Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Opinions on the NOVA Spinosaurus Documentary.

So, I just finished watching the new Spinosaurus documentary on PBS titled "Bigger than T. rex". I decided to post a review of the documentary on Facebook from the notes I took. It ended up getting so long that it could take up a blog post. As such, here it is:

My thoughts on the NOVA Spinosaurus documentary:

-Saw an ad for the museum I work at prior to the start of the show. Tis a good sign.
-Still don't like the title. People need to be more creative with their titles. Why does everything need to be compared to T. rex for Pete sake?
-Typical promising NOVA opening. Draws you in and gets you in the mood quickly.
-CAMELS!!! I love Camels.
-Peter Dodson's comparison of Spinosaurus to Nessie immediately brought this to mind:
-They say something about flesh-eating Mesozoic birds being found in the Sahara. If somebody knows about this and cares to explain it, please do, because I have no idea what they're talking about...
-The typical NOVA animations and reenactment scenes really fit the mood. Just my personal opinion.
-I don't think I really understood exactly how crazy the re-tracking of this specific fossil hunter was until I watched this. Nizar really did have some awesome luck going for him.
-Camel playing with a coke bottle. I can't tell if this is brilliant product placement, or they were short 5 seconds of footage and decided to give a camel a coke bottle and record what happens to fill it up. Either way, I approve.
-I just noticed this, but Spinosaurus as a species has been referred to as a "he" multiple times in the documentary so far. Why? Were there no female Spinosaurus or something? Is that why they're extinct?
-Just wanted everyone to know, I called this predators in Kem Kem ate fish thing first:
-Me: Please explain your methods!
*Never explains methods.*
Me: Dammit...
-Stop saying birds are dinosaur's "closest living relatives". Just say they ARE dinosaurs! It makes us museum interpreters' lives so much easier.
-Bubba is the most calm Alligator I've ever seen. I want to hug him.
-I still don't think everyone agrees the sail looked like that, but, whatever...
-Sereno says briefly something about Spinosaurus having the most massive forearms of any dinosaur. Er, Deinocheirus? Therizinosaurus? Heck, go outside of theropods and point out Brachiosaurus! Why do they get no love?
-Again, not everyone agrees with the quadrupedal thing, but, whatever...
-The animated life-model doesn't look anything like the mount. I mean, it's got long legs, short forelimbs, etc. Doesn't look anything like what Ibrahim et. al. have stated.
-The feeding animation at the end was a disappointment. I wanted to see a Spinosaurus dive and swim after fish. Instead you saw it swim for 2 seconds, then it skipped a scene and went to heron-fishing... That's not what I signed up for!
-"Spinosaurus makes sense." Tell that to all the scientists who are still scratching their heads while waiting for the monograph!
-Ok, I get that Spinosaurus has a lot of history behind it, and this discovery is certainly a major step in our understanding of it, but they give off this vibe at the end like that this is the end of Spinosaurus' journey and we know everything we can know. I'm sorry, but no. There's certainly a lot more to learn from this, and this is going to be talked about and reviewed over for years to come. Don't tell us this is all over when we're still waiting for a proper description of these remains!

Anyways, all in all, a decent watch. It didn't teach me anything I didn't already know, but I recommend everyone watch it at least once for typical NOVA documentary goodness. Still, I would've liked to see more Spinosaurus though. Throughout the whole thing I was getting a Godzilla 2014 vibe of wanting to see more of the actual star through computer animation, but we only really got to see it in full during the last 10-ish minutes (probably less). Plus, when we finally got to the actual fishing behavior, it was incredibly dull and disappointing. Eh, at least it was 100x better than Monster's Resurrected.

Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to be waiting quietly in the corner for the Spinosaurus monograph we've been promised. Cheers!


  1. Hi Tristan - I missed the show because I was looking for it on the nat geo channel but it does not look like I missed much. Question: was the animation the same stuff that was partially released earlier with the emaciated looking spino quad walking and grinning at a carch? Anyways I think NOVA puts all their docs online so I will keep an eye out for it. Thanks for review.

    Duane Nash

  2. So when do you think they're going to do a proper, "in the wild" type of documentary/movie with the Kem Kem beds? Heck, or even just an actual "Walking with Dinosaurs" revamp with new environments... I'd personally love it, and I'm sure many others would, but do you think it would actually make headway in light of the publicity disaster that last year's "Walking with Dinosaurs" turned out to be?