The '90s sitcom focused on the Sinclair family: Earl, Fran and their three children -- Robbie, Charlene and Baby. They were just your typical sitcom family: bumbling dad, stay-at-home wife, rebellious teen kids, etc. They just happened to be dinosaurs.
The bumbling father? Well, he was a Megalosaurus who worked a blue-collar job while his Allosaurus wife stayed at home because even 35 million years ago women had to fight to get sh-t done in the workplace. Their dino children grappled with typical teen stuff -- puberty, school and dating. And then there was Baby, who was the most BAMF on the block.
From a technical standpoint, the show was incredibly impressive. A Jim Henson Company production, "Dinosaurs" featured giant, anthropomorphic dinosaur puppets as its main cast. We repeat: dinosaur puppets. It's hard to imagine anything as quirky and innovative as that would make it on TV today.
MTV News chatted with Jacobs at the ATX Television Festival this past weekend in Austin, Texas, and we put his dino-knowledge to the ultimate test. As it turns out, Jacobs knows a lot about prehistoric times. Answers in italics.
What's you favorite dinosaur?
"I was on a plane with Bob Young, and we were on our way to the Henson creature shop in Britain," said Jacobs. "We were going to meet the clay models of the dinosaurs for the first time. And on the plane, somewhere over the ocean, I looked at Bob and said, 'The show doesn't work. It doesn't work at all.' And he said, 'Why?' I said, 'There is no audience point of view of these dinosaurs. There is no audience surrogate.' He asked what I wanted to do, and I told him I wanted to go back and rewrite the pilot and have a baby dinosaur hatch out of the egg and talk from the word 'Go.'
And Bob looked at me and said, 'Not the mama.' What does that me? He goes, 'He doesn't recognize his father all all. He only loves his mama,'" he added. "All of the sudden Baby Dinosaur was born. And I have to say, that dinosaur was my favorite because we invented him on the way to start the show -- and he gave us our show."
No, like, what's your favorite IRL dinosaur?
"Oh! Let's see. I like the Triceratops because I didn't know what the Triceratops was until we did Richfield, who was the boss," Jacobs said. "Kirk Thatcher, who was our dinosaur designer, said let's make him a Triceratops. And then I started looking up Triceratops, and it was perfect for that character."
How many horns does a Triceratops have?
"I think it's three," he said. "Tri means three." Correct!
True or false: The Tyrannosaurus rex was the biggest dinosaur ever.
"I don't think that was true," Jacobs said. "I'm not sure if it was the Brontosaurus... We had Monica Devertebrae become the female in the workplace. If you remember, Jason Alexander played Harris, who became Sexual Harris when Earl said, 'I wonder what Sexual Harris meant?' That was our 'Sexual Harris Meant' episode. I believe we wanted her to be the biggest dinosaur, but Earl's best friend, Roy Hess, who was a Tyrannosaurus rex, we just loved that he couldn't move his arms. We made him vulnerable." Wrong: The Argentinosaurus, whose bones were discovered in 1986, was the biggest dino on record.
What does the word dinosaur mean?
"Yes! I've forgotten, but I'm going to conjure it up," Jacobs said. "I'm going back years ago... it means something monster. God and the monster? I don't remember. What is it?" Wrong: The world dinosaur means "terrible lizard."
What came first: beetles or dinosaurs.
"I'm going to say beetles," he said. "I played one on the show. That was my voice. I was the Bunch Beetle at the end, Stan. I was the cause of the extinction of the entire series." Correct!
How did dinosaurs become extinct?
"There are a couple of answers to that. It depends on your source material," said Jacobs. "It's easy to say Ice Age. It's easier to say meteor. If I said to you, 'I know,' I'd be wrong because I've read so many different things. We did the finale with the metaphor for volcanic ash, which was dropping atomic bombs on the plant." Correct: There are many theories, including climate change and giant meteors, but there remains no scientific proof.
What was the Triassic supercontinent called?
"Pangea!" he said. "That's where they lived, in Pangea, and ABC was the Antediluvian Broadcast Company. And we had DNN, the Dinosaur News Network. My favorite thing was the dinosaur newscaster because I named him. Brian Henson and I had a laugh over it. He said, 'Do you really have to name him that?' And I said, 'It's just so funny!' His name was Howard Handupme. He was a hand puppet -- the baby was a hand puppet and he was a hand puppet -- so it was our little inside joke on set." Correct!