Dinosaurs-Viewing Kids Probably Sure Had A Lot Of Questions About 'The Mating Dance'
Watching Earl Sinclair try to 'woo' Fran in Season 1 of Dinosaurs was awkward, especially because he was lacking a solid pair of pants. Let's get into it.
When Dinosaurs first came out in 1991, there was a big question: is this show for kids, or adults? Kids, right? I mean, they're Jim Henson puppets, and the baby says hilarious stuff, and hits things with frying pans! Kid humor for sure.
But actually, the show dug way deeper than kitchen appliance violence. Most of the show found a way to humorously handle "adult themes" and sensitive topics, like sexual harassment and drug use, and it totally went over our young, soft heads when we were watching it live. That's good in one sense, since it means that the show is still enjoyable on a whole different level today.
Except for Season 1, Episode 2. That one is still a little awkward. Because the plot focuses on sexually satisfying your wife.
The episode starts with poor Fran looking absolutely exhausted after staying up late to put Baby to bed. When morning hits, she gets sassed at by her two other kids, as well as Earl. Earl is extremely upset that Fran didn't make time to sew a button on one of his shirts, which he lovingly asked her to do last night. Fran snaps, and Earl is all like, "Whaaaaat?"
Eventually, Earl asks for advice from his work pal Roy, who earlier witnessed Fran charging at Earl with a kitchen knife. (Roy's response to this, for the record, is simply to walk away, proving that Roy is somewhat of an unreliable friend.) The two waste time at work pondering what Fran's problem might be, coming to the conclusion that Fran is "broken."
Earl admits that Fran's unhappiness started from after the baby was born. Maybe she needs some time off? "If she needs some time off, then who looks after the kids?" Roy asks. Plan aborted! Wait, no: after a long pause, genius Roy suggests that Earl look after the kids, and Earl reluctantly agrees.
Of course, this doesn't go well. Fran walks back in to find the kitchen on fire, noting that she was unhappy being away. "It's not the kids," says Fran. "Earl, there's something wrong in my life, and I don't know what it is." (It's Earl.)
Instead of discussing the issue then and there, Earl decides to blow off some steam at the bar with Roy. Roy suggests that maybe Earl has been stalling with his mating dance. What's a mating dance, you might wonder? In Roy's words, it's the "ultimate expression of a male's absolute commitment to a female," adding that he "does it three or four times a week." With that, we can never look at Roy the same way ever again. (For the record, Roy hasn't been in a real, lasting relationship throughout the series.)
That night, Fran angrily goes off to bed after watching a news report about the failure to mate two male cavemen. Perfect timing, since that means Earl can catch this important, topical commercial alone.
Oh yes -- there's a school that helps you learn the mating dance. Even worse, the announcer mentions that it's great to teach these steps to young dinosaurs for "after the prom." The school is located at the heart of the seedy part of town. Earl gets off his couch immediately to meet up with Mel Luster, to practice his sexy bending and twirling.
Mel has an animatronic hot girl dinosaur named Marilyn who gives him a score. "Oh, I can spend the rest of my life with you!" Marilyn moans. (Anyone else a little concerned that Mel Luster sounds a lot like, I don't know, a dino-pedophile? Again, a fact that we totally missed as young kids in the early '90s.)
Earl goes back home, waking up his wife so that she can see his mad skills. And what follows? The most uncomfortable few moments TGIF has ever seen.
Earl grunts and swirls, trying so hard to make his moves pop. But instead of "curing" Fran, Fran makes a face similar to the one all the parents in the audience were making.
By the time Earl finishes, Fran is asleep. But it's okay, since now he knows his mating dance is a surefire way to put people asleep -- including Baby. Again: if you think hard about this one, it's gross. "That was just a baby dance!" Earl says to Fran, after she walks in and is equally perturbed. Turns out, the best mating dance in Fran's eyes is Earl actually getting off his ass to help her out. The two head to bed, presumably to have sex.
While the dance itself isn't sexual (no crotch thrusts) the noises that came out of Earl's mouth while performing such a ritual are, without a doubt, the worst sounds a puppet could make. A Jim Henson puppet, at that!
The rest of the show is great -- especially the last one, which is still one of the smartest series finales I can think of. But Earl's awkward, clumsy, dinosaur moves will always be ingrained in our minds.