A simpler time in the "Land of the Lost"
Though I was technically born in 1979, I'm not a child of the '70s. So because "Land of the Lost" had its Saturday morning TV run from 1974-76 and likely re-aired throughout the early '80s, before this weekend, I couldn't have told you much of a plot beyond some really crappy looking dinosaurs and a crazy monkey kid running around spewing crazy monkey nonsense.
So I was a bit pleased to discover that the Sci-Fi Channel ran a "Land of the Lost" marathon yesterday, if only because I like gazing in wide-eyed wonder when things look so cheesy and dated. Then again, "Land of the Lost" was a Sid and Marty Krofft production, and if you know anything about those two trippy dudes, there's a kitschy, bizarre charm that really makes you feel part of a special era in children's programming.
And that's how I felt watching "Land of the Lost" yesterday. I probably watched five episodes during the entire day's marathon and as ludicrous as the whole production seemed, I was pretty entranced at times. A lot of that is because I'm a music video aficionado, so I have a soft spot for early '80s MTV where you could see cameras or lights in the background, or the ambitious (read: cornball) effects are completely whitewashed or nonsensical because they truly were inventing the rulebook.
"Land of the Lost" had a similar creative spirit and I had to remind myself several times, yeah, that stop-motion dinosaur probably looked really, really scary in 1974. Or maybe it didn't. I don't know ... I guess that's what made watching it so fun.
For those who aren't familiar, but may check out the Ferrell movie, the plot of "LOTL" is as follows: While rafting, Rick, Will and Holly Marshall get caught in an earthquake and are trapped in an alternate universe called the Land of the Lost. There, they live in a cave and befriend primate-like creatures called Pakuni, attempt to avoid dinosaurs and run like hell from scary-ass humanoid-lizards called Sleestak.
A dimension portal seems to be the guiding force of the show, though to be honest, I was beyond confused at some of the episodes and what the "plylons" and such meant. In one episode (pictured at right), some crazy crystal console is responsible for the Marshall family seeing themselves plunge off the waterfall, and its explained that they never entered a time portal after all. They should be dead. So after some time paradox talk, they're allowed to go back to Earth through a mystical door as long as three more people are brought back to the Land of the Lost. And it turns out to be them ... on the raft ... just as before ... so the cycle repeats itself. Here's a bet that "Lost" creators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof were fans of the show, because it was more confusing than what's going on with Oceanic 815 these days.
Anyway, just catching a few of the old episodes was a fun trip down memory lane. First, there was a very real sense of life-and-death peril that made for some cheesy-yet-creatively captivating viewing. I can only imagine what would have been like as a child of the '70s. After all, I'm an adult, and Cha-Ka scares the crap out of me. I was also particularly amused by a scene where Holly (who always wore that same plaid shirt) and Cha-Ka fall down a hole that magically opens in the ground. Rick (why is he called Marshall in the theme song if that's his last name?) follows and the three are suspended in space around a giant, pulsing heartbeat that looks like a glowing popcorn ball. What was most amusing, however, is that the special effect of each character falling down the hole was nothing more than a Barbie doll spinning lower and lower on a wire. I'm telling you, it was absolutely hilarious.
Conclusion: sometimes things are so bad, they're good. "Land of the Lost" certainly fits that bill and could make the movie version (out June 5) slightly interesting if they know how to have fun with the show's history. Also, a complete set "Land of the Lost" lunchbox set comes out in stores today for around $70 (Amazon has it for $52.) Buy it for the sci-fi geek or crazy monkey kid in your family. And remember, always beware of Sleestak!
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, firstname.lastname@example.org