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Series / The Lost World (2001)

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The Lost World is a 2001 TV miniseries based on the novel The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle, and co-produced by A&E and the BBC. It stars Bob Hoskins as Professor Challenger and a variety of prehistoric creatures created by the team behind Walking with Dinosaurs.

The miniseries follows the plot of the novel, in which Professor Challenger leads an expedition to a remote South American plateau where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures have survived, but adds some deconstruction of the novel's attitudes, and a thread reflecting on the conflict between creationism and evolutionary science, with the former represented by a missionary who attempts to sabotage the expedition. His niece, Agnes, ends up joining the expedition.


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  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Ned Malone is rejected by the girl he loves because he's never done anything adventurous, so he joins the Challenger expedition to prove himself, but discovers on his return that she's engaged to marry someone else. Which is okay, because in the mean time he's fallen in love with Agnes. (Agnes, to her and the writers' credit, is suspicious of how quickly he switches his attention to her, and accuses him of just being on the rebound.)
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Challenger successfully convinces the press that the prehistoric plateau is real before changing his mind when he realises how much damage mankind could do to it.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The last episode ends with Challenger announcing that he's found a clue to the location of Atlantis and asking for volunteers for his next expedition.
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  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The Ape Men respond to Malone untying them by masking his scent to protect him from an approaching allosaurus.
  • Bring It Back Alive: A Pteranodon is dramatically unveiled in London, proving that Challenger was right.
  • British Stuffiness: Professor Summerlee and Professor Illingworth, played respectively by professional stuffy Englishmen James Fox and Robert Hardy.
  • The Cameo: In a way, the Diplodocus and Entelodont, as their CGI models seem to be re-used from Walking with Dinosaurs and Walking with Beasts respectively.
  • Canon Foreigner: Reverend Theo Kerr and Agnes Clooney. Kerr strands the others in the plateau, taking Gomez's role from the novel.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • At the beginning of the expedition, Roxton brags that his rifle can take down an elephant and Malone points out that there are no elephants in Brazil. The elephant gun ends up finishing off the two allosaurs that attack the village.
    • Roxton and Maree's hunting method.
    • When a pterosaur steals their dinner, Kerr is convinced that it was simply a large vulture. Malone uses the same lie to keep the plateau a secret.
  • Expy: Reverend Theo Kerr fills the role of the treacherous Gomez and his niece Agnes fills the role of Enid Challenger, who did not appear until "The Land of Mist", as Ned's love interest.
  • First-Name Basis: Challenger calls Professor Summerlee "Leo" at the initial lecture, but the two stick to "Professor Challenger" and "Professor Summerlee" for the journey to the plateau. Once they are in the plateau and face mortal danger numerous times, they wind up using "George" and "Leo".
  • Great White Hunter: Lord John Roxton.
  • Gun Struggle: This is how the conflict with Rev. Theo Kerr concludes. When Prof. Summerlee has had enough of him trying to stop their expedition, even at gunpoint, they end up struggling and a bullet mortally wounds the reverend.
  • I Choose to Stay: Roxton stays on the plateau at the end with the native tribe and the woman he's fallen in love with.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: An Allosaurus falling into a deep, spiky trap at the beginning of Episode 2.
  • It Can Think: The ape men are initially seen as mindless, violent cannibals, but are later seen mourning their dead with a burial (with flowers, no less). Challenger is fascinated by this, despite their earlier attempt to eat him.
  • Living Dinosaurs: Most of the fauna of the South American plateau.
  • Lost World: The high altitude and physical isolation of the plateau is the justification for why all kinds of weird things survive there.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: Prof. Summerlee lampshades the strange combination of flora he finds on the plateau.
    Summerlee: They shouldn't even be growing in the same hemisphere!
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Invoked as a minor Running Gag, with Edward repeatedly correcting people on this ("But there are no elephants in Brazil!"), and then being told not to be so pedantic.
  • Obstructive Zealot: Rev. Theo Kerr, a missionary who attempts to prevent the expedition reaching the plateau and bringing back evidence of dinosaurs.
  • Palate Propping: This is done to a rampaging Allosaurus. It only incommodes it for a few moments, though, before it snaps the piece of wood between its jaws.
  • Prehistoric Monster: The miniseries deconstructs a lot of the imperialistic thinking of its source material, showing the dinosaurs, and the much-maligned ape-men, to be well-adapted, often beautiful, and sometimes fairly intelligent creatures. That said, the ape-men are utterly hideous under that makeup. Notably, a major subplot (and one completely absent from the book), has Prof. Challenger preventing the natives of the plateau from exterminating the ape-men, but in doing so — and imposing his own values on them — he inadvertently brings disaster to the village when the vengeful ape-men summon a pair of Allosauruses, and the series ends with him and the other explorers deciding to keep the plateau a secret in order to protect its inhabitants, while the book seems fairly cheerful about the possibility that they'll all go extinct, because they're monsters and that's what they deserve. This trope also shows up in-universe with Prof. Summerlee, who, representing the kind of paleontology contemporary to the 1911 setting, refers to an Allosaurus in one scene as a "creature from Hell", and indeed, we see little of the Allosaurs beyond their hunger. On the other hand, there's a charming scene of Malone befriending a Hypsilophodon.
  • Promoted to Love Interest:
    • Roxton gets a romance with one of the women of the native tribe that has made its home on the plateau. (In the book, none of the tribe members are individual characters.)
    • Malone ends up with Agnes, a completely new character invented for this adaptation.

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