last couple of years, Ive
noticed a disturbing trend start to emerge in Dinosaur documentaries:
They contain less and less factual information, and increasingly
scenarios: What kind of household pet would a Troodon make? Could a
Tyrannosaur bite through a Mini? What if T-Rex went up against a dragon?
Really? I mean, you may as well ask, what if Boba Fett took on an apache
helicopter. Although Id
probably watch that
may be glad to know that the BBCs
Planet Dinosaur is a
documentary. It focuses on new discoveries from the last decade or so,
and aims to tell you a few things that you didnt
already know- which is of course the goal of any good doco.
title suggests, Planet Dinosaur doesnt
just focus on the well-trod dig sites of North America. Over the course
of the six episodes, were
taken to some more exotic locales around the Mesozoic world, including
China, South America and Africa. This means you wont
see one scale of T-Rexs
hide, although quite a few of his Tyrannosaur cousins make an
a shame that the chunk of Gondwana we now call Australia is ignored,
because a lot of great finds have been made in this country
but I guess you cant
ask for everything.
lends credibility and authority to the program with his narration, which
is a big part of what makes the show work.
instantly get the feeling that Planet is trying to distance
itself from what has come before. It almost snobbishly ignores the more
popularised variants, like Velociraptor and Triceratops, and
is almost a catch-cry for the series.
the locations, the animals described are some of the most exotic and
weird in the fossil record. The menagerie that has been brought back to
life includes the giant meat-eater Carcharodontosaurus, a truly massive
sauropod called Argentinosaurus, and a strange bird-like creature called
Epidexipteryx (I wonder how long it took John Hurt to be able to recite
that name with any confidence.)
effort has been made to make the interactions between the dinosaurs as
realistic as possible. Many of the predator-prey scenarios are
recognisable from actual wildlife documentaries, with the lions, buffalo
and crocodiles swapped out for prehistoric monsters.
lead to some very thrilling-and grisly- confrontations as the animals
butcher each other alive. The producers certainly havent
pulled any punches with the gory presentation.
good on TV, but youll
certainly appreciate the jump in visual acuity if you choose the Blu-Ray
option. This is where the CGI effects come into their own: Every detail
is super-defined, and youll
notice more of the little details like glistening blood and steam
puffing from a dinosaurs
nostrils. The CGI isnt
perfect, and some of the animations lack the fluency and fluidity you
would expect, but overall the presentation is of a very high standard.
with the realistic approach, you wont
hear any booming roars from any of the dinosaurs. Each has its own
vocalisations, but these usually consist of a honk or a squawk or a low
hiss- more of what you would expect from an animal that shares its
lineage with reptiles and birds rather than bears or lions.