NBC Children's Theatre

The Enormous Egg (18 Apr. 1968)

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Title: The Enormous Egg (18 Apr 1968)

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Hubert Humphrey meets a triceratops
28 May 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

'The Enormous Egg' was originally a children's novel by Oliver Butterworth, who wrote a few books for young readers during breaks from his career in New England as a full-time professor of English and Latin. 'The Enormous Egg' was his most popular book; he wrote a sequel called 'The Narrow Passage' (note the contrasting titles) which featured the same boy protagonist ... but without the dinosaur who features so prominently in 'The Enormous Egg'.

This 1968 TV special is a simplified version of Butterworth's novel. Nate Twitchell is a 12-year-old boy who lives on his family's farm in Freedom, New Hampshire. The family raise chickens, but one hen is Nate's personal pet. One summer morning, Nate's hen lays an egg that is much larger than usual, and the wrong shape and colour. Conveniently, a professor of palaeontology just happens to be holidaying nearby. He examines the egg and, with great excitement, makes Nate promise to notify him as soon as it hatches.

When the eggshell opens, out steps a baby triceratops! Nate's hen has given birth to a throwback. (Birds aren't descended from triceratops, but who's counting?) Nate names the triceratops Uncle Beazley (how can he tell it's a male?) and in an amazingly short time the baby saurian grows to adult size... very large adult size.

The most interesting thing in this TV adaptation is, of course, the triceratops. 'The Enormous Egg' could be sub-titled 'The Microscopic Production Budget'. I think they spent about 29 cents on the dinosaur ... and yet all of the dinosaur sequences are very impressively done. The triceratops in this film is 'played' by a huge dinosaur-shaped piece of moulded fibreglass which does NOT have articulated limbs, so the individual portions of the triceratops cannot move separately. The thing is like a child's toy plastic dinosaur (all in one piece) except that it's life-size.

Intriguingly, the director (a woman whose name I've never encountered elsewhere) shoots these sequences from very close to the dinosaur's body, almost from the dinosaur's viewpoint. We see the dinosaur moving along, following young Nate ... and it's not immediately obvious that the unarticulated lump is being towed along by stagehands out of camera range.

Another aspect of this TV special's extremely low budget is the use of voice-over narration throughout, with all the on-screen actors filmed silent.

Late in the film, Nate takes his pet triceratops to Washington and brings him onto the floor of the Senate so that all the Senators can meet the dinosaur. The narrator directs our attention to the Vice President (the President of the Senate), and the camera cuts to a brief insert shot of somebody resembling Hubert Humphrey, who was Vice President at the time.

UPDATE: I thank correspondent Don Smith for information about the impressive (and expensive) triceratops in this micro-budget telefilm. 'Uncle Beazley' was originally one of nine life-size fibreglass dinosaurs (of different species) made for the Sinclair Oil company's pavilion at the 1964 New York City World's Fair. (Sinclair Oil, fossil fuel, dinosaurs, geddit?) After the World's Fair, Sinclair kindly donated the dinos to various U.S. museums. As of 2007, 'Uncle Beazley' holds court near Lemur Island at Washington, D.C.'s National Zoo.

I'll rate 'The Enormous Egg' 6 out of 10. I should like to recommend this TV movie as children's viewing ... but if your kids are jaded by the big-budget special-effects in movies like 'Jurassic Park', they'll just laugh at the low-tech dinosaur in 'The Enormous Egg'.


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