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You could do a lot worse than let your kid watch "Dinotrux"

Lulabelle is old enough now to consciously make choices, which is an endlessly fascinating thing to see.  Case in point: Dinotrux.

This is an animated series on Netflix about a bunch of sentient dinosaur-shaped trucks / robots who work together to build things.  The main character is a T-Rex with a wrecking ball tail, which he uses to smash rocks apart so that his friends - such as a crane/brontosaurus or a wrench/lizard - can take the pieces and refashion them into new buildings or devices.

I have no idea why Lulabelle wanted to watch it in the first place.  Well, that's not totally fair.  I kinda know.  We have her room stuffed full of dinosaur toys and dinosaur books, so we were stacking the deck like that.  But why did she want to watch the dinosaur robots instead of one of literally dozens of other dinosaur shows?  You got me.  Lulabelle is her own person with her own internal logic about what looks good and what doesn't.  It'll be neat to see what she picks as she gets older.

Anyway... Dinotrux.  We've watched the whole series at this point.  (Lots of early evening, pre-bed, "I'm too tired to deal with kids" breakdowns.)  And I'm pleased to report that it's actually a pretty fun watch.

Keep it in context, of course.  I'm not advising that other thirtysomethings without kids go dig it up.  But if you do have kids, and if you want to keep them occupied for twenty minutes while you take a breather, this is a pretty good choice.

It has all the things you want from a kids' show:

  • Nobody has an obnoxious voice.
  • The catchphrases aren't annoying.
  • The animation and music are well-done.
  • There's a pervasive "let's overcome our differences and work together" message throughout.
  • There are lady dinosaurs who do as much building / cool stuff as the guy dinosaurs.
  • Every now and again, there's something that's actually legitimately funny for adults.

What's really impressive to me is that the show has a decent amount of continuity from one episode to the next.  It opens with the main T-Rex befriending a tiny lizard, and even though one is scared of the other, they become friends.  Then they gradually make more friends even though the different species usually don't hang out with each other.

Then in the next episode they decide to build a new home in a particularly fertile land.  But they're exposed to the elements, so they work together to build a garage where they can live.  Then in the next episode, they make improvements to the garage.  And so on, and so on.  For a show that's so heavily focused on building things and working together, they actually do a great job of expanding their universe likewise - by the end of the first season, they've got the foundation of a new town well under way.

I guess that doesn't sound all that impressive, but let's be honest - if you were pitching "robot dinosaurs" as the premise for your show, you could get away with pretty much anything.  Dinotrux takes an easy concept and actually turns it into a well-realized universe.  They could've just given us a peanut butter sandwich on white bread, but instead they gave us almond butter and fig jam on toasted multigrain at no additional cost.  Thanks, Dinotrux!

The one major drawback... and this one is pretty major... is that it's got a farting stegosaurus.  Now, I know that sounds funny on paper.  I'm sure the writers all patted their backs for that one.  But as it turns out, a character whose sole note is "GAH SOMETIMES I FART" wears out his welcome pretty quickly.  I think the showrunners realized this because they tone him back pretty quickly; he farts like maybe a dozen times in his first two episodes and then they mostly just refer to him being gassy after that.

So, yeah, if you don't mind the occasional bad fart joke, I recommend this one.  If you're on the fence, watch the first episode and then check out the one with the Ikea-themed dinosaurs named Otto.  That's the one that sold me.

My Rating: 4 / 5