My nephews, ages three and five, are really into dinosaurs. Yes, I realize this is a strange interest for a child to have, which is why they’re my very special little snowflakes. This unique fascination has led them to become fans of a Canadian television show, aimed at kids ages two to seven, called Dino Dan.
The main character is Dan Henderson, a hideous schizophrenic child who sees poorly-rendered, neon dinosaurs everywhere he goes. He lives with his brother, Trek, and his single mother, who enables his delusions and bends household rules to accommodate them. A father is never mentioned; given the lack of familial resemblance between the three of them and the questionable mental state of the mother, who seems incapable of assuming an authoritative role, I’m inclined to think that Trek and Dan are kidnap victims taken from different families. It’s the only way to explain their incongruous names as well as the apparent variant on Stockholm Syndrome from which they all seem to be suffering. It’s possible that the brothers are the biological progeny of their mother via different fathers, but that scenario is even more disturbing, because it suggests that this woman named her own child Trek on purpose, an idea that I find too repulsive to entertain.
Dan’s teachers and friends support his fantasies as well, which leads me to believe he has a history of violence if his outrageous claims of seeing dinosaurs are challenged. It’s like that Twilight Zone episode about the telekinetic kid who assaults people if they don’t cater to his every whim.
While I am troubled by the effect this show may have on my nephews, it can be pretty hilarious. A fat kid whose favorite food is hot dogs with chocolate pudding? Where do they come up with this stuff?! Plus, Mark McKinney makes an appearance as the gym coach. Other comedians pop up from time to time as well, like Seán Cullen and McKinney’s fellow Kids in the Hall alum Kevin McDonald. There may be some more, but I can’t be sure – it’s a hard show to watch because most of the actors/characters are precocious children, which make my fallopian tubes twist themselves into knots. Usually when the boys turn it on, I go stand outside and daydream about when I used to be a smoker.
Bottom line: Awful-some. Though it makes my teeth grind, it’s a good show for kids. It teaches them about dinosaurs and introduces them to comedic treasures they probably wouldn’t learn about otherwise. It’s also set in Canada, featuring much of the country’s landscape, ensuring that this next generation will have no desire to flee north from the United States, thus keeping the future workforce at home to fuel our nation’s economy. Our nation’s crappy, crappy economy.