December 02, 2002 12:00 PM

ABC (Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET)

Attention, parents or adult guardians: If the kids in your household enjoyed the fantasy-adventure miniseries Dinotopia last May, they may be confused to find the characters looking so different in the weekly version that premieres with two episodes on Thanksgiving night. Don’t feed them some soothing lie like “Oh, Karl and David probably had extensive plastic surgery over the summer.” Candidly explain that the producers hired a new cast and television is not to be trusted.

In the miniseries, Wentworth Miller played David as a touchy, studious teen who slowly turned hero after unexpectedly relocating to a lost continent where time is askew and humans coexist with dinosaurs (some surprisingly civilized). Shiloh Strong, the new David, seems more like a conventional can-do type. What hasn’t changed is the tension between David and his brother Karl, now portrayed by Erik von Detten. Ever since they washed up on Dinotopia after a plane crash, the boys have been fighting over Marion (Georgina Rylance), the daughter of Waterfall City’s Mayor Waldo (Jonathan Hyde). Waldo was amusingly pompous in the miniseries; now he’s a serious authority figure.

Frank (Michael Brandon), Karl and David’s dad, is a major malcontent in the opener. In the second hour, though, he shows signs of becoming a loyal Dinotopian, leaving the series in need of a boat-rocker. Apparently that will be saucy LeSage (Lisa Zane), the smartest member of an outlaw gang. But unless several characters get more interesting in a hurry, hungry tyrannosaurs will have to provide all the excitement.


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