Zed Lopez

Land of the Lost Re-Watch S01E01: Cha-Ka

Land of the Lost

Say, did you know you could get the complete Land of the Lost on DVD for about $10? Now my nostalgic memories can be ruined!

Yes, the effects and sets are horrendously bad except for the stop-motion dinosaurs and pakuni costumes which are actually pretty impressive. What I didn’t remember is how bad the acting is. And yet still, it had David Gerrold as story editor, and a roster of writers that included Larry Niven, Norman Spinrad, D.C. Fontana, Ben Bova, and Theodore Sturgeon (and Walter Koenig). In 1974, there was more continuity and more chance for the characters to learn than on prime time; Dallas wouldn’t bring serial drama back until 1978.

The credits get things rolling right away, with the familiar theme song (I could still sing it with only a couple of words wrong these more than three decades later) leading us from the “routine expedition” to coming to underneath a tyrannosaur and making a dash for a cave in the side of a cliff.

The first episode is very soon after; Rick Marshall (yes, he’s Ranger Rick) is explaining the theory that they’ve fallen into another world as if it’s fresh news, casually mentioning “last night I saw three moons” for his supporting evidence. My recollection is that we see the three moons all the time during the show, night and day, so is this the day after arrival?

Yet they already have a rope and pulley to raise a bamboo basket to their cave; they already have an established anti-tyrannosaur protocol – the “flyswatter”, or a sharpened pole they shove in its mouth, and the implication is that this isn’t the first one they’ve made. And they appear not to have explored at all yet, as they’d seen dinosaurs, but had yet to meet the pakuni, or encounter a pylon, or see the giant fruit.

The Tyrannosaur gets the name Grumpy in the first episode, and I know why: for all he keeps chasing things, he never actually catches anything. Also, he has an itch between his shoulder blades. (I doubt there’s ever any convincing evidence that he’s a he, but I’ll try to follow the characters’ usage.)

And we meet the Pakuni, who are maybe actual hominids; they have a language, know how to make fire with flint, know how to make and use sharpened sticks as weapons.

I had pretty much forgotten the end-credit theme.

Anything I could ever say about Land of the Lost pales in comparison to Pop Apostle’s Land of the Lost site.