- Based on Xenozoic Tales by Mark Schultz
- Created by Screenwriter Steven E. de Souza and Mark Schultz
- Produced by De Souza Productions, Galaxy Films and Nelvana
- September 18, 1993 to January 28, 1994
- Jack Tenrec-David Keeley
- Hannah Dundee-Susan Roman
- Mustapha Cairo-Bruce Tubbe
- Kirgo-David Fox
- Governor Wilhelmina Scharnhorst-Dawn Greenhalgh
- Governor Dahlgren-Kristina Nicoll
- Governor Toulouse-Philip Williams
- Noc-Don Dickinson
- Dr. Fessenden-John Stocker
- Hammer Terhune-Ted Dillon
- Wrench Terhune-Colin O’Meara
- Vice Terhune-Frank Pellegrino
- Mikla-Lenore Zann
- Hobb (a Grith)-Don Francks
Nature has spun out of control and dinosaurs once again rule the Earth! Now Jack Tenrec, Hannah Dundee, and group of Old Blood Mechanics fight against Governor Wilhelmina Scharnhorst and Hammer Terhune and his gang to maintain the “machinato vitae”-the machinery of life.
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs was a weird Saturday morning series that came on in the early 90s and only lasted about 13 episodes. It was definitely something different and that’s why it remains in my memory. Cars and dinosaurs? In the same time period? Signed me up! That sounds like awesome and it was.
It was a Saturday morning action-adventure cartoon (when they still did those on Saturdays on network television) that also contained themes of environmentalism and a heavy helping of themes of political corruption. On the surface you got an Edgar Rice Burroughs style weekly animated adventure but wrapped up in that was a message for the kids. A bit of creativity that is often missing in entertainment then and more so today.
Jack Tenrec is the hero of the story and an Old Blood Mechanic. Apparently Old Blood Mechanics, aside from being mechanics, are also environmental guardians in this strange new world. While he could maintain the machinery of the previous civilization, he also served as the environmental conscience of the show. He understood that in this new world there most definitely had to be a balance between man’s needs and nature itself. He is aided by engineer Mustapha Cairo and ferryman Kirgo.
And that is where many of the conflict in the shows stemmed from. There was an imbalance or a wrong that negatively affected nature. Jack and his friends had to correct that.
Jack lives near The City by the Sea (NYC/Manhattan) and at the start of the series encounters Ambassador Hannah Dundee from Wasoon who is sent by her people to reestablish communication with other human outposts in an effort to rebuild civilization.
Governor Wilhelmina Scharnhorst is Jack’s main political nemesis and is one of three members of The City by the Sea’s ruling body The Council of Governors. She is less environmentally minded than Jack and does what she does to expand her own power with little thought on any negative impacts. She occasionally employs poacher Hammer Terhune and his gang who has a personal axe to grind with Jack because Jack keeps stopping him from poaching.
There is something that has been bothering me since I first decided to do this review. I thought my recollection was incorrect but now I know it was not. In the pilot episode Hannah makes her way to The City by the Sea from Wasoon. She and her party are attacked, and she runs to get help. She even tells one of her injured group that she will come back for them and then…nothing. They are not a factor in the rest of the episode nor is there a mention of them again. Poof! Gone.
The animation style here I generally do not like. It is a lot of thick lines that generally look cheap to me but not so here. It helps to give it a bit of a pulp or Edgar Rice Burroughs type vibe reflective of the comics that inspired the series.
This was a lived in the world. We learn that while there are dinosaurs zipping around though they are not always called by familiar names. The people have developed their own terminology. We have Shivets (Tyrannosaurus), Macks (Triceratops), Sandbucks (Apatosaurus), Tri-colored Sandbucks (Diplodocus), Wahonchucks (Stegosaurus), Whiptails (Nothosaurus), Threshers (Mosasaurus), Zeeks (Pteranodon), Boneheads (Pachycephalosaurus), Tree Grazers (Brachiosaurus), Hornbills (Parasaurolophus), Crawlers (Ankylosaurus), and Cutters (Allosaurus). Jack even has a young Cutter named Hermes whom he has raised since it was young.
This was a show with a message that went down easily because they were not shoving it in your face every chance they had. They did not beat you over the head. They casually slipped it in and you could walk away with something to think about or you could just simply have enjoyed a great adventure story. Either way. And that is a good show. Unfortunately it suffered from being on at around 11:30 in the morning which was a rough time slot on Saturdays back then as it was often interrupted for other programming.
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs also benefitted from being stylized in scene cuts and its music. Then just did not go a forgettable route here. That music in particular was some of the most unique of the era. I would call it kind of jazzy.
This also did not benefit from a great deal of marketing. As I recall I stumbled across this because I occasionally picked up magazines like Starlog or Comics Scene (I’m not even sure if they’re around anymore) and this was mentioned as an upcoming show in one of those.
This is something I would like to see brought back but as a feature film. I am not sure if you could quite recapture the magic of the cartoon in another cartoon, but I think this would make a fantastic feature film. The dinosaurs in the latest Jurassic Park films are amazing. People like out there car films (FF series). And political/environmental films have always been popular to be made by Hollywood and this concept has it all. Get on it Hollywood!
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs appears to be completely available (at least for now) on YouTube on Retro Reruns. It is definitely something different but something different that’s very good. This is a watch it.