An educational/informative show about mechanical engineering and technology. It was based on an excellent children's technology book called "The Way Things Work
" by David Macaulay. The show ran from September, 1993 to October, 1994. A total of 20 episodes.
The premise: A mammoth from the ice age is frozen in a glacier, and thawed out by a scientist and her kid sidekick
. The mammoth, named Phil, can speak perfect English and comes from a surprisingly sophisticated tribe of mammoth scientist/engineers. Each episode, Dr C. and Mike would, in a cold open
, encounter a tricky engineering problem with some device, and Phil would tell a story about solving the same problem years ago. Cue titles, then a Flash Back
The titular Cro was a young human boy (presumably a Cro-Magnon man), whose adopted Neanderthal family was assimilated into the mammoth community. Although the humans were, for the most part, pretty stupid, the mammoths found their opposable thumbs useful.
Each Flash Back
would have the mammoths coach Cro and his Neanderthal familiy through the solving of a problem with some type of simple machine. It differed from the typical Bamboo Technology
in that all the devices were built on a foundation of good solid science.
This program provides examples of:
- Animated Series
- Downer Opening Sequence: The opening sequence starts off with the main family of cavemen being saved from reoccurring villain, a purple sabertooth tiger, by Phil the Mammoth. Then the ground underneath Phil's feet collapses and he seemingly dies before the eyes of his friends when he plummets to his "death". This Troper, at least, always found this to be unsettling, at the best of times.
- This is made all the more depressing by that Phil would not be found for thousands of years, so Cro and company never found out that Phil survived and ended their lives never knowing. Then by the time said Mammoth would be reanimated, everything he knew and loved had long since died, though this never is brought up in the actual series. Whether that is a good or bad thing is left in the eyes of the beholder. And given the light-hearted nature of the series, some viewers found to be very jarring...
- Not enough for you? The opening theme song is done to the tune of Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion"!
- Heck, even the part stating Cro is "just a memory" is pretty sad.
- Expository Theme Tune
- Flash Back
- Framing Device
- Hot Scientist: I swear it was this show, but among the cast is a rather attractive scientist. At the start of one episode she's in a bikini much to a blushing Phil's embarrassment.
- Yes there was. Her name was Dr. Celia (or Dr. C), and she bore a resemblance to Cro, implying she might be his descendant.
- Hulk Speak: most of the neanderthal characters would talk like this. Complete with the Mongo Pawn In Game Of Life moments:
- Intellectual Animal: Turns out mammoths were all trained science teachers who spoke perfect late 20th century American English. Who knew?
- Last of His Kind: Phil, although he takes it remarkably well. Maybe all the reminiscing helps.
- Literal Ass Kicking: Cro got a lot of this in "Meal Like A Pig." He was repeatedly gored in the backside by a (baby) wild boar and he repeatedly fell off a small cliff and landed on his butt. What's more, it's implied that his adventure ended with him getting a huge dose of this trope from an entire pack of (adult) boars!
- Mammoth Popsicle
- No Fourth Wall
- One We Prepared Earlier
- Sesame Workshop: Produced this show.
- Smug Snake: Earl and his companion.
- Stuff Blowing Up: One episode was dedicated to gunpowder.
- The Teaser
- The Smurfette Principle: Mandy.
- The Unintelligible: Bob
- Welcome Episode
- Whole Episode Flashback