Marshall, Will and Holly Land of the Lost
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,
Into the Laaaaaaaaaaaand of the Looooooooooooost
The Laaaaaaaaaaaand of the Looooooooooooost
is a 1974-1977 NBC Saturday morning Science Fiction
kids' program created by Sid and Marty Krofft
, Allan Foshko and an uncredited David Gerrold, and produced by Sid & Marty Krofft Productions
. A small family of outdoorsy tastes are thrust into a Lost World
that initially appears to be some kind of "Hollow Earth" scenario, but later turns out to be a pocket universe. The Land of the Lost is a tropical jungle home to a wide variety of creatures long extinct on Earth including an amusing family of hominids and several large and threatening dinosaurs. And in an ancient ruined city, they find a race of aggressive but light-sensitive insect-lizard people called "Sleestaks" by a mysterious message written in English on a wall near its entrance.
The Marshall family must make their home amidst this alien terrain and defend themselves from its dangers. They find surprising allies — the previously-mentioned family of hominids, a time-lost scholar from the distant past of the Land, and the occasional visitor like themselves — and slowly learn a few of the secrets of the builders of the Land, but never do find their way home. (One episode, however, states outright that at least Holly will escape by her twenties with some mastery of the ancient technology; another shows the family leaving but, in a strange time loop, entering the Land at the same time.)
Although the show is probably best remembered for the bizarre mix of decent stop-motion and positively awful puppetry
used to portray the various dinosaurs, it is more notable for the general high quality of its scripts, which were frequently written by "name" Science Fiction
authors. Any given week might showcase a story written by Gerrold (the show's story editor in season one), Ben Bova, Theodore Sturgeon
, Larry Niven
, Norman Spinrad
, Samuel Peeples or D.C. Fontana, all of whom contributed to the increasingly complex and intriguing mythology
of the series. (Note: None of them contributed to the final season.)Revived in 1991
for two seasons; also got a movie adaptation
Land of the Lost provides examples of:
- Aliens and Monsters: The Sleestak.
- Aliens Speaking English: Enik. Justified, since he's telepathic (or at least, the Magete artifact grants its wielder telepathy).
- Alien Sky: The Land has three moons that move very rapidly.
- Alternate Universe
- Alternate History
- Anachronism Stew: Justified by the nature of the Land.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Wesley Eure occasionally sang songs at the end of episodes to deliver An Aesop.
- And Now For Something Completely Different: Definitely stands out among other Krofft shows; while it features characters trapped in a strange land, trying to get home (like most other Krofft shows), this is much more dramatic, and has a lot more action and adventure, compared to the Kroffts' other, more fluffier shows.
- Another Dimension
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Bamboo Technology: Reasonably realistic survival-skill constructions.
- Bigger on the Inside: The pylons.
- Breath Weapon: Torchy the fire-breathing dinosaur.
- Continuity Creep
- Constructed Language: The Pakuni language was created by an academic at the behest of NBC execs.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: The Altrusian technology is what's left of such a civilization.
- Dinosaurs Are Dragons: The fire-breathing Torchy.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Played straight with The Zarn who feels physical pain from the emotion. Obviously, this is an incentive for him to be a Jerkass villain.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs
- Expository Theme Tune
- Failure Is the Only Option: Mildly subverted in one episode in which the family actually left the Land, but only to balance the entry of their own analogues, who took up the story.
- Gainax Ending: Since the show's creators didn't know if there would be a second season, Larry Niven and David Gerrold wrote "The Circle" to provide an ambiguous ending that they could continue from if they needed to. You can either assume that the Marshalls really do get home, and that their past selves' arrival is simply a flashback to the beginning of the series (in other words, the time doorway that pulled them into the Land in the first place is the very one they eventually created to escape from it); or you can assume that the second season episodes are actually set after "The Circle," which would mean that that Marshall family are temporal duplicates. Note that many fans simply place "The Circle" at the end of the second season, giving the Marshalls a true happy ending and ignoring the third season entirely. Also note a small clue that Niven and Gerrold probably favored the first rather than the second interpretation: when the "newly arrived" Marshalls find their cave, there are no signs of a previous Marshall family having lived there, meaning that we really are just re-watching the events from the beginning of the series.
- Genetic Memory: S'Latch has innate knowledge of Altrusian technology.
- Green Rocks: The light crystals.
- Hulk Speak: Cha-Ka. Justified in that he's a primitive humanoid learning English for the first time. The Marshalls do not do much better with Pakuni. They each get better at each other's languages over the course of the show.
- Invisible Aliens: The Zarn and his ship are literally invisible, except as a rough outline of twinkling lights.
- It Only Works Once: Basically everything they could use to escape.
- In "The Pylon Express," they discover a portal that reopens every three years, so they know that if they're still stuck in the Land by then, they'll be able to use it.
- The Zarn is a pompous ivory-tower academic who has no problem destroying The Land and everyone in it while attempting to escape it.
- Taa the Paku is also this on a smaller level, being pretty much a bully and petty thief who lies to the humans and other Pakuni to make himself look more important.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Enik is usually pretty gruff about the Marshalls coming to him for help or advice, complaining that they're interrupting his own research to get home; but he clearly regards them as friends and consistently provides them with the help they need. He's just grouchy about it. He mellows toward the Marshalls over the course of the series, and is downright friendly by the end of season 2.
- Long Runner: Only by Krofft standards, otherwise, it's more of a Short Runner.
- Lost World
- Lost Technology: The Sleestak city, the Pylons, possibly even the Land itself since it was a closed system pocket dimension.
- Mentor: Enik — sometimes.
- Mind Screw: The aforementioned episode where they do escape, but their counterparts take their place.
- Muppet: Dinosaur puppetry.
- Mushroom Samba: In "The Longest Day," the Sleestak capture Rick and put him in a room with vapors that mess with his mind. He sees Will and Holly in there with him, in multiple identities, but when he escapes they tell him they never even managed to enter the Lost City.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Justified, Enik is from the era when the Sleestaks were civilized. In Enik's earlier appearances, he claimed to be from the future, but quickly found out he was from the past, and that modern Sleestaks are the degenerate, savage descendants of his own people. And their ancestors.
- Neglectful Precursors
- Nerf Arm
- Non-Human Sidekick: Cha-ka
- Ontological Mystery
- People in Rubber Suits
- Power Crystal
- Put on a Bus: An earthquake opens a time portal that sends Rick back home in the Season 3 premiere.
- Real Men Cook: Will and Holly get intto an argument about her cooking abilities in one episode. She says cooking's traditionally a female activity and he counters most famous chefs are men.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Sleestaks are bad. Enik is the exception, although he's still grumpy and in a lot of cases needs to be persuaded to take time out to help the Marshalls.
- Saharan Shipwreck
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Enik's goal is to return to his own time and prevent the downfall of his civilization, which produced the post-apocalyptic world he and the Marshalls are stuck in.
- Shoot the Money: Necessary, when your budget is less than the gas and tolls spent getting to the studio. Whatever sets and props you have, you use for everything.
- Speculative Fiction Series
- The Spock: Enik
- Stable Time Loop: One interpretation of "The Circle."
- Stock Footage
- Stock Dinosaurs
- Stone Soup
- Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology: The stone control tables full of crystals. To be fair, they may only look so rough because they're really, really old, but you'd think the pylons would protect them from the weather. Maybe the Altrusians just liked the "rocky" aesthetic. We do get the briefest glimpse of the Lost City in its glory days in "The Pylon Express," and it defies this trope, looking like a properly high tech science fiction city.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Uncle Jack. And, technically, the entire family after their exchange with their Alternate Universe counterparts.
- Time Portal
- Time Travel
- Trapped in Another World
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Zarn is actually hurt by negative emotions. At one point he tries to escape in a manner which will collapse the universe, killing everyone except him. The heroes are understandably angry with him — which is enough to stop him.
- Weather Control Machine: It's heavily implied that the Land itself is artificial. The different pylons control various aspects of the place, from the weather to the sun's passage across the sky. Messing with them can royally screw up the environment; but since they are so old and unattended, they are prone to breaking down occasionally all on their own.
- Zombie Gait: The Sleestak, the hissing 3 mph menace.