I’m a big supporter of Nickelodeon’s educational programming. Anyone who’s read my articles on this site knows that I love The Fresh Beat Band, and have enjoyed Team Umizoomi, Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go! among others. Yes, I’ve had my issues with Yo Gabba Gabba, but overall the shows aimed at young minds on Nickelodeon are well done and enjoyable.
When I heard that Nickelodeon had a new series about dinosaurs coming out, I was excited. Dinosaurs have always fascinated me ever since I was a kid, and a new series about them intrigued me. The dinosaur craze resurfaced back in 1993 with the theatrical release of Jurassic Park based on the novel by Michael Crichton. While it’s in no way a film aimed at young kids, dinosaurs became the subject of fascination for young and old alike.
The new Nickelodeon series, Dino Dan, takes kids on a journey of both prehistoric and imaginative proportion. It follows Dan (Jason Spevack), a young kid who is obsessed with dinosaurs; so much so that he sees and interacts with them in the modern world. Each episode explores a new area of the intriguing world of dinosaurs through the eyes of our hero, Dan.
To be honest, I had a hard time watching this series. Maybe it’s because I had high expectations for what it was going to be, but Dino Dan just didn’t work for me. While I do believe that the show has the potential to be great and really educate kids about the exciting and fun world of dinosaurs, I don’t feel that the series (especially the episodes I watched) did the topic justice.
Instead we’re introduced to Dan’s school world that is filled with bitter teachers, incompetent students, and last writing. I wasn’t sure if the show was supposed to be funny, or if the tone was more serious in nature. The classroom segments dragged on for want seemed like forever and I never felt like I was learning anything cool about dinosaurs.
What may have worked better is Dino Dan “hosting” segments about dinosaurs and traveling to places and talking to people about dinosaurs, fossils, and other topics relatd to these prehistoric giants. There could still be a storyline, and he could have a friend like his adventure-seeking femele pal, Kami (Jaclyn Forbes) , but we would see them interact with the real world of dinosaurs.
One thing I did like was the use of CG dinos that interact with Dino Dan throughout the episode. The effects are good for the type of show, and I think that it added a much-needed break from the dullness of the classroom sequences (And really? A dumb fat kid? Do we need to be that clichéd?).
Now, I may be wrong on all counts. I may juts be jaded by the amazing effect in Jurassic Park and am looking for something more on the level of Discovery Kids than Nickelodeon for my dino information. But I do think that this series does preschoolers a disservice by not giving them an exciting, fun, and educational look at dinosaurs. If Team Unizoomi can make math fun, surely dinosaurs deserve the same level of excitement.
So now I want to hear from you. As parents, as grandparents, as viewers, am I way off about this? And if so, why? Is the show fine the way it is, or do you feel like it could be a lot better? Feel free to let me know.
Dino Dan premieres Sunday, October 17 at 7pm (EST/PST) only on Nickelodeon.