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Sesame Street: Dinosaurs!

Genius Products // 2008 // 40 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Jennifer Malkowski (Retired) // May 26th, 2008

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All Rise...

Sometimes in her darkest moments, Judge Jennifer Malkowski wishes a dinosaur would eat Telly.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Sesame Street: 20 Years And Still Counting (published September 4th, 2010), Sesame Street: Abby In Wonderland (published March 3rd, 2010), Sesame Street: Being Green (published April 6th, 2009), Sesame Street: Bert And Ernie's Great Adventures (published May 8th, 2010), Sesame Street: Bert And Ernie's Word Play (published April 9th, 2010), Sesame Street: Bye-Bye, Pacifier! (published January 1st, 2012), Sesame Street: C Is For Cookie Monster (published November 3rd, 2010), Sesame Street: Elmo And Abby's Birthday Fun (published June 10th, 2009), Sesame Street: Elmo's Shape Adventure (published October 16th, 2011), Sesame Street: Elmo's Travel Songs And Games (published May 8th, 2011), Sesame Street: Firefly Fun And Buggy Buddies (published June 1st, 2010), Sesame Street: Learning Letters With Elmo (published September 4th, 2011), Sesame Street: Love The Earth! (published June 4th, 2008), Sesame Street: P Is For Princess (published August 11th, 2010), Sesame Street: Preschool Is Cool! ABCs with Elmo (published July 6th, 2010), Sesame Street Spoofs! Volumes 1 and 2 (published July 10th, 2011), Sesame Street: The Best Of Elmo 2 (published May 19th, 2010), and Sesame Street: Wild Words And Outdoor Adventures (published April 17th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

What would happen if Elmo, Telly, and Abby became dinosaurs?!?

The Case

Nothing too exciting, apparently. Sesame Street: Dinosaurs! proves itself to be a meditation on our prehistoric predecessors that resolutely eschews the drama of predator and prey that the topic would suggest. But as much fun as it could be to see Elmosaurus running for his little stego life from a mighty carnivore, it might traumatize the young'ens, I suppose.

Instead Sesame Street: Dinosaurs! wins us over on a less sadistic level much more appropriate for its pint-sized target audience. This 40-minute adventure focusing on one of the most popular residents in the hallowed halls of "stuff kids like" features a number of different segments about dinosaurs with the monsters back on Sesame Street commenting and guiding us through:

• "Elmo's World" on dinosaurs
Today's episode includes Mr. Noodle, a video about the dinosaurs in New York's Museum of Natural History, a silly cartoon about dinos dancing, and (always my favorite segment) "Elmo Asks a Baby." The absurdity of doing a regular segment asking questions of a pre-verbal child is Sesame Street humor at its best—[sheepishly] plus, babies are cute.

This "Elmo's World" reaches similar levels of enjoyable silliness in the "Is this a dinosaur?" segment, in which we must identify whether images are of dinosaurs or not. My favorite response: "No, it's a birthday cake!" Later, we get a less enjoyable segment with a rather bland character named Herb Dino who tells Elmo a bit about the age of the dinosaurs, after which Dorothy fantasizes about Elmo being a Pterodactyl. Perhaps the low point of the whole video comes at the end of "Elmo's World" when Elmo sings a song about dinosaurs that is literally just the word "dinosaur" sung over and over again to the tune of "Jingle Bells."

• Abby wishes herself, Elmo, and Telly could be dinosaurs
And since she's a fairy, the wish comes true! Abby becomes a triceratops, Elmo becomes a stegosaurus, and Telly becomes a T-Rex (a comically unlikely match). The friends find out what it was really like to live a dinosaur's life and also sing a better song about dinosaurs. When the awkward subject of what they were going to eat came up, I thought there would be a moment of realization that Telly would have to eat Elmo and Abby, but such a moment never arrived.

• Elmo's pet dinosaur
This claymation about what Elmo would do if he had a pet Brontosaurus ends the show and was the highlight of Sesame Street: Dinosaurs! for me. The animation is charming and is accompanied by the sweetest little song, and the fantasy is touchingly relatable.

Though perhaps Sesame Street: Dinosaurs! relies to heavily on the entertainment value of putting dino prosthetics on their puppets and adding the tag "-saurus" to their names, the show will still be good fun for the kids (and perhaps those grown-ups who have best preserved their childlike sense of wonder). The educational bits are there, too, albeit subtly. By the end of the show, we've been taught about a few different types of dinosaurs, what dinosaurs eat, what other animals lived in their time, and (to Telly's horror) that they sleep on the ground without pillows or blankies.

I also realized watching this disc that Sesame Street is also overtly trying to give kids some training in the language of film. When Elmo says he met a dinosaur on Sesame Street last week, he then goes through an elaborate moment of looking up and saying to himself dreamily "Remember. Remember. Remember." as the camera zooms in and the screen goes wavy, cueing the flashback. Kids who are just finding their way into the culture of moving images don't know the cues for "flashback" the way we do, and little moments like these in Sesame Street help teach them. I was pleased to see that a program with such a great history of teaching literacy is thinking about teaching media literacy in an active way, too.

The one special feature on the disc is a five-minute "Journey to Ernie" short in which Big Bird must find Ernie in the land of the dinosaurs. On the technical side, video and sound are about what you'd expect for this type of release: nice bright colors, somewhat shrill songs, and some low-budget CGI dinosaurs, all presented with passable image and audio quality.

Today's review was brought to you by the letter D and the number 65 million. Let's cue our dino song to take us out, shall we?

Now stomp.
"Stomp, stomp!"

Now roar.

That's how you do the dinosaur, yes that's how you do the dinosaur!

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 82

Perp Profile

Studio: Genius Products
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 40 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• All Ages
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• "Journey to Ernie: Dinosaurs" short


• IMDb
• Official Sesame Street Site

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