What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this series features the same content as Walking with Dinosaurs, though it's been edited into shorter episodes, and the narration was rewritten to be more kid-friendly. The show features a lot of scenes of prehistoric animals preying on others. While these images aren't overly bloody, it's clear that the animals are eating each other, and the meat gets a little icky. Sensitive kids might get a little upset. Also, there's some emphasis on the brutality of the prehistoric world and the need to kill to survive.
What's the story?
The nature captured in PREHISTORIC PLANET looks more like it did several hundred million years ago than what you'd see if you looked out your window today. If that sounds a lot like the 1999 BBC documentary Walking with Dinosaurs, that's because it is. Prehistoric Planet is that same documentary, diced up into 13 half-hour episodes in 2002 by the Discovery Channel and NBC for their Saturday morning programming bloc. The narration was also re-written for a younger audience and re-recorded by Ben Stiller and Christian Slater.
Is it any good?
The animation is spectacular. It's hard to tell which parts (if any) are live-action and which are animated. And the narration has just enough attitude to be amusing. Plus, despite the rewritten narration, the series plays to a wide range of ages, so the whole family will find it watchable, not just the dino freaks in the house. That said, it is a nature documentary and will sometimes plod along at the same slow gait as an over-sized sauropod.
It's also worth noting that, although part of the fun is the conceit that this is a "normal" nature film -- as opposed to a humans-on-a-dig-talking-about-bones kind of thing -- that very twist can lead to the idea that what's shown on the screen is real, rather than speculative. Unfortunately, there's little mention that it's all based on what scientists think they know, since no one is absolutely certain. But overall, Prehistoric Planet is more interesting than not.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what information this show is based on, given that there were no humans around when the creatures were alive (let alone cameras!). Much of the show is based on scientific research, but the action is basically all speculative. Do we really know what color dinosaurs were? Do you think this was exactly the way they walked? Sounded? Cared for their young? Fought one another? How can you tell the difference between what we think we know and what we know for sure?