Thursday, December 07, 2006

WIHTESTGALQ - Walking with Dinosaurs

One in a series of reviews of What I Have to Endure Sometimes to Get a Little Quiet.

I have now put up with about five years of entertainment aimed at kids, and I am ready to share my opinions.

Walking with Dinosaurs. Big Man got a 5-disc set of the BBC programs Walking with Dinosaurs and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts for his birthday this year, because he had expressed a sort of glancing interest in dinosaurs (and because I'm a big geek).

Gee, it would have been great if it had taken hold. If, for example, he were now in an early-early admission program at the University of Chicago instead of merely being able to identify every single creature in the National Geographic Encyclopedia of Prehistoric Mammals.

The series is so well-done as to be spooky; the effects rival and in some cases surpass the movies (except for the hominid episode - even the kids think that the little primates in that one move like something from a video game). It's also nice that as much time is spent on marine animals and weird little early mammals as on the big predators and woolly mammoths.

Kenneth Branagh narrates. His style is rather dramatic, and it totally captivates the kids. This has led to some amusing moments. This summer, walking through the salt marsh on St. Simon's Island, Mr. Three saw a couple guys crabbing off the causeway. He stopped and asked them what they were doing, then peered into the water, looking for crabs. He said, "I don't see any crabs, guys. I think this is a world... ruled... by crocodiles!"

At times you can hear them in the tub, playing with their model sharks and dinosaurs, and providing play-by-play commentary in an accent straight out of Oxford: "The carnivorous reptile struggles to keep up, but he will eventually lose the race, for this is a world... ruled... by bahds!"