With people flocking to witness the latest entry into the “Jurassic Park” series, it is an important time to reflect upon dinosaurs. Too many people are idly shoveling popcorn in their mouths, half enjoying passable CGI reptiles and keeping up with a good-enough plot, and too few people are really reflecting on the now extinct monstrous lizards.
Unlike Robert Pollard circa 1994, I am not a scientist, so I can’t hold anyone rapt with a flood of paleontological information. However, I have wasted the first couple of decades of my young life in a variety of ways, so I can empirically rank things that happened in popular culture.
This is my definitive ranking of pop culture dinosaurs.
10. The Baby from “The Dinosaurs:” This loud-mouthed, ill-tempered infant dinosaur was the breakout character from one of the final projects Jim Henson ever helmed. While I am completely on board with a mildly amusing, completely grating character such as the puppet known as Baby Sinclair, it utterly fails as a dinosaur. It’s small, it isn’t fierce, and it retroactively tainted the legacy of Henson. Easy call for my bottom entry.
9. The T-Rex from Peter Jackson’s “King Kong:” King Kong literally grabbed the king of the dinosaurs’ jaws and forced them open until they snapped. As someone who watched a few episodes of “The Crocodile Hunter,” I’m aware that alligators and crocodiles can have their mouths held in place with electrical tape, because they open their mouths with minimal force, but then deliver bone-shattering bites. This is a poor showing. Plus, by the transitive property, this dinosaur lost in battle to Adrian Brody.
8. The Dinosaur from “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was): Ostensibly walking the dinosaur was a dance one should perform after opening the door and getting on the floor. However, what that meant was never entirely clear. This song was later embarrassingly included in the movie “Super Mario Brothers” and its cheesy, blaring horns were clear inspiration for the abhorrent recent hit “Uptown Funk.” The titular dinosaur should feel shame every day of its hypothetical, waking existence.
7. Dino from “The Flintstones:” Dino filled the role of the modern stone-age family’s lovable mutt. He was an energetic, affectionate analogue for a canine, who never failed to greet Fred with barks and a forceful pounce. However, Dino was first introduced as a wise-cracking, Bugs Bunny-esque character, who eludes would-be Snorkasaurus hunters Barney and Fred. Ultimately, Dino is captured and is shown performing household chores and answering the telephone. After this episode, Dino was forever presented in his more iconic dog-like role. After one-too-many wisecracks, Fred probably lobotomized Dino with his club. Dino is less caveman’s best friend than a prehistoric Randle McMurphy. His tragically reduced mental capacity makes Dino a bottom-tier dinosaur.
6. Every Dinosaur, especially Little Foot’s Parents, from “The Land Before Time:” “The Land Before Time” was a VHS staple for me growing up, but every character in it is admittedly obnoxious. Unlike every other dinosaur, the plucky gang of adolescent dinosaurs rampage or do anything otherwise entertaining. The protagonist of the films, Little Foot, had massive, brontosaurus parents that somehow were killed by dinosaurs roughly a quarter their size. Also, the young voice actress, Judith Eva Barsie, who provided the dialogue for the most obnoxious character, Duckie, was tragically murdered at the age of 10, so there is no catharsis to be found through snark.
5 . Barney from “Barney:” In the ’90s this purple, vaguely educational thunder lizard was ubiquitous. He was an annoying, but morally sound presence in the early development of many young adults. The positivity and educational nature balances out the obnoxiousness. This is true dinosaur neutral.
4. My office desktop computer: LOL
3. Rex from “Toy Story:” Being the standout character from a wildly successful and critically revered trilogy is really the best a green, plastic dinosaur could hope for. He would place better, but Rex clearly had less influence over his fellow toys than a slinky dog. An apex predator should always wield more authority than a dachshund made of a metal coil.
2. Pterri from “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse:” Pterri was a green pterodactyl puppet that spoke with a voice equal parts Emo Phillips, Kermit the Frog and a stroke survivor. He was one of Pee-Wee’s more obstinate housemates, and one time he pretended to run away from home by hiding under his bed. In other words, Pterri is one of the greatest television characters of all-time. He would be the top dinosaur on his list, but his lack of functionality, which was the calling card of his compatriots Globey and Chairy, sort of drag him down in comparison.
1. Godzilla: Much like Donald Trump could be our next president, other dinosaurs technically could have taken the top spot on this list. However, as is the case with the President Trump scenario, it just isn’t realistic and if, for some reason, it did happen, the world would be a much worse place.
Obviously a hard-hitting list like this is going to raise some objections, so here are some consolatory pop culture dinos. I didn’t forget them, they’re just terrible.
• The dinosaurs from “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story:” They were basically aged versions of “The Land Before Time” crew in 1993’s New York City
• Megatron from “Beast Wars:” He’s a purple robot-dinosaur and constantly says the word yes in a really discomforting way
• The T-Rex from “Tammy and the T-Rex:” The brain of Tammy’s deceased love is placed in the body of a dinosaur unintentional hilarity ensues
• Theodore Rex from “Theodore Rex:” Whoopi Goldberg fights crime with a dinosaur named Theodore.