Monday, October 3, 2011

Dinosaur Revolution: Survival Tactics

Special thanks to Vrahno for locating a download link to the formerly elusive third episode of Dinosaur Revolution. Spoilers ahead.

Like the first episode (and unlike the second and last), "Survival Tactics" is a collection of short stories instead of being one long story. Unlike the first episode, there doesn't appear to be much of a running theme for this one, although they tried to shoehorn one in (namely the very vague and broad theme of "survival tactics"). Which doesn't come across as a surprise, as these these stories were originally intended to be presented chronologically, not thematically. More screwing around by the network I assume.

Compared to the first two episodes, this episode is quite maniraptor (specifically deinonychosaur) heavy. Three (out of six) stories feature maniraptors, and two of those have them in starring roles.

The first of those stories (in fact, the first story in the entire episode) is about the large deinonychosaur Utahraptor. We have two flocks of Utahraptor attacking a juvenile Cedarosaurus but ending up fighting each other. A crocodylomorph also joins in the fun when it tries to drag the juvenile Cedarosaurus into the water, only to get chased off by the Utahraptor. It gets its revenge when a herd of adult Cedarosaurus come back to (literally) kick some theropod butt and one of the Utahraptor is knocked into the water. Okay, so the Utahraptor got the worst out of that deal, but I appreciate the subversion of the "invincible 'raptor' pack" trope. All too often deinonychosaurs are shown killing impossibly huge prey, so seeing Utahraptor of all deinonychosaurs getting beat up was a treat. The fact that they're shown targeting the juvenile is also realistic behavior that deserves to be portrayed in documentaries more. The plumage the Utahraptor have isn't bad, certainly better than most other deinonychosaur depictions that have been on TV. (All the aviremigians in Dinosaur Revolution have remiges, for instance. It's about time!) Some things to keep an eye out for in this segment are references to Raptor Red and the accompanying illustration for the description of Brontomerus. (Speaking of Brontomerus, a quick note about theropod-sauropod encounters in this show. Let's just say that out of the many theropod-sauropod interactions, I can only think of two where the sauropod gets off worse, while I can think of a good number that would probably make SV-POW proud.) Not a bad start to the episode.

The second story also stars a maniraptor, but this time the much smaller unenlagiine Rahonavis. I've been looking forward to this one ever since I saw the storyboards for it (which were released on Youtube prior to the broadcast of the actual show). The lighting in the story is darker and gloomier in the final product than I expected (even though I knew it would be foggy), and the Rahonavis looks a little cuter in the storyboard than in the final product, probably because the final design has a noticeably featherless, scaly face. Incidentally, there is no evidence for scaly faces in any paravians, but otherwise the model for the Rahonavis is excellent. We get to see the Rahonavis performing its day to day activities, flying down from the trees, hitching a ride on a Rapetosaurus, feeding on insects and seeds, and escaping from two young Majungasaurus by using WAIR, all fairly plausible behaviors. One entirely speculative behavior shown for the Rahonavis is mimicking sounds, an ability it later uses to scare away the young Majungasaurus. It's interesting that it is shown to be an omnivore, a subtle Shout Out to the omnivorous ancestry of maniraptors. The portrayal of Seldom Seen Species, the simplistic but interesting and well rounded story, and the plausible behaviors shown in this segment give it a spot among my favorite Dinosaur Revolution stories.

The third maniraptor in the episode is Velociraptor. Unlike Rahonavis, it plays an antagonistic role, and the protagonist of its story is instead the ceratopsian Protoceratops. As it happens, this is the only ornithischian centric storyline in Dinosaur Revolution. (Others were planned, but ornithischians turned out to be too boring by sheer bad luck they were all cut from the final product.) Another special characteristic of this story is that the (tacked on) narrator only says one line of background information at the beginning and doesn't intrude at all for the rest of the segment, giving us a taste of what Dinosaur Revolution was meant to be like. I really liked that. The story itself being engaging and full of heart helped as well. There are things I could nitpick about, but (shock horror) I almost didn't care. Certainly one of the best of the stories in the show (at least out of those that actually ended up being broadcast). As with all the other stories of this episode, the story is short (in fact, I felt that it had slightly been rushed a bit, presumably because little bits of all the stories had been cut out to make room for the last-minute talking head segments), so the Velociraptor don't get to do that much, but for most part I liked what I saw. It is strange though that, immediately after making a kill, they're shown killing an adult Protoceratops and trying to catch a juvenile. Surplus killing? An interesting factoid is that the Velociraptor species shown is not the better known V. mongoliensis, but V. osmolskae, as the story features the Bayan Mandahu Formation.

All in all, the maniraptor segments in this episode were enjoyable. Strangely, I felt that all the stories that didn't feature maniraptors were the goofier stories in the episode. (For the record, the other stories in the episode include a story about two Guanlong, one about a young Shunosaurus, and one about a young Anhanguera.) Some are (intentionally) full blown Looney Tunes shorts but with realistic-looking animals. Your Mileage May Vary on whether that's a good thing.

Incidentally, there's been some (much desired) good news on Dinosaur Revolution. Discovery has postponed the DVD release until a product more worthy of the creative team's efforts can be produced. As mentioned in my review of the first episode, this show has been screwed over really hard by the network, so this sounds like a huge victory for the creative team. Exactly what this will result in is still unknown, but I hope that we'll finally get to see the show in its intended format (or at the very least something closer to its intended format than the broadcast version).


  1. ;ink to third episode please

  2. See the comments in my review of the first episode.

  3. Thanks for this! I wasn't excited by the format of episode one, but this one includes segments I was very excited about, and your positive impression gives me hope. Now that I know where to get it, I'll have to download it!

  4. The caveat being that it so happens the segments I didn't review were arguably the weaker ones (in my opinion). And it has the same problems as all the others (narration and talking head segments being overly intrusive, anthropomorphism, etc.), of course. But otherwise enjoyable, yes.

  5. At last! I've been looking for the third episode as well. Thanks!

  6. "Discovery has postponed the DVD release until a product more worthy of the creative team's efforts can be produced."

    Ah, that might explain why I've had no luck putting it in my "Saved" Queue. Oh man, I really REEEEEEEALLY hope they have a "score only" audio option a la "Life". (Just rented that series and was enthralled by the Oprah-free edit.)

  7. After having watched ST myself (Finally!), my overall opinion of it is more-or-less the same as that of EW: Not-so-good. There was just too much weird behavior (E.g. Why didn't the Cedarosaurus herd stand their ground from the start?) & animation (E.g. The Utahraptors looked they were floating during the chase scene.) for my taste. However, I do agree w/you about the Rahonavis & Velociraptor stories. I especially liked the Velociraptors themselves AWA the Protoceratops music.

    "and the Rahonavis looks a little cuter in the storyboard than in the final product, probably because the final design has a noticeably featherless, scaly face."

    Krentz's sound effects helped, too.

    "Incidentally, there's been some (much desired) good news on Dinosaur Revolution. Discovery has postponed the DVD release until a product more worthy of the creative team's efforts can be produced."

    Where'd you read that? Just wondering.


  8. It's only been announced at several forums, for example: (see dinotastic's post, which is confirmed by Krentz in the next post)