Mega Beasts

 
(i)

 

Impressive CGI offers glimpse into ancient creatures' lives.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series brings to life some notable prehistoric creatures and provides a glimpse into how they lived during their heyday. Viewers get a sense of the geological landscape of the world during the beasts’ lifetime and learn what factors contributed to their eventual demise.

Positive role models

The CGI animals can't really be considered role models, either positively or negatively.

Violence

Lots of scenes show CGI-replicated prehistoric beasts killing and eating their prey, and the process is often bloody -- though not overly graphic. Occasionally the comparative content also calls for live-action scenes of animals like lions taking down gazelles and other prey.

Sex

Occasional discussion of breeding practices, in some cases accompanied by illustrations of creatures mating. In one scene, for instance, a large sea beast rests atop its partner as the narrator likens its practices to those of modern reptiles.

Language

Very rare use of "hell," as in "a reptile from hell."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series’ focus on ferocious prehistoric beasts means that there are lots of confrontations between the computer-generated images of the predators and their prey, whom they bite and disembody -- usually with plenty of bloody (though it's all re-created). There are also occasionally additional live-action video clips of modern animals hunting. That aside, there’s plenty of educational content in this intriguing show, and the material is relatable since it references modern regions that are rich in prehistoric evidence and current creatures that resemble extinct species. Expect a few references to and images of breeding practices, but nothing too eyebrow-raising.

Parents say

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What's the story?

In MEGA BEASTS, teams of scientists use fossil evidence and computer graphics to bring to life some of the most ferocious creatures ever to walk the earth -- including the mosasaur, Spinosauras, and Terror Bird. The series demonstrates how experts piece together clues to create a picture of how these ancient beasts looked and lived, how evolution favored their rise to dominance, and what factors eventually led to their extinction.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This intriguing series is as close to a prehistoric field trip as families can get, and overall it’s worth the trip. Not only does it offer a visual sense of the creatures themselves, but it does a thorough job of completing the picture for viewers with the surrounding geological landscape. The show also compares its CGI subjects’ characteristics to those of modern animals and reptiles. And viewers get another great frame of reference when paleontologists visit sites like the Kansas Badlands to point out evidence of prehistoric life. Don't expect perfection, though -- some critics have called this show out for factual inaccuracies.

Mega Beasts is sure to pique budding young scientists' curiosity, but for all of its educational value, it’s not a show to share with your youngest family members. Much of the content relates to the ancient creatures’ predatory dominance, so violent exchanges between them and their prey are prevalent. And occasional references to breeding tactics and images of creatures in mating positions might prompt some questions from little kids -- so save this one for your tweens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about science. How do scientists uncover clues about the past? How have their discoveries helped us understand extinct species like dinosaurs? Why is this important to us now?

  • Tweens: What aspects of science interest you? How do scientists make discoveries and invent products that improve our lives? What problems would you like to see solved by science?

  • What did you learn from this show? Could you have learned the same thing from a book or magazine? What rules should the media have to follow regarding content? Does it have a responsibility to provide quality/family-friendly content?

  • Can you find any inaccuracies in the show? Do you expect a show like this to always get its facts straight, or is it allowed some creative freedom to make the show more interesting?

TV details

Network:Discovery Channel
Genre:Educational
TV rating:TV-PG

This review of Mega Beasts was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byKronosaurus May 26, 2011
 

The special effects are all that this highly repetitive mockery of science has going for it.

This hour-long show is very repetitive. The commentary on the size and scariness of prehistoric creatures is sprinkled throughout each episode, never really offering much new material after each commercial break. But that's not what bothers me. I am irritated by all of the show's inaccuracies. The producers don't really seem to care if the viewer knows anything about the subject, or if they will take every word for true. For instance, they show Spinosaurus eating a dinosaur the size of its head in one bite. The problem is that the dinosaur Spinosaurus ate was half its size in real life. Also, they show Spinosaurus throwing its weight around, as if they never thought it might get badly wounded. Would a crocodile throw its weight around? No, of course not. It would hide in the water, wait for its prey to come near and then catch it. Spinosaurus doubtless did the same. They even show scaly raptors! They've been known to have been feathered since the late nineties! Teachers, do not show your students this when you don't have a lesson at the ready. There are much more informative choices out there (Planet Dinosaur, NOVA, National Geographic specials and even Dinosaur Train are all excellent picks). That said, the show's graphics are actually quite good (but still far from cutting-edge). I occasionally watch the show when I want to see good recreations of prehistoric life. Sadly, that is the show's lone strong point. I am sad that this is being called "science". I am very disappointed in the program as it is.

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