A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the stars of this show are computer-generated versions of prehistoric creatures, including dinosaurs, massive insects, and giant crocodiles. The animals are shown in re-created versions of their natural habitats and at actual size (proportional to humans), and they're often aggressive toward humans and vicious with each other (biting, goring, and eating what gets in their way). Although the graphics aren't first-rate, the result is real enough to frighten young viewers and sensitive older ones. On the flipside, the show does allow viewers to visualize the world and its inhabitants as scientists theorize it may have been millions of years ago.
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What's the story?
PREHISTORIC PARK uses documentary-style filmmaking to follow real-life wildlife expert Nigel Marven, a \"wildlife adventurer\" who travels through time to \"rescue\" ancient creatures from extinction, taking them to a present-day wildlife park he's prepared. Time portals allow him to lure the creatures (including dinosaurs, giant insects, and ancient birds) to Prehistoric Park, where an army of personnel is busily replicating the animals' natural habitats. Head park keeper Bob (Rod Arthur) and veterinarian Susanne (Suzanne McNabb) work with Nigel to monitor the arrivals' well-being. If the animals don't seem to be thriving, the team experiments with changes of scenery or lifestyle until they find the right balance to placate the creature. A voice-over narrator (David Jason), meeanwhile, explains the characters' every move.
Is it any good?
The fact that Prehistoric Park plays out like a documentary gives it the feel of a credible wildlife show -- but the plot is basically science-fiction. The time-travel angle results in a slew of unanswered questions for those with a logical bent, which might be forgivable if the show's graphics didn't leave so much to be desired. Scenes in which Nigel observes the computer-generated animals are momentarily intriguing, as he offers facts about their physique, eating habits, and natural predators, as well as the probable causes of their extinction. But these fleeting moments are often followed by Nigel moving in for closer contact, which leads to some pretty cheesy chase scenes. Viewers who do manage to suspend their disbelief will probably pick up some interesting facts and enjoy the images of ancient creatures in replications of their natural habitats, Prehistoric Park's format makes it so unbelievable that it's sometimes tough to figure out where it intends the line between science and fiction to fall.
Some of the show's face-to-face encounters with vicious, fairly realistic-looking creatures could very well frighten young viewers. Parents will want to watch with their grade-schoolers so they can help sift out the facts from the fiction.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the extinction of prehistoric animals. What does it mean to be extinct? What would life be like if some of the prehistoric animals (dinosaurs, giant crocodiles) still existed? What are the different theories behind extinction? Which theories seem the most likely to be true?
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