Land of the Lost (1974 television series)

From Academic Kids

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Land of the Lost title screen

Land of the Lost (19741976) is one in a variety of popular, uniquely produced children's television series created and produced by Sid and Marty Krofft. The prolific Krofft team was very influential in children's television, producing many oddly formatted, highly energetic, and special-effects heavy programs.

There was a remake of the series in 1991, also called Land of the Lost.

Contents

Overview

Land of the Lost detailed the adventures of a family of three (father Rick Marshall, young son Will, and younger daughter Holly) who are trapped in a primitive world inhabited by dinosaurs, chimpanzee-like cavemen called Pakuni, and reptilian humanoids called Sleestak. The episode plots focused primarily on the family's efforts to survive and find a way back to their own world. Though the central characters are different, the title indicates that the series may have drawn inspiration from the similar theme of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World.

The series is notable for having a much darker tone than most children's series, and for having grander and more epic storytelling vision than most shows aimed at children. The relatively complex plots, unique internal mythology, and ambitious though unrealistic special effects (often included in an entertainment category called camp) have earned the show a large popular following, particularly among adults who watched the show and other Krofft productions as children.

Many Krofft shows involved similar plots, often including children accidentally trapped in other worlds or quirky variations on superhero stories.

Native inhabitants

Pakuni

Pakuni (singular: Paku) are a species of small chimpanzee-like humanoids, ground-dwelling and bipedal but not fully upright in posture. They are primarily herbivores, though they do occasionally eat small animals (an iguana-like lizard in the episode "Stone Soup", for example). They know how to create fire using flints (as seen in the "Cha-Ka" episode), and manufacture simple tools such as the sharpened sticks they use as defensive weapons. Pakuni display significant skill with representational art and have superstitious rituals that usually include chanting but they do not appear to understand music. They live in small family groups that construct strong bamboo enclosures as shelters. The family groups are territorial but they are quite capable of forming alliances and friendships with neighbors when resources are plentiful and they understand the concept of trade. Young Pakuni undergo a rite of adulthood in which they must steal the egg of a large predatory dinosaur to prove their worth.

The Paku language is relatively primitive. It was created for the show by the linguist Victoria Fromkin, and is similar to the Kwa languages of West Africa. It has regular anti-penultimate stress, homorganic nasals, nasalization of vowels before nasals, and deletion of final vowels before vowel initial suffixes. The language eventually had about 200 words; "Pakuni" simply means "people" in this language.

Ta, Sa and Cha-Ka

The three Pakuni who were regular characters in the show were the alpha male Ta, his female companion Sa, and the young male Cha-Ka. The exact familial relationship between these Pakuni was never explicitly stated. Ta was a domineering, egotistical and treacherous Paku who never came to trust the Marshalls. He could be bargained with, however, and although he usually attempted to cheat the Marshalls he was not particularly difficult to see through and trick. Sa occasionally seemed to be a moderating influence on Ta, but for the most part served as a follower.

Cha-Ka was the most favourably disposed toward the Marshalls. In the first episode the Marshalls rescued him from Grumpy the tyrannosaurus and splinted Cha-Ka's broken leg. Subsequently, Cha-Ka formed a close friendship with Holly in particular. Cha-Ka underwent the rite of adulthood in the episode "The Test", but he remained the junior member of the Pakuni group. Cha-Ka occasionally visited the Marshalls in their cave in High Bluff and after the earthquake that marked the beginning of season three he was separated from Ta and Sa and moved in with them at the Builder temple.

Sleestak

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Three Sleestak armed with crossbows.

Sleestak are large green humanoids with both reptilian and insectoid features; they have scaly skin with frills around the neck, bulbous unblinking eyes, pincer-like hands, stubby tails, and a single blunt horn on top of the head. Sleestak are more intelligent than Pakuni, able to manufacture crossbows, rope, nets, and other relatively sophisticated technologies. They were once significantly more advanced, however; Sleestak are the degenerate descendants of the Altrusians (see below). The Sleestak have a current population of about 7,000 according to the Library of Skulls, but there were only three Sleestak costumes available for the show's production, which sometimes required creative editing to create the illusion that they were that numerous.


Sleestak live in the Lost City, an underground tunnel complex originally constructed by the Altrusians. They hate bright light and rarely venture out during the day. Sleestak also have a "hibernation season" during which they cocoon themselves into rocky alcoves using some sort of webbing; cool air keeps them in hibernation, and the heat from lava in a pool that the character Peter Koenig (see below) dubbed "Devil's Cauldron" inside the caverns of the Lost City revives them again on a regular schedule. The Sleestak are very defensive of the Lost City. They know that their ancestors built it, but do not know how or why. They have occasionally tried exploring beyond the chasm that separates the Lost City from the rest of the Land, but their expeditions generally never return and they consider the City to be their only refuge.

The Sleestak have encountered many other humans who have become trapped in the Land of the Lost before the Marshalls arrived, and regard humans as a terrible threat; they attempt to capture and sacrifice humans to their god at every opportunity.

Altrusian moths are required for fertilization of Sleestak eggs, and the Sleestak hunt them when they emerge during the night. The eggs are subsequently gestated in a communal hatchery, which is very old and very important to the Sleestak. The Sleestak capture live animals and tie them up there, leaving them there for the young to feed on when they hatch. Occasionally, a Sleestak will be hatched that is a "throwback" to their Altrusian ancestors, being born with greater intelligence and with an innate knowledge of Altrusian history and technology—though not, for some reason, knowledge of Pylon (see below) operation. The other Sleestak regard these throwbacks as a threat, and so they are also sacrificed to the Sleestak god when detected. One such throwback named S'latch was encountered by the Marshalls in the episode "The Hole", but S'latch was never seen again thereafter.

The Sleestak have a Sleestak Council and Sleestak Leader. The Leader wears a distinctive pendant.

Altrusians

The ancestors of modern Sleestak were the Altrusians. Their civilization fell approximately 1,000 years earlier. The Sleestak still use the name "Altrusian" to refer to themselves. The Altrusians were physically very similar to Sleestak, with their primary differences being a shorter stature, an extra finger on each hand, and a golden yellow skin tone. Intellectually they were very different, however. The Altrusians possessed advanced psionic technologies based on light crystals and understood a great deal about the operation of the Land of the Lost. They strove for calm emotionlessness and as a result could be both cooperative and quite callous in outlook.

One Altrusian, named Enik, was a recurring character in the series. He traveled to the current time accidentally via a time doorway. He initially believed himself to be in the distant past, but upon discovering the ruins of the Lost City, he theorized that his people degenerated into modern Sleestak when they failed to control their hate and anger. Rick Marshall speculated that it was not the presence of hate that doomed the Altrusians, but rather the absence of compassion; Enik considered this to be a cogent argument and planned to return to his people to warn them of this flaw in their philosophy.

Altrusians have a very strict code of honor; they cannot allow others to show more self-control or make greater personal sacrifices than themselves. One can shame them into making sacrifices in this manner. In "The Search" episode, Will forced Enik to pass up a chance to return to his own time by first passing up an opportunity of his own to return to Earth.

Other notable flora and fauna

The Land of the Lost's megafauna consists primarily of dinosaurs; species noted included coelophysis, tyrannosaurus rex, allosaurus, triceratops, apatosaurus, pterodactyl, and stegosaurus. There were also iguanas ("Stone Soup"), wild pigs, pink and blue chicken-like birds (the "Skylons" episode), bamboo, and giant varieties of modern berries and vegetables. These species come from a variety of different times in Earth's evolutionary history. Rick suggests that the plants grow unusually large due to the nature of the soil (in the episode "Dopey"). There were also a number of species that did not appear closely related to known Earth life; the aforementioned Sleestak, a large venus-flytrap-like plant capable of consuming prey the size of a large rodent using a paralytic poison, a multi-headed hydra-like creature, and a fire-breathing dragon-like creature.

Several dinosaurs that the Marshalls encountered frequently were given names, for example "Grumpy" the tyrannosaurus, "Alice" the allosaurus, and "Dopey" the baby brontosaurus that they sometimes used as a pack animal.

It should be noted that the hydra and the dragon both appear in the third season of the series, when the consistency and style of the series' writing appeared to suffer a significant change; one episode in the third season also featured the legendary Greek Medusa, for example. Another species that made an appearance in the third season was a Yeti-like creature that lived high in the mountains, prevented from descending into the jungle by guardian statues left behind by the Altrusians.

Visitors to the Land

Travel to the Land of the Lost is almost always accidental, via glowing or misty "time doorways". Time doorways sometimes appear to open and close spontaneously, but they can also be opened and controlled by some Pylon crystal matrix tables and by a matrix table in the Lost City. Time doorways obey a form of mass conservation law; whenever something enters the Land of the Lost via a time doorway something else must then leave it, though not necessarily at the exact same time.

Also, at least one Pylon periodically travels to other universes acting as a sort of "interdimensional elevator", triggered by a conjunction of the Land's moons that occurs every three to four years. One of the universes it stops at along the way appears to be the Marshall's home Earth.

The Marshalls

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Left to right: Holly, Will and Rick Marshall. Rick is manipulating a crystal matrix table located in the Lost City.

Rick Marshall, his son Will and his younger daughter Holly, were rafting in a high mountain river when they were caught in "the greatest earthquake ever known." The river was diverted over a cliff, and as the Marshalls' raft plunged over the resulting waterfall they struck a time doorway partway down. Trapped in the Land of the Lost with only the minimal camping equipment they'd had on the raft, they make their camp in a natural cave partway up the face of a cliff they called the High Bluff. Although the cave was secure from most local dangers, they were frequently pestered by Grumpy the tyrannosaurus who was tall enough to see inside. Whenever he made an appearance the Marshalls would ram a sharpened log they called the "flyswatter" into Grumpy's open mouth and drive him away. Holly speculated that Grumpy continued to return due to the large quantities of a ground-hugging fern-like plant she'd dubbed "dinosaur nip" that grew in the area ("Follow That Dinosaur" episode).

The three of them are from California ("Downstream" episode). Mrs. Marshall died of unspecified causes when Will and Holly were very young, neither of them remembers her very clearly. Rick described her as being headstrong and beautiful, just like Holly, and apparently loved her deeply ("The Search"). Will and Holly frequently suffered bouts of sibling rivalry, though they would overcome such issues when the situation became difficult enough. Will was the most adventurous of the Marshalls, frequently taking "shortcuts" as an excuse to explore new territory and tampering with Pylons to determine their function. Holly suffered from a fear of heights.

At the beginning of the third season, Rick Marshall unexpectedly has returned home via another time doorway; Will and Holly's uncle Jack Marshall, who was searching for them in the mountains where they'd originally disappeared, fell through to take his place. This event caused an earthquake that buries their cliff dwelling, so the Marshalls moved their base of operations to the Builder Temple near the Lost City instead.

The series ended without showing the Marshall's ultimate fate, though there are some ambiguous suggestions of it. In "Elsewhen", an adult version of Holly visits via a time doorway from the future, and in another episode a mysterious "repairman" confidently predicts that the Marshalls would someday get out of the Land of the Lost.

It is discovered in the last first-season episode ("Circle") that the Marshalls were their own counterbalance; their escape from the Land of the Lost in that episode was what caused the time doorway that drew them there in the first place to open. "Circle" was intended to serve as a "final episode" in the event that the show was not renewed, but since two more seasons were filmed after this episode depicted their escape (including the seemingly incompatible substitution of Jack for Rick), much debate has ensued in the fan community over exactly what this paradox meant for the Marshalls.

Jefferson Davis Collie III

Jefferson Davis Collie III is an old and somewhat deranged Confederate artillery man who has been in the Land of the Lost for many decades. He lived in the caves near where the river went underground, obsessively mining the rich veins of light crystals there. His only companion was a cannon named "Sarah" with which he drove away the occasional group of Sleestak attackers using home-made gunpowder; he reported that Sleestak "taste a whole lot like lobster. But then again, not like lobster, if you know what I mean." The Marshalls encountered him when they attempted to ride the river out of the Land in the episode "Downstream", but he ultimately returned to his cave rather than face the dinosaurs in the jungle outside.

Collie was played by Walker Edmiston, the same actor who later played Enik the Altrusian. The original script for "Downstream" called for him to have a rifle, but concerns over young viewers being inspired to play with firearms resulted in its substitution with a cannon.

Peter Koenig and Harry Potts

Peter Koenig was a private in General Washington's Revolutionary Army who arrived in the Land of the Lost some time prior to the Marshalls. Koenig and his companion Harry Potts explored the Land extensively in search of a way back to Earth.

When the Marshalls first arrived, they discovered a stone pillar in the jungle where he'd written "Beware of Sleestak" with chalk. The Marshalls only learn much later who had been responsible for this warning, when they discover Koenig's journal. Koenig claimed to have dubbed the Sleestak thus in honor of Major Joshua Sleestak, but it is possible he was inspired by the Paku name for the species, "Sarisataka", since the journal indicated he had had many encounters with Pakuni as well. It is also possible that the Pakuni picked up the term from him, replacing whatever their original native word had been, as Koenig claims in his journal to have taught them a few English words.

Koenig and Potts eventually met their deaths when they explored the Lost City and discovered the "Devil's Cauldron" lava pool, where they became trapped when the Sleestak revived from their hibernation season. The Marshalls found their skeletons lying at the edge of the Cauldron.

Beauregard Jackson

Beauregard Jackson of Fort Worth, Texas was a hypersonic glider pilot from 20 years in Earth's future relative to when the Marshalls became trapped in the Land of the Lost. He became briefly trapped in the Land of the Lost when Will, tinkering with the crystal matrix table in a Pylon located high on a mountain, caused a time doorway to open high above the ground. Jackson's glider was re-entering Earth's atmosphere over Ecuador, returning from a routine transit between Phoenix Port and Space Station 5. His glider's tail was suddenly severed, and the next thing he knew he was hanging from a tree by his parachute. With the help of the Marshalls, Jackson soon managed to return via the same time doorway, but the Marshalls couldn't follow since Earth's end of the time doorway was 15 miles above the ground and there was only one parachute.

In the original draft script for the episode "Hurricane" it was revealed near the end that Mr. Jackson did not come from Earth's future—at least, not the future of the same Earth of the Marshalls. In Jackson's world, Texas was its own country, never having joined the United States, and oil was the currency standard used to back money rather than gold.

The Zarn

The Zarn is a humanoid alien who is invisible except for white spots of light scattered over its surface; he doesn't even leave footprints when he walks on soft soil. His starship became trapped in the Land of the Lost while traveling through hyperspace. The Zarn has powerful psionic abilities, able to read minds at a great distance and telekinetically levitate objects. However, this powerful telepathy is also the Zarn's greatest weakness; intense, angry emotions in people nearby cause the Zarn great pain, and the spots of light on his invisible body turn red in reaction.

The Zarn is apparently a researcher of some kind whose mission involved the study of other intelligent species before he became trapped in the Land. Since the Zarn is very sensitive to other's emotions he creates android "research assistants" to interact with them, programming them from the memories of people he has scanned. The androids are totally convincing, and in fact may not really know they are not who they think they are. They have histories that incorporate great amounts of detail based on the knowledge of the scanned subject, to an eerie and suspicious degree. When the Marshalls first encounter the Zarn he creates an android named Sharon who was based on Rick Marshall's memories, such that she grew up in the same town as him, went to the same school, and had the same interests. The excessive coincidences eventually gave Sharon away, however, at which point the Zarn caused her to self-destruct.

The Zarn also has a "combat" robot that he named Fred, a 10-foot-tall armless biped with a long neck and beaked head with glowing eyes. Fred is very strong, but fairly slow. The Marshalls destroy Fred by luring it to a mountain top during a lightning storm.

The Zarn is extremely overconfident, arrogant, and certain of his superior knowledge, even when it actually has holes. The Zarn is also quite petty, using telekinesis to play tricks on people he dislikes and to sow discord. He claims this behavior is "research". He frequently mocks people by "speaking" telepathically in the voices of people they know, saying hurtful things dredged from their memories. At one point the Zarn claimed that the emotion of pity was the most painful one for him to be exposed to, so perhaps some of this behavior is intended to prevent that.

Enik

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Enik's first meeting with the Marshalls, with Rick holding the Mageti.

Enik is not technically a visitor to the Land of the Lost, being one of the original Altrusian inhabitants from before their civilization fell. However, he too fell through a time doorway to become trapped in the current era of the Land of the Lost. He was originally equipped with a piece of Altrusian technology called a Mageti, a large crystal suspended in a tetrahedral frame that Enik described as a "divining rod" that could be used to locate and fix dimensional doorways, determining where and when they would open. The Mageti had a self-destruct mechanism in it that triggered when its user experienced sufficiently strong hostile emotions, however, intended as a safeguard to prevent it from falling into non-Altrusian hands. Will Marshal inadvertently destroyed it and forced Enik to rely on a different and less-suitable device (a "companion piece" to the Mageti that was worn around his neck as a pendant) to continue his efforts to return to his own time and warn his people of their fate.

Enik is quite contemptuous of the state the Sleestak have descended to since the fall of the Altrusian civilization. The Sleestak return the contempt, referring to him as "the dwarf", and fear that he intends to seize power over them. He is equipped with a bracelet of crystals he can use to cause people to be overcome by hallucinations of their greatest fear, however, and so the Sleestak generally give Enik wide berth. He spends much of his time during the series in the Lost City, working with a crystal matrix table there attempting to open a time doorway home.

In addition to his shorter stature and different skin coloration, Enik is distinguished from the Sleestak in that he wears a distinctive red garment (Sleestak do not wear clothing). This garment was added to his costume when the wetsuit Enik's skin was crafted from shrank after rubber scales were glued to it, requiring slits to be cut across the front in order for Walker Edmiston to fit inside. Walter Koenig, the episode's scriptwriter, originally named this character "Eneg", in honor of Gene Roddenberry, but the spelling was changed to Enik (reverse of the Greek root word for "cinema") by David Gerrold, before the episode "The Stranger" was filmed.

Geography and features

The Land of the Lost is a very small, closed pocket universe that consists of a valley surrounded by mountains. A traveler attempting to pass over the mountains will find himself reentering the valley from the other side; at one point the Marshalls climb a mountain peak and using binoculars are able to see far enough across the valley to observe themselves from behind (the episode "Hurricane"). There is one major river flowing through the Land, forming a similarly closed loop; it flows into a cave at one end of the valley and comes back out again in a waterfall at the other end. The Marshalls discover this when they attempt to raft down river in search of an exit from the Land in the episode "Downstream".

The climate of the Land is tropical, and the valley is filled almost entirely with dense jungle. Other major landmarks include a tar pit, a misty swamp filled with dead trees that appears to be locked in darkness even during the day, some high bluffs containing natural caves, and a narrow canyon or chasm that extends into the mountains. The Land lacks a magnetic field, rendering compasses useless.

The Land appears to have three moons. The smallest is also the fastest, moving visibly through the sky; the Marshalls dubbed it "Speedy". Considering the unusual cosmography of the universe the Land is in, however, it is likely that the "moons" are artificial or otherwise illusory. On two separate occasions, manipulation of a Pylon's crystal matrix table caused the motion of the sun and moons to halt, suggesting that the entire sky may be an illusion. Conjunctions of the moons appear to trigger the activities of some Pylons, including the elevator Pylon ("Pylon Express" episode) and the possession Pylon ("The Possession" episode).

An establishing shot in "Stone Soup" features a matte painting depicting two suns in close proximity to each other, one appearing significantly smaller than the other. This is not commented upon by the characters, however, and multiple later episodes ("Fair Trade", "The Test", "The Longest Day") show similar shots with only one sun.

Light crystals

Scattered throughout the Land of the Lost, often embedded in the walls of caverns, are a variety of colourful brightly-glowing crystals that the Marshalls dubbed "light crystals" and which Enik called "fourth-dimensional nodes." Sizes vary from boulder-sized chunks to the more common walnut-sized gems. Their most common colours are red, blue, yellow, and green, though other rarer colors have been seen.

The most common use of light crystals seems to be in crystal matrix control tables, or simply as sources of illumination. Altrusians used them as a power source for their technology. On their own, the crystals generally do not have special properties beyond their glow, but bringing two different-coloured crystals together can cause additional effects in some cases:

  • Bringing a yellow crystal together with a green one causes the pair to emit a blindingly bright but short-lived light; this combination is often useful for driving away Sleestak.
  • Bringing red and yellow crystals together causes an explosion after a very brief delay.
  • Combining red and blue do nothing noticeable, but adding a third, yellow crystal to the pair causes them to emit a fierce electric shock.
  • In general, yellow crystals appear to trigger releases of energy from other crystals.
  • A blue crystal and a green crystal together create a temporary force field a short distance away. This use was taught to the Marshalls by Enik in "The Stranger", but in the later episode "The Search", the Marshalls attempted to reproduce the effect and nothing happened. (It is possible the crystals they used the second time were insufficiently charged.)
  • In general, blue crystals appear involved in telepathic functions. Blue crystals alone can under some circumstances hypnotize people into seeing what they love most ("Album"). Jefferson Collie also mentioned that blue crystals "make you sick", and discards them when he mines them in his cave. The Marshalls eventually receive a set of pendants made from blue crystals that provide a sort of clairvoyance, in which one wearer can see what the other wearer is seeing and hear what they're hearing.

David Gerrold, in his DVD commentary to the episode "Circle", noted that the idea for the crystals was picked up from Harlan Ellison, who had wanted to use them in his Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever", but he was blocked from doing so.

Pylons

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Grumpy the T. rex ponders a Pylon with an open doorway.

Pylons are small gold truncated square pyramids, tall and narrow, spaced every quarter mile in a regular pattern throughout the Land of the Lost. The surface of a Pylon is extremely smooth to the touch; Will described the sensation as being like "touching nothing". Holly also reported that the surface felt cold. When a tyrannosaurus tried to bite a Pylon in the episode "Skylons", the Pylon emitted a powerful electrical shock that frightened it away.

Some Pylons have a hand-sized tetrahedral "key" projecting from about two thirds of the way up one side; when turned, a diamond-shaped patch of the Pylon's surface below it dematerializes to provide a small doorway inside. Pylon keys can be removed from a Pylon by shining reflected sunlight on them, sealing the Pylon, and can be replaced by pressing the key back on the Pylon's surface ("Skylons"). Pylons have a chamber inside with indistinct black walls, floor and ceiling that is significantly larger inside than the Pylon appears from the outside. Each Pylon will typically contain a "crystal matrix control table," a small square table made of stone with a grid on the upper surface. Various light crystals rest on the grid. Some Pylons also have a large green viewing orb suspended beyond the crystal matrix table used as a visual display.

Pylons appear to be part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Land of the Lost; when the light crystals on their crystal matrix tables are tampered with, all manner of effects on the Land can be produced. Examples include causing storms, opening and closing time doorways, triggering earthquakes, and even manipulating the rate at which celestial bodies travel through the sky. Pylons appear to have specialized functions; a "weather Pylon" controls rain, a "clock Pylon" controls the movement of celestial bodies, etc.

Skylons

Closely associated with Pylons are small flying golden bipyramidal objects the Marshalls dubbed Skylons. When the crystal matrix table in a Pylon has been tampered with in a destructive way, Skylons will arrive and hover over the Pylon, while flashing a sequence of colours corresponding to the sequence of light crystals that need to be manipulated to restore the table. Skylons also appear to respond to signaling with reflected sunlight. The Skylons are apparently only able to cope with problems resulting directly from miss-set crystal matrix tables, however, and appear unable to handle problems resulting from outside forces such as the Zarn's gravity drive. This may suggest that they are relatively simple automatons and not particularly intelligent. The door apertures in Pylons are roughly the same size and shape as Skylons, but it is not known whether Skylons actually enter Pylons through them.

The Land's "Heart"

There is at least one location in the Land of the Lost where there should be a Pylon according to their pattern of distribution, but where there is only an empty clearing in the jungle instead. The clearing has a hidden circular aperture in the center that sporadically opens to drop whatever was on top of it down a shaft into a black void. A jagged pulsating house-sized red crystal floats in the center of this void. Objects that have fallen down there "orbit" the red crystal for a while, but eventually the red crystal shoots the objects with an energy beam that pulls them into it. Rick Marshall speculated that this crystal was a "generator or giant heart" for the Land, and that it generated energy from what it consumed in this manner. Rick, Holly, and Cha-Ka fell inside the void once, but Rick managed to get them all out again by using his signal mirror to reflect the crystal's beam back at it. The crystal reacted by violently ejecting all the remaining orbiting objects from the pit.

A nearby Pylon appears to be a control station for this pit, with a viewing orb that shows the interior of the shaft.

The Lost City

The Lost City is an ancient subterranean city originally built by the Altrusians but now inhabited by the Sleestak and partly abandoned. It is built into the base of a mountain in a region of the Land separated from the rest by a narrow but deep chasm; a fallen stone slab bridging the chasm is the only convenient method of access. Externally, it consists of a huge plaza with an arched entrance, crumbling rectangular pillars, and three tunnel entrances set into a mountainside. The plaza is the home territory of an allosaurus. The Marshalls dub this allosaurus "Alice", but the Sleestak call her "Selima", which means "Protector", because she keeps animals away from their eggs.

The left entrance to the City leads to the Devil's Cauldron lava pool, along corridors with many stone alcoves used by the Sleestak for hibernation. Accessible through the central entrance is a fog-filled pit at least seven meters deep called the "Hole of No Return", within which lives a carnivorous beast the Sleestak refer to as their god, to which they sacrifice people and animals as food. Sleestak legend tells that only once did someone escape from the Hole, but the legend doesn't detail how; one possible route is via a narrow tunnel that runs from the bottom of the pit to the top, too small for the god to pass through and normally hidden by fog.

Also through the central entrance is a passage to a chamber containing a crystal matrix table, where Enik spends most of his time attempting to open a time doorway back to his original era. Near this room is a door with a Pylon key next to it, beyond which is a small opening that leads to a bottomless pit. In the episode "Elsewhen", Holly descends into this pit on a rope, and she briefly finds herself hanging upside-down in the sky over the Land of the Lost. This bizarre vision is never explained within the show, but may be related to the closed nature of the universe that the Land is in; just as the river loops back to its origin, the pit may descend so far that it comes out in the sky overhead.

Although the Sleestak do not venture beyond the chasm above ground, there are caves and tunnels all over the underground of the Land, many of which link to the Lost City. The Sleestak sometimes use these tunnels to hunt, chipping upward to create a pit trap and waiting below for prey to fall in.

Library of Skulls

The Library of Skulls is a foggy cavern in the Lost City that contains glowing Altrusian skulls and urns on pedestals and ledges. The Library is a relic of the Altrusian civilization; the urns can emit a smoke that induces a form of telepathy that allows the user to communicate with the skulls, and that also has the side effect of removing all language barriers. Lengthy exposure to the smoke causes hallucinations.

The skulls have various areas of expertise or specialization, for example the "Skull of History" and the "Skull of Wisdom", and the "Index Skull" is an important starting point when asking the Library for information. They are also able to predict or prophesy the future, and they know at least some details about how to operate Pylon matrix tables. As knowledgeable as they are, however, the skulls do not appear to have any goals or will of their own; they only provide answers to the questions they are asked.

The Library is tended by a Sleestak Librarian, and the Sleestak Council and Leader consult the Library of Skulls on important matters. The Council and Leader claim exclusive rights to consultation, though they may allow others to ask questions under some circumstances.

The Builder Temple

Near the Lost City's plaza is a stone "temple". It is avoided by Sleestak, as it is not an Altrusian ruin but rather was built by some other long-lost agency. Inside the temple is an empty antechamber with a sundial set into the floor, somewhat of an oddity since sunlight does not reach that far into the room. There is a solid stone door at the back, and at the top of the door frame is a sculptured relief high on the wall of two human hands touching; one hand is convex, the other concave. The door only opens when a Paku puts his or her hand into the concave relief. Inside is a crystal-illuminated chamber with "the great-grand-daddy of all matrix tables" (as Rick described it) inside. There are also several humanoid statues.

When this chamber was first discovered, Cha-Ka touched the matrix table and caused the appearance of a glowing red humanoid figure. The figure was uninterested with the Marshalls, telling them "You have already proven yourself; it is not your time." When it encountered Cha-Ka and he faced the glowing figure bravely, however, it declared "It is your time, Cha-Ka." The figure changed from a featureless red humanoid into a more humanlike twin of Cha-Ka before vanishing. Cha-Ka was apparently left with improved intelligence; at the end of the episode, he is shown playing music on a recorder that he had previously been unable to comprehend.

Farther away from the Lost City is another smaller complex also called "The Temple". This other Temple is perhaps of Altrusian origin; its decorations include the half-sunburst symbol seen over the entrances to the Lost City. The Marshalls wound up using this temple as their primary shelter in the show's third season. The mystery of the Builders and their Temple was never explained further.

Mist Marsh

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Land_of_the_Lost_(1974)_-_The_Zarn's_ship.jpg
The Zarn's spacecraft rests in the Mist Marsh.

The Mist Marsh lies beyond a treeless ridge approximately one kilometer from High Bluff ("The Zarn" episode); neither Pakuni nor Sleestak venture near it. It is a dim, eerie, foggy field of dead trees, cloaked in gloom even during the day.

In the original pilot script, the "mist" is described as having actual weight where it pours through openings in the rocks much like tiny waterfalls. While walking through one of these "fogfalls", Will is actually pushed back by the force of the mist but remains completely dry.

The Zarn's spacecraft is located in the Mist Marsh. Like the Zarn himself the spacecraft is largely invisible, its streamlined shape outlined by spots of light that dot its surface. The Zarn's ship uses a gravity drive. When operating, it can cause significant increases in the local gravity field. This causes lots of activity in the Pylons and Skylons, but the Land of the Lost cannot counteract it all. In an attempt to escape the Land, the Zarn at one point attempts to use the gravity drive to destroy it entirely. The Marshalls prevent this by distracting him at a key moment, and the uncontrolled gravity badly damages the Zarn's ship instead.

Cast

Episode list

Number Title Air date Script writer Director
First Season 1974 on NBC
1 Cha-Ka September 7, 1974 David Gerrold Dennis Steinmetz
2 The Sleestak God September 14, 1974 David Gerrold Dennis Steinmetz
3 Dopey September 21, 1974 Margaret Armen Dennis Steinmetz
4 Downstream September 28, 1974 Larry Niven Dennis Steinmetz
5 Tag-Team October 5, 1974 Norman Spinrad Dennis Steinmetz
6 The Stranger October 12, 1974 Walter Koenig Bob Lally
7 Album October 19, 1974 Dick Morgan Bob Lally
8 Skylons October 26, 1974 Dick Morgan Bob Lally
9 The Hole November 2, 1974 Wina Sturgeon Dennis Steinmetz
10 The Paku who Came to Dinner November 9, 1974 Barry Blitzer Bob Lally
11 The Search November 16, 1974 Ben Bova Dennis Steinmetz
12 The Possession November 23, 1974 David Gerrold Dennis Steinmetz
13 Follow That Dinosaur November 30, 1974 Dick Morgan Dennis Steinmetz
14 Stone Soup December 7, 1974 Joyce Perry Bob Lally
15 Elsewhen December 14, 1974 D. C. Fontana Dennis Steinmetz
16 Hurricane December 21, 1974 David Gerrold and Larry Niven Bob Lally
17 Circle December 28, 1974 Larry Niven and David Gerrold Dennis Steinmetz
Second Season 1975 on NBC
1 Tar Pit September 6, 1975 Margaret Armen Gordon Wiles
2 The Zarn September 13, 1975 Dick Morgan Bob Lally
3 Fair Trade September 20, 1975 Bill Keenan Bob Lally
4 One of Our Pylons is Missing September 27, 1975 Bill Keenan Gordon Wiles
5 The Test October 4, 1975 Tom Swale Bob Lally
6 Gravity Storm October 11, 1975 Dick Morgan Bob Lally
7 The Longest Day October 18, 1975 Joyce Perry Gordon Wiles
8 The Pylon Express October 25, 1975 Theodore Sturgeon Gordon Wiles
9 A Nice Day November 1, 1975 Dick Morgan Gordon Wiles
10 Baby Sitter November 8, 1975 Bill Keenan Gordon Wiles
11 The Musician November 15, 1975 Dick Morgan and Tom Swale Gordon Wiles
12 Split Personality November 22, 1975 Dick Morgan Gordon Wiles
13 Blackout November 29, 1975 Donald F. Glut and Dick Morgan Bob Lally
Third Season 1976 on NBC
1 After-Shock September 11, 1976 Jon Kubichan Joe Scanlan
2 Survival Kit September 18, 1976 Sam Roeca Rick Bennewitz
3 The Orb September 25, 1976 Jon Kubichan Rick Bennewitz
4 Repairman October 2, 1976 Jon Kubichan Joe Scanlan
5 Medusa October 9, 1976 Greg Strangis Rick Bennewitz
6 Cornered October 16, 1976 Sam Roeca Rick Bennewitz
7 Flying Dutchman October 23, 1976 John Cutts Joe Scanlan
8 Hot-Air Artist October 30, 1976 Jon Kubichan Rick Bennewitz
9 Abominable Snowman November 6, 1976 Sam Roeca Joe Scanlan
10 Timestop November 13, 1976 Tom Swale Joe Scanlan
11 Ancient Guardian November 20, 1976 Peter Germano Joe Scanlan
12 Scarab November 27, 1976 Ian Martin Rick Bennewitz
13 Medicine Man December 4, 1976 Jon Kubichan Joe Scanlan

Theme Song lyrics

The theme song was sung by Wesley Eure, his voice multiplied into a chorus using audio effects.

Seasons 1 & 2:

Marshall, Will, and Holly, on a routine expedition, met the greatest earthquake ever known. High on the rapids, it struck their tiny raft and plunged them down a thousand feet below... to the Land of the Lost.

Season 3:

Will and Holly Marshall, as the earth beneath them trembled, lost their father through the door of time. Uncle Jack went searching and found those kids at last looking for a way to escape... from the Land of the Lost.

End title:

When I look all around, I can't believe the things I've found. Now I need to find my way. I'm lost, I'm lost, find me living in the Land of the Lost.

References in popular culture

Land of the Lost has achieved a minor cult status among those who were young in the late 1970s. References to the show occasionally crop up in modern media, such as:

  • A famous graffiti tagger in Los Angeles went by the pseudonym "Chaka", after the Paku.
  • In Stargate SG-1, an Unas that Daniel Jackson befriended and who appeared in several episodes was named "Chaka" after the Paku.
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Will Ferrell plays Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly (a reference to the first line of the theme music). In 2005, Universal Studios announced that Will Ferrell was going to star in a movie adaptation of Land of the Lost.
  • The animated show Family Guy, in the episode "The King is Dead", has Peter singing the theme song during his audition for the play.

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