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Prehistoric Park is a six-episode mini-series by the makers of "Walking with Dinosaurs". Impossible Productions is well known for its award-winning science series, and this is of their usual high quality.
Starring Nigel Marvin, the well-known naturalist, the series is about an effort to create a park full of dinosaurs by using time travel to recover them from the past before they became extinct. It is a docu-drama, dealing with recovering the animals and then the day-to-day problems of running the park. Looking after the animals, from medical conditions, socialisation and behavioural issues, to problems caused by diet and environment changes, brings the viewer close to them, and we learn along with Suzanne, the vet, and Bob, the head keeper, what issues and differences these creatures bring with them.
The details of time travel are glossed over, but then this series is purely about the animals. Although the science can't be confirmed (e.g. we don't know much about dinosaur socialisation), it is very well-researched and the contents are based on what scientists know or can extrapolate. The attention to detail also shows in the cast choice: Most of the cast actually do these jobs in real life. Aside from Nigel who is a well-known television naturalist, Suzanne is a vet, the elephant handlers actually are and so on. This means that the procedures you are shown as as accurate as they can be made.
The special effects are top-rate, but so is the writing and story. Although there are some moments where it is beginning to date, the series is so gripping that this is barely noticeable. The creatures are the real stars of the show. Each of the creatures has a distinct personality, ranging from Martha the Woolly Mammoth, Theo the Triceratops and even the giant centipede. The effects (a mix of animatronic and CGI) are good enough that you will believe they really are present.
Each episode is based around a specific time period, starting with the end of the dinosaurs, and covering the ice age, early dinosaurs and more. In each case, Nigel has to go back and recover the animals, exploring the environment, and then manage to lure them through the gate to the future - or run through while they chase him... Being animals, they don't always co-operate and sometimes he finds a few extras coming along, which the park isn't always equipped to cope with. The risks of the periods aren't just the animals, of course: timing jumps by known geologic events leaves them dealing with volcanic action, meteors, predators and more.
While it is aimed at younger viewers, the series can be enjoyed by the whole family. Prehistoric Park is rated PG, reasonable since although this is family viewing, some scenes may scare younger viewers. There were certainly a few that made me jump!
This is a two disc pack, containing the six episodes, and a number of special features. Each episode lasts about an hour, for a total DVD running time is 288 minutes. The features include Animal facts, storyboards, and gallery, but the best is the "Making of" program included. It discusses ideas they dropped, how the special effects were created, and the cast recruited. It also shows how some of the trickier effects were achieved when real animals, including elephants, had to interact with them.
In all this is absolutely outstanding family viewing, suitable for dinosaur and animal lovers of all ages, and definitely worth buying.
Prehistoric Park with Nigel Marven is a DVD that combines everything - science, education, time travel and fantasy. Nigel Marven is a well-known nature and wildlife expert, who has presented several shows for both children and adults - you could say he is like a British Steve Irwin! Watching this DVD, his enthusiasm for his work is evident all the time, and can be quite infectious.
The tagline for Prehistoric Park is " Extinction doesn't have to be forever..." and this is the basic idea for the show: Using computer generated imagery combined with drama (and a bit of comedy!) Nigel Marven plays a "park-keeper" with a difference - he travels back in time to collect dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, and brings them back to live in his wildlife park in the present day.
Suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the show, as along the way he also manages to educate you all about these creatures from another time, with the help of his supporting cast - Suzanne McNab, Rod Arthur, and the narrator David Jason.
Anyone who enjoyed the BBC show 'Walking with Dinosaurs' will also enjoy this, as it's a similar looking show. The technical expertise is great and the quality of the CGI is very high in my opinion - all the creatures are very realistic and convincing. The acting is perhaps slightly wooden from the humans, but that is forgiveable because it's all part of the fun and the humans are not the stars here anyway!
This DVD has a PG certificate which I think is about right: Some children that are younger or more sensitive might find some of the creatures a bit frightening, and there are a couple of scenes where the dinosaurs are fighting and blood is drawn, for example. Another example is, in one episode, it's all about prehistoric bugs, and there are some pretty horrible giant insects there that appear to try to 'attack' Nigel. Other than this, older children and adults, especially those already interested in dinosaurs, should have no problem though.
Prehistoric Park was shown on terrestrial television around 3 or 4 years ago now, as a six part series. The entire series was then released on DVD in 2006.
We paid around £15.00 for our copy when it was first released, however a quick search shows that it is currently available from a bargain £4.98 on Amazon.
There are 2 discs in one single box, and the total running time is 288 minutes - quite long , but each of the six episodes can be watched seperately of course, plus there is another half an hour of extras and special features, which are as follows:
Interactive animal stats and facts ~ 'Building the Impossible' -- the making of Prehistoric Park ~ Storyboards and Picture Gallery.
Overall I would say this is a great DVD set for all ages, and highly recommend it - especially for dinosaur lovers!