Dec. 8 – Dinosaurs “Refrigerator Day”

Original Air Date: December 11, 1991

Proving you can do a holiday special for pretty much anything…

The early 90’s was a great time for “kids” TV shows: Animaniacs, Ren and Stimpy, Doug,  Rocko’s Modern Life, Batman: The Animated Series and, of course, The Simpsons (among others) helped to establish a benchmark of quality programming that some believe is yet to be beaten.

Honey, I’m Home!”

In 1991, we were gifted with Dinosaurs. Although it aired the year after Jim Henson’s death, his influence is clear. In an interview  Brian Henson-Jim’s son- said Jim Henson came up with the basic concept about three years before (1987/1988). “He wanted it to be a sitcom with a pretty standard structure, with the biggest differences being that it’s a family of dinosaurs and their society has this strange toxic life style.” Thus, the Sinclair family was born.

Center stage at Disney World

In another interview Alex Rockwell- an executive at the Henson Company- said it was seen as a crazy idea before a certain yellow family hit the airwaves.  Yes, that’s right. We have The Simpsons to thank for Dinosaurs being aired. As a Jim Henson fan I like to think Henson’s idea came first. After all, Jim Henson had the concept of Dinosaurs in 1987 whereas Matt Groening literally pulled The Simpsons out of his ass at the last minute in a bid to keep ownership of his previous work, Life in Hell. So in this regard Dinosaurs is not the imitation of The Simpsons that it was made out to be.

Totally not the ripoff

Sadly, despite what became cult popularity and excellent animatronics, low ratings meant the show as well as the planned TV movie were cancelled halfway through season four.

With the show cancelled, one question remained. How will it all end? The answer is rather chilling. When the WESAYSO Corporation (Earl Sinclair’s place of business) destroys the breeding ground of a species to build a wax fruit factory it sets off a chain of events that leads to Earl being tasked with saving Dinosaur kind.

Totally worth it

Faced with a difficult task, Earl overcame adversity, saved the species and learned a very important lesson on the way. Wait no. That’s wrong. Earl caused the Ice Age.

Not that one

The final image of the season finale still haunts me, as the credits roll we get one last view of the front window of the Sinclair house. Through the window the stationary (and assumed frozen) silhouettes of its occupants are visible. Later releases focus on an image of the mailbox covered in snow instead of this rather gruesome end.

The End


How did Dinosaurs shoehorn an event that occurs millions of years in the future and is celebrated by a species that only appears in a primitive form? They didn’t.

In its place we get a celebration of the Dinosaurs’ most important creation: The refrigerator.

I’m not sure what they hang those ornaments on…

Before the refrigerator was invented Dinosaurs had to roam from place to place trying to find food and shelter. The refrigerator allowed Dinosaurs to build homes and settle down.  Each year families across Pangaea decorate their fridges and buy presents for their families and friends to celebrate.

Earl comes home and announces much to his kids pleasure that he has spent all of their money on presents again this year. Fran disapproves but Earl reassures her that he will get his Fridge day bonus.

 At work, Earl has visions of kindness, warmth and even camaraderie from his boss when he is summoned to the office.

B.P. Richfield on a better day

His boss has other ideas. In a brilliant example of Orwellian double speak, B.P. Richfield explains to Earl that as he is expecting a bonus then it’s not a bonus but actual pay, so he won’t be getting it. When Earl responds that he isn’t expecting a bonus anymore, BP counters by saying “good you won’t be disappointed.”


Would you argue?

Distraught, Earl returns home and tells his family the bad news. Robbie and Charlene offer the typical children’s reaction and don’t understand the problem as the presents have already been purchased. Fran explains they needed that money to pay the bills. Earl tries to convince her it’ll be okay and tells everyone at this time of year everyone has the spirit of generosity and there’s a little more understanding about getting paid late.

Wrong! Thanks to late bills, the family’s fridge is repossessed.

Goodbye fridge. We’ll miss you.

In an effort to help Earl, who takes the repossession rather poorly, his family decide to get the refrigerator back. With no money to pay the bill, Fran suggests *gasp* returning the presents to the store. The shopkeepers are a little confused but agree to buy the items back at less than wholesale.


Ah, the sweet misery of those in need

The next morning Earl attempts salvage what is left of Refrigerator Day and notices the presents are gone. Feeling like he has let his family down and  he’s worth less than dirt he chooses to do what any other sane man would do: Threaten to hang himself.

Fran explains to Earl that she returned the presents to buy the fridge back. For a moment Earl is truly happy until Fran reveals what they could afford.


Cooler heads (get it?!) prevailed and Earl didn’t hang himself

With no food to eat, presents to give or a fridge to decorate, the family sticks with tradition and reenact the creation of the first fridge.

Ignore the pilgrim costumes, this is a Christmas story

Earl protests but with his family continuing the tradition he finally overcomes his depression and finds peace in the company of his loved ones.

Haven’t built homes yet, but invented something with a plug. No wonder Dinosaurs died out.

It wouldn’t be a Christmas special without a schmaltzy ending and Dinosaurs doesn’t disappoint. The manager of the store decided that Fran’s “return policy” was just the idea to put him above his competitors and would allow him to crush the competition. As a thank you he arranged for the return of the fridge, all the presents and even got Earl his Fridge Day bonus.


All Earl has to day is sign a small wavier relinquishing all claims to the returns policy idea.

The true meaning of the season. Consumerism.

None, Jesus is quite a few MILLION years in the future.

Also none. The only fat guy in red here is Earl.

There is no doubt that spirit of the holiday is here, okay they don’t ever use the word Christmas but it’s not exactly a subtle metaphor. Just in case you still had your doubts, at the end of the episode we get a Dinosaur carol.

PRODUCT INFORMATION (Shop Amazon through us – It Helps!)

You can find Dinosaurs- The Complete First and Second Seasons as well as Dinosaurs- The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons on Amazon. The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons also includes the missing episodes from season four that only aired in syndication.









4 thoughts on “Dec. 8 – Dinosaurs “Refrigerator Day”

  1. I remember Dinosaurs being part of TGIF and looking forward to it at the end of the school week! Somehow I never saw the last episode though, sounds awesome and disturbing. I know you guys have mentioned it on LaserTime too

  2. This was one of the best shows on TGIF, and I was truly saddened ten day it ended (though I had forgotten that last episode) I still listen to the silly album they put out back in ’92. I remember the lessons that refrigerator day has thought me and I have kept them in my heart all year round.

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