: they worked, they watched television, had sports, shopped at supermarkets, etc. This allowed the show to tackle relevant social concerns in their stories like environmentalism, women's rights, sexual harassment, objectification of women, censorship, civil rights, body image, steroid use, drug abuse, racism, rights of indigenous peoples, corporate crime, government interference of parenting, and allusions to homosexuality and communism (disguised as herbivorism).

Just like modern humans, the dinosaurs of the show wasted their natural resources and allowed themselves to stay bound to outmoded ways of thinking when they could turn things around by trying out more progressive ways of thinking, something that was noted, as mentioned before, repeatedly by Robbie, thus raising some kind of consciousness.

Dinosaurs was canceled in July of 1994 after 65 episodes that managed through the use of technology, a good script, good humor and a pure 90's style build a memorable TV show that made history.

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