If the Golden Age of half-assed kids’ cartoons was the early ‘80s, then I would like to dub the latter half of the’90s to be the Silver Age. It was a time when animators would throw syndicated crap into children’s eyes after school to see what stuck, and almost none of it did. Half of these half-assed series were about anthropomorphic animals in hopes of replicating the massive success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but even as a rip-off of their reptilian descendants, the Extreme Dinosaurs are terrible. Also, they met Santa.
I’m well aware a great many terrible cartoons have featured guest appearances by Santa, but usually he’s just... Santa. Extreme Dinosaurs manages to take this very simple idea and make it unnecessarily weird and dumb.
First, a little rundown on Extreme Dinosaurs, which is not just the title of the show but also their team name, which is frankly embarrassing. Beginning as regular ol’ dinosaurs, they were abducted by an alien criminal who turned them into half-dino, half-man warriors. When the Extreme Dinosaurs rebelled, the alien grabbed another group of dinosaurs called the Raptors. I have absolutely no idea how the timeline works here but now they all live on modern-day Earth and fight each other, mainly because the Raptors want to cause global warming. Also, the EDs live in a dinosaur museum in the barren wastes of Arizona, which is run by a man named—and I am not making this up—Pork.
Bad Rap, the leader of the Raptors, has his crew head to the North Pole, where they plan to place sonic disruptors things in the ground that will somehow melt the ice. Meanwhile, a completely different signal has begun emitting from the North Pole, and T-Bone the T.Rex leads the Extreme Dinosaurs off to investigate—but not before some member of Pork’s family drops off his son, Matt, while he works until Christmas. Matt is extremely bitter he’s behind abandoned at a derelict museum, I think justifiably so, and thus has no Christmas spirit. (He is also completely unfazed by the sight of talking dinosaur men.) In an act of unfathomable child endangerment, Pork sends Matt to the North Pole with a bunch of dinosaurs because “he could use a little adventure.”
The signal leads the Dinosaurs to an airplane hangar which does not house an airplane but does contain Klaus Nicholas, a sonar? radar? technician? researcher? who is absolutely Santa Claus. As you will read, he makes no effort to hide his magical powers and offers absolutely no explanation as to what the hell he’s doing in this research station. But he’s apparently summoned the EDs to investigate some alarms that have been repeatedly going off, the cause of which turns out to be the Raptors placing their disrupters into the ground.
Santa instantly knows what the Raptors are doing, and tells the Extreme Dinosaurs he can block the disrupters’ signal if he gets one of the devices. And when Matt tries to tag along with the EDs, Santa distracts him with a cup of hot cider, which he knows is Matt’s favorite. Because he’s Santa. Communications technology Santa.
The Dinosaurs snowboard over to the Raptors and have some light fisticuffs which involve Bad Rap somehow finding his own snowboard off-screen. Then he gets bored with the fight and activates several Cyber-Raptor robots, which he buried deep in the ice instead of having on hand, primarily so the animators didn’t have to draw them as much. The Raptors escape… for about 60 seconds, only for the Extreme Dinosaurs to find them again. Then the Raptors instantly hit them with a freeze ray, and escape again.
Now, back in Santa’s research station, several completely batshit things happen. The first half-point thing is this conversation that arises when Santa’s dog appears:
Santa: Mmm. You like dogs, don’t you?
Matt: Yeah, but my dad won’t let me have one.
Santa: Well, pets are a lot of work.
Matt: That’s what he says. And being a second parent and all.
Santa: That is a lot of work. Your father probably has his hands full just trying to raise you.
I assure you, the other half-point is coming. The second full point is Santa’s advice when Matt sees the Extreme Dinosaurs freezing to death in an arctic storm:
Matt: They’re going to freeze out there. It’s too cold for them!
Santa: Your friends are very resourceful. Have faith in them. I do.
The Extreme Dinosaurs are literally unconscious and buried under ice at this point. Luckily, at this point, the storm stops and the sun comes out, reviving them. Now, did Santa magically affect the weather? Very possibly, but whether by luck or semi-divine intervention, the Extreme Dinosaurs did not escape under their own power, and thus Santa’s faith in them was entirely misplaced. In fact, once freed, the Dinosaurs warm up by eating salsa, which is not how anything works.
The EDs find the Raptors by the hanger, just as they’ve placed their last sonic disrupter and are about to hit the detonator. But when Bullzeye the Pteradon manages to snatch the detonator, Bad Rap grabs Matt from the research station as a hostage, a cunning move made more impressive that Bad Rap did not and could not know Matt was there. He shouldn’t have even known Matt existed.
Bad Rap offers to trade Matt for the detonator, so T-Bone tosses it over, dooming billions of people to a wet death. Intriguingly, Bad Rap simply doesn’t give Matt back, and no one comments on this—not even Santa, who has used his tech skills to somehow block the detonator’s signal. The frustrated Bad Rap then kidnaps Matt, escaping on a snowmobile that has never once been shown before, and when the Extreme Dinosaurs start to give chase, insane Santa moment number three occurs: Santa stops them from attempting to rescue the child.
Here’s what Santa says: “He’ll be okay now that he’s learned to believe in people.” Then: “The boy will be back in an hour. He’s thinking positive! I suggest you do the same.” Ignoring the fact that this Santa can see the goddamned future, this is utterly terrible advice for a kidnap victim or their loved ones. Also, please take a moment to pity the poor children of the ‘90s, who suddenly discovered themselves watching a cartoon where the main heroes were sitting around doing nothing.
Santa is correct, of course. The Raptor named Haxx returns Matt right on time to give Santa a letter—his Christmas wishlist, of course, perhaps having been convinced by Matt that anthropomorphic dinosaurs who do good deeds shortly after trying to murder the vast majority of homo sapiens get presents. The wild thing is that Haxx does. Santa ends up giving the dino-terrorist exactly what he wanted, which was a baby tarantula. Also, please note Matt’s belief in people didn’t free him; it was a bribe.
But that’s merely wild. It’s not insane. The remaining half a point of insanity arrives Christmas morning when Matt gets his own present from Santa: a dog.
Yes, despite the wishes of Matt’s dad, and even after recognizing the difficulties and workload that come with being a single parent, this motherfucker gives Matt a dog anyway.
To the animators’ credit, Matt’s dad seems as betrayed as one might expect, although he tries to put on a cheerful face as Matt promises to take care of his new pet, a vow he will likely break in months if not weeks, forcing deal or dad to scoop the poop of the creature he never wanted in his life in the first place. Ho ho ho, everybody! Merry Christmas!
So, according to Extreme Dinosaurs, your holiday lessons are as follows:
- A positive attitude can help you escape kidnappers.
- One small, good deed completely negates attempted genocide.
- Making life harder for single parents is its own reward.
I’d tell you all to give yourself the present of never watching an episode of Extreme Dinosaurs, but I prefer not to give gifts people already have.
- Bullzeye asks Santa if he can pull his sleigh on Christmas Eve, to which the right jolly old sonar technician agrees. But as you can see above, the TV news discovers Santa’s sleigh on radar, on which Santa is obviously missing. Did he fall out or voluntarily jump? Please discuss.
- When arriving at the hangar, Matt approaches a computer, sits, and exclaims, “Cool game!” As Santa immediately points out, this is not a game but a collection of live security feeds. Matt is an idiot and this episode was written by half-drunk 40-year-old men who didn’t understand what video games are.
- The voice actor for Spittor the Raptor performs him with a Peter Lorre accent, and I hate it.
- When the Extreme Dinosaurs express sadness that they must wait another year for Christmas, Bullzeye yells “Kwanzaa starts tomorrow!”, throws red, green, and black confetti in the air, and starts laughing hysterically. As God is my witness, I have absolutely no idea how to feel about this.
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