Wednesday, October 17, 2012

LAND OF THE LOST (1974-77)

PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTION: * psychological, cosmological, sociological*

I'm not sure why I didn't watch LAND OF THE LOST back in the day.  I assume that I thought I'd become too old for it, since it was focused on a younger age-bracket.  Over the years I heard a lot of good things about the relatively consistent treatment of the sci-fi concept, which dealt with three modern-day people-- adult Rick Marshall and his two kids Will and Holly-- being transported into a prehistoric universe inhabited by dinosaurs, ape-people, and a race of reptillian humanoids possessed of a half-understood ancient technology.  But I didn't check it out, even though I'd heard that a number of famed SF-prose writers contributed scripts, including David Gerrold, Ben Bova and Theodore Sturgeon.

Having watched all three seasons now, I'm sure I would have liked it when I was in the age-range of the show's kid-characters. The stories are simple but logical, and show good sentiment without becoming treacly.  Considering that this was the period during which children's television shows were expected to exhibit "prosocial values," LOST's stories make their prosocial points with a minimum of preachments.

Symbolically speaking, LOST's most interesting facet is how it opposes the friendly humanoid ape-men, the "Pakuni," against the inflexibly hostile reptile-men, the "Sleestack."  The Pakuni, though sometimes slow to accept the humans and their makeshift technology, suggest the appeal of humanity's anthropoid ancestors, and their ability to learn from the Marshalls suggests their ability to move forward.  In contrast, though the Sleestack possess technological knowledge handed down from their ancestors, they remain locked in primitivism and are unable to move forward-- revealing perhaps more commonality with the Satanic snake in Eden than the Land's furry versions of Adam (and presumably Eve, though no female Pakuni are seen). Only one Sleestack named Enik (Enoch?) retains knowledge, but he is a time-traveler and not typical of his people.

The third and final season becomes a little too much like Gilligan's Island, as far too many "guest-stars" are allowed to pass through the time-vortex and join the Earthpeople-- which by this time included the kids' uncle, brought in to replace the actor who'd been playing the father but chose to split from the show.  There was less emphasis on believable science in the last season as well, but this didn't turn out as badly as it could have-- and I confess I like the invention of Torchy, the fire-breathing sailback dino (seen above).

As I reached the series' end, I didn't expect a wrap-up. I didn't get one, either.  But even though I didn't grow up with this show, I rather wished the producers had allowed the kids to escape the Land of the Lost.

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