I've been on a wide variety of movie and TV sets over the past decade and I've seen some intriguing things. I've watched Avengers fight off alien invaders, Greek warriors setting sail for conquest, Freddy Krueger on the prowl for nubile teenage victims, marauding pirates, misunderstood evil queens and undercover police officers playing football.
There's nothing I can really compare to the experience last month of standing in an observation room at London's Pinewood Studios watching a quartet of trained paleontologists and veterinarians digging into the blood-spewing, organ-bursting corpse of a life-size tyrannosaurus rex, designed under the auspices of a slew of dino-experts and realized with foam, latex, rubber and all manner of other surprising ingredients by the team at Crawley Creatures under the watch of Jez Gibson-Harris, one of the men credited with bringing Jabba the Hutt to life.
The title post-mortem examination in National Geograph's “T.rex Autopsy” was performed over several days and I joined a group of reporters, most of whom know much more about dinosaurs than I do, in watching nearly 12 hours of filming, which had to be done with something resembling documentary-level precision, because life-sized tyrannosaurus replicas aren't easily replaced, so you have to execute properly when you're cutting into layers of skin and muscle or removing internal organs.
The HitFix exclusive clip above features the heart, which we actually didn't get to see, but we got to witness the excavating team dig around in dino-guts and dino-intestines, accompanied by life-like smells, which was already pretty strange and different.
“T.rex Autopsy” premieres on NatGeo on June 7 and next week I'll have a couple detailed reports from the set, including executives discussing the process and an interview with Professor John Hutchinson, expert on evolutionary biomechanics, autopsy enthusiast and consultant, who stood in the observation room with reporters telling us what we were watching and making “Simpsons” jokes.
Check out the clip above.