First look Netflix TV review: Dinotrux (Episode 1)
Subtlety of message4
Ivan Radford | On 13, Aug 2015
“Crush it! Smash it! Move it! Lift it!” cries the theme tune for Netflix’s new animated kids’ series, Dinotrux. The show, based on the books by Chris Gall, combines all young boys’ favourite things: crushing, smashing, moving, lifting, trucks and – of course – dinosaurs.
The premises gives us the prehistoric creature-construction vehicle hybrid you’ve been waiting for, a mix of machine and monster that paves the way for all manner of wonderfully dreadful puns. This a world populated by Tyrannosaurus Trux, Scraptors and – wait for it – Tow-a-constrictors.
Our hero is Ty-Rux (Andrew Francis), who finds his valley destroyed by a volcano. Coming across another plain full of ore (the food of choice for all Dinotrux), all seems well – until a predator comes along. That’s alpha male and fellow wrecking-ball-with-metal-teeth D-Structs (Paul Dobson).
“Dinotrux don’t work together,” says the grumpy, selfish villain. “But wouldn’t it be nice if they could?” replies Ty-Rux.
Yes, for all the modern mechanics on display, Dinotrux is a resolutely old-fashioned morality tale: a place where friendship and loyalty are as important as crushing, smashing, moving and lifting. The unsubtle message behind the first episode (the only one previewed to press in advance) may turn off some, but it might pleasantly surprise others – how many shows in today’s age still celebrate old-school values? And do it while mashing up Bob the Builder’s sidekicks with the Jurassic and Cretaceous period?
The animation is similarly far from ground-breaking, with DreamWorks keeping things as basic and brightly coloured as possible – an approach matched by the introduction’s shallow script, which presents a surfer-dude-style carrier as one of Ty-Rux’s team, not to mention an aggressive bulldozer and a helpful crane. Even Francis’ determinedly optimistic voice seems vaguely one-note. But if the stock types are as dated as their historical setting, they are at least encased in creative shells: there’s an irresistible pleasure in seeing a lizard-cum-tape-measure shoot out his tongue to size up a boulder before a dino-on-rails pummels it into puny bits.
That would be Revvit, a “Reptool” (yes, really) who offers to repair Ty-Rux in exchange for another good turn. “It was an accident,” says Ty. “Bet you wish it was an accidon’t!” comes the reply. Dinosaurs, trucks and wordplay? The promise of Scrapadactyls in Episode 3 only adds to the fun.
All 14 episodes of Dinotrux: Season 1 will be available on Netflix UK from Friday 14th August