Dinosaurs is one of those television shows that I remember absolutely nothing about, and yet I’m absolutely certain I love it. Sometimes love is like that. In fact, love is always like that.
Dinosaurs ran for about one or two seasons. Wait—I just looked that up. The show actually existed for four seasons from 1991-1994. I’m rustier than I think. Come to think of it, I can’t even remember the characters’ names. But I’m serious. I really LOVE this show. My original Nintendo sat in the back of the closet for fifteen years, but that didn’t mean I ever stopped loving it. I think it’s time to dig Dinosaurs out of the memory closet.
The show was a collaboration between Walt Disney Studios and Jim Henson Productions. The show centered on the Sinclair family, a family of dinosaurs in the Pangaea era. They were Earl Sinclair, the father; Fran Sinclair, the mother; Robbie Sinclair, the son; Charlene Sinclair, the daughter; Junior Sinclair, the baby; and the grandma dinosaur who wore a bonnet. The grandma dinosaur probably had an official name, but do you really want to call her anything other than “the grandma dinosaur?” I think not.
The show aired on ABC on Friday nights during the “dream team” block of programming that was TGIF. Like everything in the 1990s, the show was a bit deranged and often dealt with very serious subjects such as environmentalism, endangered species, women’s rights, sexual harassment, and corporate crime. Then in the series finale, the writers decided to kill all the beloved characters in a nuclear winter apocalypse. TV Guide even printed a warning that the final episode might disturb viewers. I’m not kidding. Go look up the series finale. The last three minutes can be easily found on YouTube. It’s depressing. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the reason why I can’t remember anything about the show. I probably watched that ending as a kid and was so upset I just blocked out the whole thing. The whole thing.
Still, I need to watch this series again. I’ve sort of been waiting for Netflix Instant to add it. Hello, Netflix Instant? You never have anything good. Instead I’m forced to watch your oddball documentaries about Dolly Parton stalkers and stage parents. These documentaries are like crack to me. They’re Netflix’s secret weapon to keeping customers.
You know what? I’m so certain I’ll love Dinosaurs that when it comes on Instant, I will watch every episode. And not like that deal where I leave it in my queue for eternity after struggling to sit through the first episode. Like Street Sharks. One episode down and thirty-nine to go. Oh god. So many. It’s more likely I’ll finish reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and I can’t even get through the first paragraph of that.
“Well, Prince, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family. No, I warn you, that if you do not tell me we are at war, if you again allow yourself to palliate all the infamies and atrocities of this”
NOPE. Can’t get through it.
My whole point is THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN WITH DINOSAURS. I AM GOING TO WATCH THE SHIT OUT OF DINOSAURS.
Here’s what got me thinking about Dinosaurs in the first place—I recently found a Dinosaurs lunch box.
I bought it for two bucks at a yard sale. The wife was all like “don’t buy that dirty old lunch box,” and at first, I listened. I took one last longing look at it, put it back down on the table, and walked away.
Then I realized that was crazy. I JUST PUT DOWN A FREAKING DINOSAURS LUNCH BOX. I marched right back over to the table and plunked down two dollars. What else I am going to do with two dollars? Save it? Donate it to starving children? Finally buy a new light bulb for the front porch light? When there’s a purple Dinosaurs lunch box, it instantly moves to the top of the priority list. Sorry, starving children.
Now, this lunch box isn’t in mint condition. It’s pretty banged and scuffed up. There’s no Thermos inside, and the lunch box itself has trouble snapping shut all the way. Whatever kid owned this lunch box before lunched hardcore with it. And of course they did. They chose the coolest lunch box to exist in 1991. Choosing a lunch box at the beginning of the school year was the most important decision a kid could make, but it was also one fraught with danger. You’d better not pick something lame or else you’d be hiding the telltale plastered sticker of secret shame all year. Not that this ever happened to me.
A side thought—these days all kids’ lunchboxes are made with soft insulating material to keep the lunches cool. Kids today will never know the putrid smell of room-temperature sandwiches and Kool-Aid that wafted out of the plastic box when you unsnapped the plastic latch. That’s right, a plastic latch, you kids and your fancy zippers.
So I salute you, kid who chose the Dinosaurs lunchbox in 1991. You’re most likely in your late-twenties or early thirties now, and you would probably think the fact that someone just bought your old lunchbox and wrote a thousand words about it on Internet is kind of weird. Or maybe you’re the cool kind of person who would appreciate a tribute to an old lunchbox, and that’s why you’re reading this right now. Right on.