"Dinosaur Train," from The Jim Henson Company, pulls into the PBS Kids station tomorrow, Sept. 7, and the animated show invites kids to get down with their Cretaceous Period selves.
And CC did just that when we watched a couple episodes ahead of tomorrow's premiere.
Never in my life did I think I would hear my 2-year-old sing "Quadruped, quadruped, quadruped" to her own dino tune while dancing around the living room as if she had been weened on "Jurassic Park."
A good sign for the new series.
"Dinosaur Train" centers on a family of Pteranodons (te-RAN-o-dons) -- Mr. & Mrs. P, Tiny, Shiny, Don ... and an adopted dino tyke named Buddy (left, in photo) who doesn't seem to look at all like the rest of the long-beaked, flying pack.
The family goes on adventures by hopping aboard the titular train, which can take them through a "Time Tunnel" that transports them between the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. A convenient touch, which allows dinosaurs from vastly different time periods to interact with each other.
The train itself is equipped with cars that fit every dino's needs, particularly an Observation Car that allows the especially large ones plenty of head room. The Troodon conductor offers quick facts for the passengers as well as viewers.
"Dinosaur Train" creator Craig Bartlett said he wanted to combine the two things young kids love the most -- dinosaurs and trains. This, while encouraging preschoolers to learn more about natural science, natural history and paleontology.
In the pilot episode, "The Call of the Wild Corythosaurus; Triceratops for Lunch," the family surprises Mrs. P with a trip to a Corythosaurus (cor-ITH-o-saurus) concert, where the kids learn how this species of dinosaur plays music through their crests -- a large ridge on top of their heads.
"Do you have a crest?" I asked CC.
"No," she said with complete seriousness. "No crest."
"Duh, Mom. Do I look like I have a large pink musical ridge on top of my head?" I imagined her thinking. "And don't you think I'd be rocking out with it if I did?"
The second half of the episode has the family dining with their friends the Triceratops. They discover that these guys are plant-eaters, aka herbivores. The kids learn the difference between those and what they are -- carnivores.
These animated segments are then followed by some live-action time with Dr. Scott the Paleontologist, who explains various features of the episode's dinosaurs and then relates them to modern animals. For example, he compares the triceratops to a rhino, something kids can better understand.
What could be overwhelming and dry is presented in an entertaining and visually charming show that encourages kids to ask questions, and shows other children (in the form of dinosaurs) discovering more about themselves, all while navigating siblings and family life.
It's adorable, and I hope we can catch more of the show -- if only to hear CC sing another Cretaceous-themed dino ditty.
Oh, yeah, and we find out what species Buddy really is. But I don't want to spoil that for you.