Master of Sci-Fi: Tim Haines

Sep 28, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Tim Haines’ “Walking With …” series has a simple goal: Present extinct animals in a realistic and naturalistic manner.
His “Walking With Dinosaurs,” produced for the BBC in 1999, used puppetry and computer-generated images to show dinosaurs as living creatures, eating, mating and rearing their young. Imagine “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” meets “Jurassic Park.”

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The series garnered three Emmy Awards and a Peabody, among other trophies.
Mr. Haines has produced “Walking With …” shows on topics including pre- and post-dinosaur animals. But how does one draw viewers into the world of dinosaurs without the stigma of the d-word: documentary?
Enter “Primeval,” Mr. Haines’ fusion of sci-fi and documentary, allowing dinosaurs and futuristic creatures to mix it up with humans.
“Primeval” chronicles five scientists investigating a series of portals that contain a menagerie of real-world prehistoric animals and heavily evolved beasties.
“‘Primeval’ was a natural extension of what we did on ‘Walking With Dinosaurs,’” Mr. Haines said.
“The anomalies were a simple device to bring man face to face with the most exciting creatures from the past. I still work on documentaries and find the research from those programs feeds my ideas in drama.”
Well received on ITV in the United Kingdom, “Primeval” jumped the pond, starting its run on BBC America in early August, with a third season greenlit on ITV for January 2009. Critics so far have praised the technical achievement of the dinosaurs in the series.
The more fantastical aspects of Mr. Haines’ creations can be tracked to his sci-fi inspirations, including “Lost in Space” and “Star Trek,” which he confessed was “the only reason I wanted a color TV.”
For the future, Mr. Haines is mum, saying his next project is “top-secret, of course. But there could be a lot of robot action in it.”

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