Reviews: Dinosaur Train

"The best dinosaur 'documentary' ever, and it's for preschoolers"

Note: This is a heavily condensed version of my review here. Not a fan of the word limit.

I have to say I'm rather impressed with this show. It presents a lot of scientific concepts to children. It doesn't do too much dumbing down, either. Whenever birds are shown, the show never forgets to point out that birds are theropod dinosaurs. It also contains fairly accurate information on all the different animals that feature. At the end of each episode paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson explains the basic science behind that episode, and a character called Mr. Disclaimer sometimes shows up to point out the more fictitious elements in the show. This show is more informative and science based than most dino "documentaries" out there!

Dinosaur Train has a good mix of well-known and slightly more obscure dinosaurs as well as others that fall in between. I also like how this show doesn't focus only on the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and plesiosaurs. We also get episodes centered on turtles, frogs, mammals, dragonflies, lizards, sharks, hermit crabs, and nautiloids. And they aren't just random turtles, frogs, mammals, lizards, sharks, or nautiloids; much of the time specific taxa are named.

If I were to complain about this show it'd be that not all the dinosaur designs are quite as up to date as they should be. For example, the Troodon, Deinonychus, and Chirostenotes are "half arsed" even though other aviremigians have a full feather coat. Also, the Pteranodon are bipedal, have scaly skin, and have wings shaped somewhat like those of bats, which is rather jarring when they are among the main characters.

The extremely colorful 3D animation looks good on many of the dinosaurs, but I find that the one mammal character falls into the Uncanny Valley. Every single strand of hair is visible, which makes her look out of place compared with the other, less detailed, characters, and the big glassy eyes look creepy. The show puts a strange spin on No Cartoon Fish. It doesn't pretend predation doesn't exist, but predation almost never occurs on screen except to arbitrary actinopterygians and small insects. Otherwise, the carnivores are always seen eating carrion. Presumably they go out of their way not to eat anyone they personally know... on screen, at least.