Nothing I could say to preface this show would prepare you for it. I went into this show completely blind, not knowing a single thing about it and I was not prepared for what I saw. I simply can’t think of a good way to get you ready for what I’m about to talk about. All I can say is, I was looking for something new and I found it. Oh, BOY, did I find it. Dino Squad.
You have to understand, I’m a child of the 90s. I can buy 5 teenagers with attitude being recruited by a giant floating head to save the world. I can buy mutated turtles living in the sewers and learning martial arts from a rat. To really get into this show, you need to be willing to accept a lot of stupid, nonsensical things very quickly. I’m serious here. To really sit down and enjoy this show, you have to be willing to “go with the flow.” I’m about to go into the story of the show. Keep what I just said in mind.
Five teenagers on a field trip take a swim in a lake that’s infested with some kind of toxic sludge. When they come out, they realize they have the ability to turn themselves into dinosaurs. They are recruited by their teacher, a velociraptor millions of years old who has the ability to turn into a human and has some sort of psychic powers, to stop the plot of the evil Mr. Veloci, the evil counterpart to the teacher. Mr. Veloci has plans to rid the world of all humans by turning all animals into dinosaurs.
This show reeks of 90s cheese. If you need proof of that, just read that description again. I’m convinced that, although this came out in 2007, it was made in the 90s and delayed for a long time. More proof would be the formula. Teenagers with super powers are a large part of the TV shows kids had in the 90s. The delivery of the exposition is very stilted, the voice acting isn’t quite right, and there’s even bad 90s pop rock every time the teenagers turn into their monstrous forms. All of this just screams 90s for me.
Anyway, aside from the 90s factor, this show looks pretty good. The dinosaurs look awesome when they’re on screen. The action (what little of it was in this episode) was pretty good, though I expected more from dinosaurs than just swimming. I like the designs for the humans, especially the teacher, Ms. M. The designs for the kids are pretty basic and they wear their personalities on their sleeves.
Speaking of the teens, they all feel like they’re tropes from the 90s too. The roller skating girl, the big guy with a heart of gold, the grunge teen with an “I don’t care” attitude, the “I’m too good for this” preppy guy, and Mr. Generic Von Team Leader. They’re all present and accounted for. That’s not to say they’re boring characters. They just didn’t feel very original to me.
In the end, this felt like a 90s show, plain and simple. The story is nonsensical, the main characters are generic teens, it has a need for “extreme action.” It even has the obsession the 90s had with dinosaurs. I don’t care when this show actually came out. If it sounds like I’m calling this a bad thing, it’s not. If this show didn’t have that semi-nostalgic feel to it, nothing in it would work. For me, the only driving factor for me to watch this show is that it feels so familiar. If you read all of this article and understand my meaning of 90s nostalgia, you’ll probably like this show. I’m definitely gonna keep watching. Right after I watch Jurassic Park, of course. I don’t know why, but I have the sudden urge to watch it…
PS: One of the first shots of this cartoon is a helicopter shaped like a raptor’s head. When you watch this show, that’s the kind of thing you’re in for. If that doesn’t sell you on this show, I don’t know what will.