is a dinosaur
-themed Speculative Documentary Mini Series
that aired on the Discovery Channel
in 2003. It followed in the footsteps
of the famous and highly successful Walking with Dinosaurs
, and Discovery's own When Dinosaurs Roamed America
(produced by much the same team).
Like the above shows, it used CGI
to recreate long-extinct creatures, and placed them into real-life backgrounds
. However as opposed to its forerunners, all four of Dinosaur Planet
's hour-long episodes took place in the Late Cretaceous, and each told the story of one or two main dinosaur characters:
- White Tip's Journey: The tale of White Tip, a female Velociraptor trying to survive in the Mongolian desert and find a new pack after having lost her old one.
- Pod's Travels: Pod, a Romanian Pyroraptor finds himself stranded on a strange island full of little dinosaurs.
- Little Das' Hunt: A young and eager Daspletosaurus tries to aid his family on the hunt, but constantly gets in the way, much to the annoyance of his sisters and mother. Has a soul-crushing Downer Ending.
- Alpha's Egg: We follow the life of Alpha, a young female Saltasaurus, and her carnivorous adversary, Dragonfly, a male Aucasaurus.
As the above descriptions may tell, the stories seem much more fantasy-like, as opposed to being strictly scientific reenactments of prehistoric life on Earth. The "humanizing" of the dinosaurs doesn't stop at giving them names. The Narrator
gives us an insight into their thoughts and feelings, and a large number of plot elements seem to have been lifted straight out of an adventure novel. Does this make the documentary more engaging or rather laughably implausible? That's for the viewer to decide.
Not to be confused with the very
similarly titled Planet Dinosaur
, which is a BBC
production or the cancelled Nintendo 64 game of the same name
which later became Star Fox Adventures
The show contains examples of the following tropes:
- Always a Bigger Fish: Some Ichthyornis find the unconscious Pod on shore and are then chased away by dwarf dromaeosaurids. Then a few Allodaposuchus arrive and are about to take over the "carcass" when Pod wakes up and scares everyone away.
- Anachronism Stew: Many of the animals depicted hadn't evolved yet (most prevalent in "Pod's Travels" as the Tarascosaurus and possibly the plesiosaur were the only animals in their correct time).
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Averted. Broken Hand feeds on White Tip's eggs.
- Apocalypse How: The volcanic eruption at the end of Little Das' Hunt earns itself a class 0.
- Apocalypse Wow: The volcanic eruption at the end of Little Das' Hunt is pretty spectacular and horrifying.
- Art Evolution: Compared to When Dinosaurs Roamed America.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Dragonfly as a baby. Little Das may also qualify.
- Bad Ass: Oviraptor, Carcharodontosaurus, and Pod may also qualify at the end of his story.
- Big Bad: Dragonfly of "Alpha's Egg", who is also a Villain Protagonist.
- Big Damn Heroes: A lot of them are in Alpha's Egg.
- Behind the Black: As Shuvuuia is chased by White Tip's pack, an Oviraptor bursts from the left side of the screen and kills it.
- Bittersweet Ending: Almost every episode has one. White Tip ends up back where she started but with a group of youngsters that need to be taken care of, Alpha survives to adulthood and defeats Dragonfly but all her eggs drown in a flood, while Pod arguably has the happiest ending where he ends up as an apex predator and gets a new pack, but his former pack is still killed off and he'll never be able to interact with his own kind.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Than many previous dino-docs. The animators must have been really proud of their blood effects.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: During the Oviraptor mating dance, the narrator says this about the older male: "I gotta give him credit for trying."
- Bullet Time: The scene turns to slow-motion as the volcanic eruption obliterates Little Das and his family.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Prenocephale first show up when White Tip is trying to survive as a loner and fails to kill one. Later, Broken Hand is killed by some when he attacks them out of desperation after being evicted from the pack.
- Crapsack World: The Mongolian desert, and Patagonia for the Saltasaurus.
- Downer Ending: The whole cast of Little Das' Hunt dies, no matter how young or cute they are.
- Dumb Muscle: Allodaposuchus is said to be this.
- Eats Babies: Velociraptor, Notosuchus, Alvarezsaurus, and Aucasaurus. The Daspletosaurus try to, but then everybody dies.
- Everybody Dies: Little Das' Hunt.
- Expy: T. rex and Edmontosaurus to Daspletosaurus and Maiasaura respectively (as stated in the program), as well as animals that use the same animation models: Alvarezsaurus to Shuvuuia, Notosuchus to Allodaposuchus, Saltasaurus to Magyarosaurus, Aucasaurus to Tarascosaurus, and the island-dwelling dwarf dinosaurs to their mainland counterparts.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Some, like what happens to Dragonfly or the dwarf Tarascosaurus.
- Feathered Fiend: Many dinosaurs, including Velociraptor, Oviraptor, Pyroraptor, Troodon, Ichthyornis, Alvarezsaurus and Elopteryx (called "Troodon" in the episode). The Velociraptor and Pyroraptor are portrayed as sympathetic characters, however, and the Elopteryx are also benevolent towards the main character in the episode they're shown in.
- Averted by Shuvuuia, which only serves to get eaten by an Oviraptor.
- Fight Scene: A few. The most memorable being the Final Battle between Alpha and Dragonfly.
- Follow the Leader: To Walking with Dinosaurs.
- Genre Savvy: The Einiosaurus herd heads for the hills when they encounter Little Das, since, as the narrator points out, they know young pack members are used as scouts for the rest of the pack.
- Giant Flyer: Quetzalcoatlus.
- Good Bad Translation: Some dubs, like the Hungarian, got many animal names wrong. Most embarrassingly, the narrator pronounced Magyarosaurus (the word "magyar" being Hungarian for, well, Hungarian) as "Magiasaurus". Moreover, he constantly called the Aucasaurus "Arcosaurus" (which, ironically, would sort of become the name of another genus of abelisaur; Arcovenator), Prenocephale "Prenocephalus" and "Prenocephal", Maiasaura "Mayasaurus", and in one instance referred to White Tip as "White Nose" (the official title of the episode also calls her by this erroneous name).
- Gorn: Most of Pod's episode.
- The Hunter Becomes The Hunted: The Tarascosaurus stand no chance against a pissed-off Pod. Also counts as a slight aversion, since the Tarascosaurus in question are dwarf specimens, not the great mainland predators Pod once feared.
- Infant Immortality: Averted, being a nature documentary that went for shock factor.
- Specifically: some Oviraptor chicks are killed by Velociraptor, Some of White Tip's eggs are eaten by Broken Hand, Little Das and presumably Buck and Blaze are killed by a volcanic eruption, many baby Saltasaurus are killed by Notosuchus, Alvarezsaurus, and Aucasaurus, and Alpha's first clutch of eggs drowns.
- Know When To Fold Them: The Daspletosaurus finally ends their grueling hunt of Buck at the end of their program... because they've finally regarded the volcanic apocalypse only miles away as a threat.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Doesn't Little Das seem like one in "Little Das' Hunt"?
- Mama Bear: The father Aucasaurus has to flash his red throat to keep his mate from going Mama Bear on his tail.
- White Tip also qualifies.
- Minor Injury Overreaction: Alpha's leg gently brushes against a fallen twig. And she limps throughout the rest of the episode. This is supposed to be realistic.
- Misplaced Vegetation: Grass in Europe. It's only known to have grown in India back then.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Carcharodontosaurus in South America, when it was actually African. They could have named the critter Giganotosaurus, which looked almost exactly the same, and was South American.
- Not to mention Ichthyornis and Troodon in Europe. They're both known from Eagle Land, and the latter from Canada, Eh? as well. Though Ichthyornis was a seabird, it could have flown anywhere it wanted.
- The European Troodon is actually Elopteryx, they just called it Troodon.
- In an interesting case, there's absolutely no sight or mention of Gorgosaurus in the Daspletosaurus episode, even though the two genera lived in the same area and time.
- Monster Munch: The screentime of Shuvuuia consists entirely of it being chased by Velociraptor and subsequently eaten by Oviraptor.
- Mood Whiplash: Is Little Das' Hunt supposed to be funny or tragic? We are constantly treated to the adorable Little Das' childish antics, and then... he dies, along with the rest of the cast.
- Narrator: Christian Slater.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Allodaposuchus and Notosuchus.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Little Das ends up chasing the Einiosaurus and Maiasaura herds far out of the lowlands basically for fun. The herds end up combining into one larger herd, which ends up making it even more difficult to get to Buck later on. His mother is not pleased.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Slater mispronounces Shuvuuia as "Shuvia" (Dr. Scott Sampson later pronounces it correctly).
- Noisy Nature: There are scenes of dinosaurs roaring at each other that just won't end.
- Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Pod is normally an ordinary raptor, but he gets washed up on a smaller island, where he becomes the top predator...well, untill the giant pterosaurs find him, at least.
- Oh, Crap: Buck and Blaze when Little Das' mother shows up for the first time. Especially Blaze.
- One-Hit Kill: Pod uses his sickle-claw effectively against a dwarf Tarascosaurus. Alpha, on the other hand, utilizes an involuntary final blow.
- Predators Are Mean: Averted. Many main characters are carnivores themselves. Larger predators still often play antagonistic roles however.
- Ptero Soarer: The (again) scaly Quetzalcoatlus.
- Raptor Attack: To be fair, it's due to Science Marches On.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: Dinosaurs occasionally interact with the talking head, Scott Sampson.
- Rule of Cool: Most of the fight scenes.
- Science Marches On: While it was very up-to-date (some might even say ahead of its time) with its dinosaur portrayals, modern paleontology has made a few discoveries since its debut:
- We now know Aucasaurus had even less developed arms, and lacked claws altogether.
- Raptors should have actual clawed wings.
- Quetzalcoatlus didn't look nor live like that.
- Oviraptor was probably not nearly the Bad Ass the show portrays it as. And the ones in the show should be called Citipati.
- The plesiosaur shouldn't have been able to eat Pod's sister, nor would it probably be interested.
- Male deinonychosaurs were probably the ones responsible for brooding nests, and young deinonychosaurs were likely capable of foraging on their own instead of being fed.
- Pterosaurs were probably not outcompeted by birds, as the two coexisted for 85 million years.
- Velociraptors probably didn't need to live in packs to survive.
- Pod wouldn't have been at the top of Hateg island's food chain, the much larger Hatzegopteryx would have been (not mention the stiff competition he would face from similar sized dromaeosaurs like Balaur).
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: The Maiasaura herd and the Daspletosaurus pack haul ass once they see the pyroclastic flow heading right for them.
- Sea Monster: The plesiosaur from Pod's Travels.
- Seldom Seen Species: Shuvuuia, Prenocephale, Deltatheridium, Allodaposuchus, Pyroraptor, Tarascosaurus, Magyarosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Orodromeus, Einiosaurus, Alvarezsaurus, Aucasaurus, and Notosuchus.
- Small Annoying Creature: Ichthyornis. The narrator even calls it a "major pain".
- Small Taxonomy Pools: Totally averted. Shuvuuia? Einiosaurus? Tarascosaurus? Allodaposuchus? Orodromeus? Elopteryx? How many shows have these? Walking with Dinosaurs certainly doesn't.
- Speculative Documentary: Perhaps a bit too much on the speculative side.
- Stock Dinosaurs: T. rex, Edmontosaurus, Velociraptor, Oviraptor, Troodon, Protoceratops, Maiasaura and Quetzalcoatlus.
- Tail Slap: Alpha does this in her final battle with the Aucasaurus pair.
- Truth in Television: The scene in which a dueling Protoceratops and Velociraptor get crushed under an avalanche of sand has been based on the actual fossil of the actual event.
- A possibly unintentional example, unmentioned in the show: Dragonfly the Aucasaurus dies by having his skull crushed by Alpha. Fast-forward 80 million years, and the first discovered specimen of Aucasaurus has a crushed skull.
- Tyrannosaurus rex: Has only a cameo. But the Daspletosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus and Tarascosaurus fill in much the same role.
- Use Your Head: Prenocephale.