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80’s cartoons were terrible.
Yeah I said it.
They were all glorified toy commercials with limited animation, inconsistent voice work, over the top cheesiness and the same freaking episode plots in every single show!!!!
But what about Transformers?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
An unashamed product of it’s time.
One word. Snarf.
OK, OK, I’m being over dramatic. Not all 80’s cartoons were terrible, and many of them did give us characters that went on to be iconic (I will say that I much prefer later incarnations of the Transformers, TMNT, and Thundercats however). But a lot of cartoons at the time did share many of the same problems. I think the biggest problem with cartoons from the time is that they’re all pretty creatively bankrupt. Sure, they gave us interesting set ups for stories and created worlds and characters that became infamous, but the actual stories they told with these worlds and characters were so incredibly generic. It all looked cool on paper, but in execution nobody seemed to know what they were doing. But that doesn’t matter, because all they had to do was sell toys. So what if the cartoon Cobra Commander is laughably nonthreatening, his action figure is still cool!
But even with all that in mind, nothing compares to the utter lack of originality that this particular show boasts. During the eighties, there was quite the resurgence of dinosaur related children’s media. There were a few animated shows like Dino-Saucers and Dino-Riders, which once again were made to sell toys.
But the most famous animated piece of dinosaur media as well as the least toyetic one of the time was the Don Bluth classic The Land Before Time.
Unfortunately, we aren’t talking about that today. In the words of our Lord and savior JonTron, “With every big fish, there’s a leech on the belly”.
For you to grasp the full meaning of what I am about to say, I advise you click that link. But be warned, what you see may shock and appall you.
So, yeah, doesn’t this look familiar.
Dink the Little Dinosaur was a somewhat short lived animated series that aired from 1989 to 1991. May I remind you that the Land Before Time came out in 1988. Like I said before, lots of dinosaur related media came out during this time, but this show is more than just another random dinosaur cartoon. No person with a sane mind can deny this is a blatant rip off of The Land Before Time.
First we’ve got Dink, and adventurous little Apatosaurus who is the de facto leader of the group. He is kind, brave, and always thinks about his friends.
Hmm, never seen that before….
Oh great, we’re already to a good start.
None of the other characters are quite as blatantly ripped off from The Land Before Time characters as Dink is to Littlefoot, but they all have their parallels.
Dink’s closest friend is Amber, a Corythosaurus whose color scheme does bring to mind Cera’s.
Personality wise, there’s not much comparison. Cera is more bull head while Amber is a much more level thinker. However, like Little Foot and Cera, Amber is paired with Dink most often. not only that, but they also share something that is a little more meta.
A voice actor.
Anndi McAfee voiced Amber, but then later went on to voice Cera in nearly all the sequels.
OK, that one probably is. But wait till you some of the other stuff.
Next we’ve got Shyler, a green Edaphosaurus who is the youngest member of the group. He often gets his words mixed up and is the most overly cutsy member of the bunch. Pretty much a dead on stand in for Ducky, except worse.
Then we’ve got Flapper, and really, the couldn’t be more obvious.
But strangely enough, Flapper isn’t the Petrie of the group. No, the role of annoying tiny character with a lisp in his voice that speaks in broken English goes to Scat, a dinosaur that I can’t identify at all.
It’s like a midget Wally Gator.
I said in my Land Before Time review that I don’t find Petrie as annoying as some other people do. But if you can’t stand Petrie, then you’re going to find Scat insufferable. He is this show’s Snarff, their Scrappy. I think they named him Scat because they knew how crappy the character was.
Also like The Land Before Time, the show refers to different dinosaur species in cute baby names instead of their actual species. At least they have the decency to use different ones (for the most part).
You know, even despite all that, the show wasn’t absolutely terrible. I will admit the some of the episodes did involve conflicts a little bit different than other cartoons at the time, but for the most part the series is boringly generic. The only thing that truly disappoints me is that they decided to go for a full on Land Before Time rip off. They could have still made a cartoon about dinosaurs and not succumb to so much obvious plagiarism, but the fact that they did deeply saddens me. I can’t look at this show without thinking about that, and perhaps that is it’s biggest downfall.
Join me next time as I do a mini review of a movie that’s equally weird but boasts a lot more creativity, We’re Back : A Dinosaur Story.