"Gimme a chance, folks!" The Dinosaur Revolution Velociraptor.
Consider these two numbers:
They are the number of American households that tuned into the Discovery Channel premieres of Walking With Dinosaurs and Dinosaur Revolution, respectively. What a difference twelve years makes, eh? Walking With Dinosaurs was a ratings monster, not to be toppled from its position as the Discovery Channel's largest ratings earner until just last year, when Life surpassed it. The television landscape in the U.S. has changed drastically since then and a direct comparison is hard to make. There are more channels now. We've had a decade to be saturated with varyingly successful CG dino shows. Regardless of the reasons, it's clear that DR isn't the phenomenon WWD was. WWD is now truly a brand, after all, with accompanying books and a continuation of the series in Walking With Prehistoric Beasts, Walking With Cavemen, and the upcoming 3D extravaganza (er, T.rexstravaganza, anyone?).
The sad thing is, it doesn't seem that Dinosaur Revolution was given a fighting chance. We hear that it was meddled with as Discovery Channel executives came and went, and as I said in my review of the first half of the series, the end result is a show crammed into a format that doesn't suit it. So while I think that Mickey Mortimer's review, for one example, misses the point, I don't think it's completely unreasonable. DR is presented as a documentary on a network associated with documentary programming (however rigorous it may actually be). So it's going to have to take those pedantic lumps. The following crticisms from Mickey are entirely appropriate for a full-fledged documentary:
"What made Dinosaur Revolution most difficult to watch is the rampant anthropomorphism. Basically none of the subjects actually behaves like a reptile, or a bird, or even a non-ape mammal for that matter. They're chock full of human mannerisms. You can always tell what they're supposed to be feeling, as if brains that size could even house such emotion."This wouldn't be a problem if Discovery, or preferably, a different media outlet entirely, would have released this series the way it seems that it was envisioned from the first: as a freakin' dinosaur cartoon. When someone picks up Delgado's Age of Reptiles, they aren't inspired to write hundreds of words about how inaccurate it is. It's a graphic novel. You don't pick it up expecting the veracity of a textbook or research paper. Even if Dinosaur Revolution had been presented as originally intended though, it would have a different set of expectations to overcome: it seems that there's something about CG animation that burdens the story with the baggage of documentary realism.
In the end, it's just another sad, typical example of a program thwarted by bad handling by the network. Well, if producer Erik Nelson and his friend Werner Herzog can actually bring it to the big screen, maybe it isn't the end after all. But I'll bet that even if it's renamed Goofy Dinosaur Talez, it'll have it's share of pedantry hurled its way. Because you know... dinosaurs aren't meant to be fun now, are they?
I'm trying to pull together the Nielsen ratings for other big Dino programs from the last decade or so, but am having some trouble finding them. However, I have found that 2001's When Dinosaurs Roamed America premiered with a very respectable 5 million viewers.