Looking Back On… Dink: The Little Dinosaur & Land Before Time Continuity
As a kid I couldn’t get enough dinosaurs so it was obvious that I loved The Land Before Time but this was during the time before all those sequels came out and I wanted more and I caught re-runs of this show that seemed like an animated show of the land before time. But even as a kid I used to find this show super boring as it looked too 80s for my 90s attitude and no matter how many times I watched it I just couldn’t get into it. So how does this Little Foot rip-off fare after I watched everything the Land Before Time Franchise had to offer? But more importantly, can this be a part of the continuity?
Dink, The Little Dinosaur
Released in 1989 which is shortly after the original Land Before Time movie came out and counting how long it takes to get animated projects out I’m not so sure how much of a copy this cartoon is to the Land Before Time movie. I mean if we analyze the show it’s obviously a straight rip-off but if we take a look at the time it was released it makes it seem that many choices were likely coincidences. But yes we have a small brontosaurus named Dink and the title refers to him as “The Little dinosaurs” to further drive the point that he is just like Little Foot and he’s the leader of his group of friends and they go on adventures.
For the cast of characters we have Scat who is a small crocodile and kinda fits the same role that Petrie does in the Land Before Time. We do have a pterodactyl named Flapper but he’s a little more strong headed similar to Cera and we have Shyler who is a girl like Cera but more girly than she ever was so Flapper fits Cera’s description better. Finally we have Amber who is more mature and acts like a big sister to the rest of the group and ironically we got a character just like her two decades later in the tv series for the Land Before TIme named Ruby, even her name is somewhat similar. Finally we have Crusty an old turtle who kinda feels like the parents in that he gives advice and whatnot.
That’s not where the differences end, we also see that there is a safer place to live in, in this world sort of like a Great Valley and most of the setting of the show is in what would seem like the Mysterious Beyond. The carnivores are often referred to with other names like in the land before time and they sometimes had their own “language” which is congruent with what the Little Foot movies did later on as well. Both franchises share plenty other smaller coincidences or maybe the film franchise took ideas and borrowed back from these cartoons since and even some voice actors worked on both shows.
As far as the continuity, all these coincidences made me think I needed to put my best efforts to make it fit in the Land Before Time timeline and there were two ways to go at it. One is to take the characters that are basically the same archetype and assume it’s Little Foot and his friends so scat was meant to be Petrie but because they didn’t have the rights they changed him same with Little Foot now being Dink the Little dinosaur. This works ok but not perfect as the characters are still different enough and well you have to pretend they are little foot and his friends. II prefer a second way to go at it: These are dinosaurs who live in TLBT universe and they just never interact with any of the characters we know from the films. This works since there are no real contradictions but there are plenty of coincidences and matching ideas in both worlds that you wouldn’t think twice if someone told you it was the same universe.
As far as the actual show well it’s a bit boring and even though the episodes are only 11 minutes they go a bit slowly, not the most exciting show even though it often had more complex stories than the land before time cartoon. While overtly kid friendly the show does have a darker tone more similar to the original Land Before time than all the sequel movie series did even if the writing was for babbies. I would only recommend it to someone like me who already watched all the Land Before Time movies or those who have nostalgia for this show. It was basically a Land Before Time cartoon two decades before there was an official one so at least it can say that and it got 2 seasons with 21 episodes total.
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