TV Review: Dinosaur Train

PBS, I love you.  I have always, always loved you.  To me, you are the epitome of community, of education, of quality entertainment.  You care about my family, and when someone cares about  my family, I can’t help but care about that someone.

Now you – my readers – might think I’m being silly or a bit over-the-top, but I do truly love all things PBS, and I’m happy to say that affection extends to the newest show for their PBS Kids line-up, Dinosaur Train.

From the PBS website:

The new series embraces and celebrates the fascination that preschoolers have with both dinosaurs and trains while encouraging basic scientific thinking and skills as the audience learns about natural science, natural history and paleontology.

DINOSAUR TRAIN is seen through the eyes of Buddy, a preschool-aged Tyrannosaurus Rex. Buddy and his adoptive family of Pteranodons go for adventures on the Dinosaur Train to meet all kinds of dinosaurs in different eras and learn fascinating new facts about these incredible creatures.

Recently our family was able to view a screener of the new show, and we loved it!  The CGI animation is fantastic.  The characters are fun and funny.  The storylines are engaging and full of age-appropriate scientific information.

I should point out that we watched with some friends who have preschool-aged children, and they commented that the show may not be as interactive as some younger children might prefer.  There’s no request from the characters to “help” find letters or look for clues or solve problems/riddles.  This is something to consider.

Though perhaps less interactive than PBS Kids shows like Super Why!, the show follows along the lines of PBS Kids’ popular Sid the Science Kid, where preschoolers are led through questioning/reasoning and an exploration of facts and learning experiences.  Each 11 minute episode in the 30 minute time slot is followed by a discussion with world-renowned paleontologist Scott Sampson on topics covered in the show (note:  in the episodes we watched, “Dr. Scott” helped clarify the difference between herbivore and carnivore, and also some of the modern-day relatives of different dinosaur classes).

What I know is that my 8yo son and my 22mo old son watched the show together, and both were totally entertained.  My older son enjoyed learning about the dinosaurs, and especially watching the clips with “Dr. Scott.”  My 22mo son literally laughed out loud at some of the funny antics of the characters (and I can’t help but think the quality animation added to that pleasure).  We’ve watched the DVD screener several times already, and it has me very excited for the season to begin on September 7.

And on a semi-related note, the theme song is super catchy, evidenced by the fact that I can’t seem to get it out of my head!  All aboard the Dinosaur Train!