RETRO REWIND: Land Of The Lost
Updated: Mar 23, 2018
Land of the Lost was a Sid & Marty Krofft creation on Saturday mornings, running from 1974-1977.
This science fiction/adventure favorite of mine told the tale of a family of three: Rick Marshall and his two teenage children, Will and Holly, who set out on a "routine expedition." I can't tell you any more about this expedition because that's all they tell us. Rick is some sort of ranger, so we can sort of draw our own conclusions.
While on the rafting adventure, there is a huge earthquake ("the greatest earthquake ever known!") that opens up the earth and a subsequent time rift that sends them plunging over a waterfall. The three find themselves sent back into a past, to the land of dinosaurs, which they refer to as the Land of the Lost. The show follows them on their day-to-day exploits of survival and relationship, all the while focusing on how they can get back home.
The enemy of the Marshalls (aside from the dinosaurs), the dreaded lizard-like creatures known as the Sleestak, will creep a kid out and are let on to be more dangerous than they seem. They move at the speed of slugs.
At the beginning of the series, Will and Holly find a young monkey-like creature who is of the Pakuni race, named Cha-Ka. He's sort of a goofy little sidekick that tends to get himself in a lot more trouble than he's worth, if you ask me. Personally, I would have sent the little dude packing within the first season. Aren't man-eating dinosaurs and lizard men enough of a challenge? I originally thought that Cha-Ka was played by Clint Howard, Ron's brother, who starred in the series Gentle Ben and also did a guest shot in Star Trek, TOS. I came to find out it wasn't him, but an actor named Phillip Paley.
As the series progresses, the show's simplicity gives way to some kind of heady time travel/parallel universe/alternate time speak. At least heady for a kid. As I grew, I actually really appreciated them going a bit deeper with it.
I came to later find out that many of the scripts were written by some well-respected science fiction writers, including some who wrote episodes of Star Trek, the original series. Mr Chekov, Walter Koenig, even got a shot to write for the Land of the Lost.
The Marshalls were aided at some point by Enik, who was an Altrusian, a race of ancestors of the Sleestak. While Sleestak only hissed, Enik actually spoke.
Near the end of the show, Rick Marshall finds his way back home and his brother, fellow ranger Jack Marshall, joins the kids. Behind the scenes, Spencer Milligan who played Rick, was struggling with the series creators and producers over pay raises and what he believed was unfair royalties from the show. He decided to leave Land of the Lost. Hence, the appearance of Uncle Jack to replace him as the kids' father figure.
Land of the Lost was a real departure from the usual bright and colorful, puppet creature kids fare put out by creators, Sid and Marty Krofft.
Most of their shows (H.R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Lidsville, and a host of others), were upbeat, cute, silly and often made you wonder what drugs they were on the day each was created. Land of the Lost took a much more serious and solemn tone into the world of science fiction.
I really did enjoy this show as a kid. Even as an adult, it's pretty groovy, although the dialogue is often cringy. The acting is sub-par, especially from brother Will (Wesley Eure) who tends to overact quite a bit. The claymation/stop motion animation of the dinosaurs was enough to impress any kid.
To this day, Land of the Lost is still one of my favorite kid's shows from my youth. Don't even talk to me about the 2009 movie that makes a whole joke out of our terrific childhood. Hollyweird loves to do that. :(
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