Denver the Last Dinosaur, first aired in 1988 and it shows. It has that very strong 80’s feel that really defined all of the cartoons from the 80’s. They packed this cartoon chock full of pop cultural references. As the back of the box freely admits, it attempts to pander to all the current hot trends. We have the Skateboarding, BMX bike riding, surfer lingo, and rock n roll music.
The episode we will be taking a look at today is the episode that started it all, episode 1, the beginning. Yes, today we will learn the origins of the great Denver and see how it all came to be.
The adventure starts with our four friends, Wally, Mario, Jeremy, and Shades as they make their way to the museum. Jeremy must do a report on dinosaurs and the others decide they might as well tag along. Once at the museum, they quickly get bored of the dusty, old dinosaur bones and decide to go outside and do some biking and skateboarding. Meanwhile, inside the museum we are introduced to the scheming event promoter Morton Fizzback (who sounds awfully like Rodney Dangerfield to me) as he tries to buy one of the museums ancient pieces so he can use it as an attraction in a new concert. The museum curator is not happy about the offer and promptly kicks the sleezball out of the museum.
With a little time to kill outside of the museum near the tar pits, the four kids run into a bit of trouble in the form of
After their narrow escape from death the four find themselves near one of the museums tar pits. Being the wild crazy, hip guys they are they soon start talking about whether or not they could jump over the pit in a bike. Well Mario may be dumb but he is no pussy and refuses to sit around and talk about whether or not it can be done. He sets off on his bike before any of his friends can stop him. As it turns out Mario was wrong and the pit was too far to jump. But instead of falling into the sticky death of tar he slams into an egg. Now how this egg went unnoticed in a museum’s back yard may be a little hard to explain so the cartoon conveniently decides to just move along with the plot.
The egg being slammed into by the bike starts to crack open. You may be thinking to yourself, I bet there is a long dead underdeveloped dinosaur fetus in there! Well you sir would be wrong, out pops Denver, a fully grown dinosaur, of a yet unclassified type. The kids quickly warm up to the friendly dinosaur and they all decide on the name Denver. Now with their new Dino friend, it is decided that they will need to keep it safe until they can think of something to do with it. Little do they know, Morton Fizzback has been ease dropping the entire time and happens to think the dinosaur would make a great centerpiece in his "rockin’ dino road show".
This would never happen to me. I know if I found an ancient Dinosaur he sure as hell would not end up being my best friend. He would no doubt go on a death rampage and bring new horrors unto the world. But this is just MY luck and exactly why if I found and ancient egg I would leave it the hell alone.
They decide to keep Denver at Wally’s place since it seems he already has a lot of freaky pets and his parents would not even notice. Back at Wally’s place the only pets I am able to spot is Wally's dog. I guess that could be considered unusual... The kids then decide to stash Denver in Wally's pool house. With Denver now hidden safely in the pool house he decides to show the kids a little trick. It turns out the egg that Denver hatched out of is magical, and with a piece of it Denver takes the kids to see his prehistoric home. This is where they try and inject the cartoon with a little education and we are treated with pictures and details of several types of real dinosaurs, unlike the utterly phony breed that is Denver. I don’t know if the shell really was magical but I tend to think it just had some psychoactive substance on it that made them trip pretty hard. I can only imagine what it would do if you were to smoke it.
Denver is soon discovered by Wally’s sister who also seems to come to grips with the fact that there is a live dinosaur in her home awfully quickly. She then suggests that they move Denver to an old gym at school. Why do they need to move Denver again? Who knows but it moves the plot along so who cares.
The kids dump Denver in the school gym and ditch him for the night.
The next day at school the kids find that Denver has escaped the gym and is walking around the school getting into all kinds of trouble. After school they find Denver and rather than risk taking him back to the old gym, they decide to stash him under some nearby bleachers until the coast is clear. This is a grave mistake as the evil Morton Fizzback is waiting for just the right time to snatch poor Denver. The boys come back just in time to see Morton taking off with Denver. With Denver gone the kids lose hope in ever seeing him again. As they wallow in their self pity, Wally’s sister just back from the mall, has some startling news. It seems Morton has plans on using Denver in a Rock n' roll show. Now I am no dinosaur expert but you would think there would be better ways to exploit a dinosaur than to turn it into a music act but hey I will cut them some slack.
I have to hand it to Morton Fizzback. He sure as hell can slap together a concert in a hurry. After just one day he managed to pass out promo material at the mall and slap together a huge rock show in what must have been only a few hours. Now if I had a band I would want this Morton working for me. He gets shit done without screwing around.
The kids sneak into the concert determined to get good ol’ Denver back. Denver seems to really be enjoying himself on stage and does not appear to need rescuing, but the kids persist. After some not so sneaky sneaking, they are soon discovered by Morton and kicked out of the show. In the confusion Denver makes a break for it and escapes.
Unaware of Denvers escape the boys quickly give up hope once again and accept that they may never see Denver again. They head to the park to drown their sorrows in basketball, and booze (ok I made that last part up). As the boys shoot some depressed b-ball they run into the nasty gang of baddies they tangled with outside the museum. This time things don't look so good and the boys are set for an ass whooping.
As luck would have it, with his keen senses Denver is able to find his way back home and after a talk with Wally's sister Denver heads out to the park to meet up with his buddies. Denver happens upon the boys just as they are about to get a nice ass pounding. Denver being quit the pussy is first to afraid to help but soon remembers the brave tyrannosaurus and musters the courage. Denver charges the evil kids and rips them apart in one of the bloodiest scenes I have ever seen in a cartoon meant for kids (ok I made that part up too). With the gang of trouble makers scared off, Denver and kids all settle in for the group laugh that signals the end of the cartoon.
I was actually pretty surprised when I went back to watch this cartoon. It is a pretty entertaining and that is saying a awful lot when most things you remember as a kid, then go back to watch as an adult end up being total garbage. You can tell the people who made this cartoon genuinely wanted to make a good product. This is pretty rare in an industry that is geared to young kids who don’t really give a shit what they are watching, as long as it has lots of hip lingo, and BMX bikes in it.