Dinosaurs (1991-1994) is mainly remembered for the novelty value of being a 90s family sitcom done with elaborate enourmous expensive dinosaur puppets (It was apparently Jim Henson’s last brainchild before his death in 1990). What you might not remember, however, is how boldly political this show was. Seriously, Dinosaurs had an agenda, a staunchly left-wing one, and in family entertainment it was pretty unprecedented.
One example is the Gulf War parody in the episode Nuts to War which was aired soon after the war. It took a critical look at going to war for resources (in this case, pistachios), the underlying prejudices in that war (in this case, it is 2-legged dinosaurs vs 4-legged dinosaurs), the censoring of the media (news anchors can’t show live footage of war, so instead they recreate it with toy dinosaurs), and the problem with the fact that the army is made up of ‘mostly teenage boys and the poor.’
But more poignant, in my opinion, was the epic final episode of the series, Changing Nature. In the 1994 series finale, Earl (doing the bidding of his employer, Wesayso Corporation) brings about global cooling by tampering with the precious workings of the ecosystem (he first accidentally kills all plant life, and then tries to remedy it by blowing up all volcanoes to create rainclouds. Instead these clouds create the ultimate nuclear winter). In short, Earl brings about the Ice Age that leads to the end of all dinosaurs.
In the final scene Earl has to explain to Baby that the Earth is now uninhabitable and that he won’t have a future due to Earl’s meddling with and lack of appreciation for the environment. It is a very grim, heartbreaking and offputting way for this usually perky puppet family sitcom to end. And it’s made all the more eery (and pertinent) because the lesson Earl learnt too late is the one we’re needing to get our heads around today. The last line Earl says to Baby is:
“I’m sure it will all work out OK. After all, dinosaurs have been on this Earth for 150 million years. It’s not like we’re going to just… disappear.”
Watch the final scene here. You might cry. Seriously, you might.