Back in early February or late January I saw a television commercial (probably during last year’s NFL playoffs), previewing some crazy-ass new show featuring 21st century people (humans) being menaced by dinosaurs. I had no idea what the hell this show was about, but I was damn excited to check it out.
No such TV show ever appeared.
This last week, while again watching football, I saw another ad for this same TV show. Apparently scheduled to start up at the end of the month (appears the thing might have experienced some shooting problems through most of 2011).
The show will be on Fox, a station that has managed to put out some quality fiction shows over the years (The Simpsons, Firefly, Arrested Development, the first season or two of 24), many of which they completely mishandle and wreck/cancel (Firefly, Arrested Development). The prospect of a decent (if quickly cancelled) series is a real possibility, but who knows...TV execs often make decisions that are a complete mystery to me; chucking good, creative art in exchange for the most insipid and ridiculous of “reality TV.”
That’s probably one of the reasons I’m not a wealthy business tycoon. Anyway…
Called Terra Nova it has an interesting premise that blah-blah-blah HUMANS VERSUS DINOSAURS!
That’s really all you need to know. Well, all I need to know anyway.
I love most anything that mixes “modern man” with dinosaurs…it’s just one of my favorite pulp fantasies. Peter Jackson’s King Kong, the first Jurassic Park book/movie (before the Goldblum character got resurrected…wtf?), S.M. Stirling’s Sky People novel, all those lost/hollow world kind of movies, not to mention the Hollow Earth Expedition (HEX) Role-Playing Game (though why does it have to have Nazis, dammit).
I don’t know why I dig it so much. As a kid, Land of the Lost was definitely one of the weirdest/coolest TV shows on Saturday Mornings (at least with the original cast). I still love the premise of the show and would love to do something with it (what exactly? Who knows…).
Also as a kid, I remember reading old Turok Son of Stone comics. Back in Montana, my uncles weren’t too much older than me (maybe 10 to 15 years) and there were always old comic books of a “non-superhero” variety laying around: The Two-Gun Kid, Sergeant Rock, the Unknown Soldier, Turok, House of Mystery, Dracula, etc.
Turok was about an American Indian and his younger brother (?) who had somehow been transported to prehistoric times where, duh, they were often hunting or running from dinosaurs. I don’t remember any of the specific stories/plots from my childhood, I just remember being very taken with the illustrations, even (or especially) non-action ones: a half page image of Turok and his brother over-looking a bluff, watching a herd of honkers grazing in a pastoral valley, for example. Things like that.
The last couple years I spent a lot of time looking for old issues of the awesomely illustrated Xenozoic Tales (author: Mark Schultz). I had finally given up when I happened across the recently published trade paperback collecting every issue into a single volume. It took me a few days to read it cover to cover, but the thing is a real work of art, with beautiful story, pacing, characterization, and illustration.
[I’ll talk more about Xenozoic…and its associated RPG…in a later post]
No, I really don’t know what it is about the mix of people and dinosaurs that get me juiced; it’s just one of those things like Vikings/axes and sand-and-sandal fantasy that tends to fire my imagination. Dinos are just so HUGE and monstrous (always depicted with big, sharp teeth) and the idea of hunting them so ridiculously foolhardy…I mean it can’t result in anything but crazy heroics (or digested heroes).
Strangely, I almost never use dinosaurs or lost world tropes (Neanderthals, ape-men, etc.) in my D&D games, B/X or otherwise. The Isle of Dread is the only “dino-sanctuary” I’ve ever depicted in the game, and then but rarely. For whatever reason, the thought of fighters in plate mail attacking a T-Rex with his trusty magic sword just seems wrong.
But modern day heroes (18th century and later)? That seems the perfect protagonist for a dinosaur-infested campaign. Silly perhaps, but that’s just me.
I would love a good pulpy game that pitted dinos against heroic player characters. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find such a game (more on that in a latter post, too).
All right, all right. I've got some stuff to take care of right now. Perhaps more dino-stuff later.