I’m a nerd. This is well documented. That being said, a TV show about time travel and dinosaurs and guns should have been right up my alley, and for a while, FOX’s Terra Nova was. The show lost steam, got caught up in its own plotlines, and was cancelled just as it was beginning to show signs of life, prompting dozens of extinction jokes. Netflix – our best friend for our A Theater Near You (TNU) column - has tossed around the idea of resurrecting the show, but I’m not holding my breath. But if they do bring this bad boy back, I’ll be plenty glad, because, as I’ve said a million times before, there need to be more Latinos on TV, and Terra Nova featured a Latin villain. The villain wasn’t human, but hey, Louis CK is Mexican, so let’s try to be a little more open minded.
Let me introduce you to a rising star making waves in science fiction features. His name is Carnotaurus sastrei, and he’s from Argentina.
Carnotaurus was discovered by prolific Argentine paleontologist José Bonaparte in Patagonia in 1985, and its weird appearance has kind of made it the go-to in recent years for when people get tired of T-Rex: “Everyone does the Tyrannosaurus rex,” they say, “we need a new dinosaur to make toys of!” Enter Carnotaurus, with its weird, bulldog-y head, horns, and tiny little arms to the rescue. It first really made a pop-cultural impact with Michael Crichton’s 1995 novel The Lost World, which was the sequel to his earlier Jurassic Park (1989). Five year’s later, Disney released Dinosaur, which similarly featured Carnotaurus as a villain and is what really launched the guy into the popular consciousness. He’s not as well known as Velociraptor quite yet, which Dinosaur also featured – no doubt they featured the big name to bring in audiences for the plucky young star. Kudos to the movie, which takes place in North America, for having a character mention that Carnotaurus doesn’t usually come this far North. The big guy makes an appearance around 1:50.
A whole bunch of toys, video games, and books later, Carnotaurus finally made his TV debut in late 2011 on FOX’s ill-fated Terra Nova – which, I imagine, takes place entirely in prehistoric South America, though it’s never stated. Maybe Netflix will pick the show up, but the actors involved have already started shopping around for other work. I’m sure Carnotaurus has a couple of offers on the table as we speak – there’s reportedly another Jurassic Park movie in the works, and through Terra Nova he’s already got an in with Spielberg – and we’ll see more of this handsome, reptilian Latino in the future. Personally, I’d like to see him tango, maybe with fellow Argentine screen star Berenice Bejo…