Looking Back On.. The Land Before Time show
Every time an annual The Land Before Time movie came out I always wondered why they didn’t just make a tv show if it was so successful, after all most of the movies felt like extended episodes and it had an audience that wanted to watch them and they could still sell DVDs of a batch of episodes. They finally got around to making a Little Foot animated show and it didn’t do very well and it never received a second season and also took down the entire Land Before Time franchise with it. So, was the show that bad to kill it or did it just come out at the wrong time?
The Land Before Time TV Series
Taking place after the 13th movie but before the 14th, we have the main cast living in the great valley, this time joined by Chomper who comes back. Chomper was such an iconic design that I was surprised he only ever came back once after his introduction and didn’t return until this show. His second appearance pretty much set him up for him to be part of the crew but luckily the tv show remedies this and adds him to the group and it works. They also add a new character named Ruby who while still young still works as a mentor for the rest and for such an abrupt addition to the group she actually meshes well with the rest of the gang. Cera, Pietrie Spike all get episode focused on them so the new cast members don’t affect the dynamics much.
The actual show does feel like a shorter version of the movies and it works out, it doesn’t usually tell the most compelling stories but at 22 minutes it really doesn’t matter since it’s over before it becomes a problem. Even so we do get a few good character moments even if the average episode is about learning a lesson like the films. Just like in all the movies there are songs in the episodes but I don’t think there are any original songs as most seem to be alterations of the catchier songs from the movies. The lyrics are changed to fit the episode but somehow this works really well, we hear songs like Go Adventuring a few different times during the season but it always feels fun and fresh. The animation is not as good as in the movies but it isn’t bad either and yes this show is aimed at a slightly younger audience than the already kid skewing movies but it’s close enough in tone.
And for those wondering about continuity well EVERY film is in continuity and that’s flippin’ awesome as we get to see Little Foot’s Sh-tty friends from previous movies return. Many of them would always mention that we’d see them again but we would never did and while not all his gimmicky friends were great many of them were good enough and even the lamer ones made a decent appearance back in the show. I think there are only like two major characters from the movies that didn’t make it in but I’m sure they would’ve if they had gotten a second season. Returning villains is something we didn’t really see and that’s a shame since while some sharpteeth were rather generic others deserved to have another appearance.
This show did introduce its own Big Bad sharptooth with Red Claw and man does he look vicious and easily the coolest carnivore the series ever saw that could even rival the original T-Rex of the first film. Sadly he’s wasted in the TV series since the cartoon didn’t let him have any awesome moments besides maybe his introduction. He has two Utahraptor lackeys named Screech and Thud who end up doing most of the slapstick type villain tactics which ruins the presence of Red Claw but at the very least means he suffers from less villain decay.
Overall the TV show is rather decent and what I would’ve expected from a Land Before Time animated show even if it doesn’t do anything too exciting it continues the spirit of the movies rather well. Sadly the cartoon was not the success it was meant to be and while they did use a compilation of episodes as different DVD releases it didn’t get a second season and we didn’t get another movie until many years later when Jurassic World came out. The best part about the series is it embraced all those sequels that were released instead of ignoring them which was the easy way out.
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