“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.”
Perhaps one of the most fondly remembered live-action series to ever grace the Saturday morning airwaves, Land of the Lost stranded a family of modern humans in a prehistoric setting where they had to contend with underdeveloped technology, strange people and of course, a few hungry dinosaurs. The brainchild of iconic children’s show producers, Sid and Marty Krofft, Land of the Lost was far from being just typical campy and kooky Saturday morning fare; it was a well-written and ambitious offering and its continued popularity is a testament to its quality.
Debuting in 1974 on NBC, Land of the Lost told the tale of a father named Rick Marshall, a forest ranger who becomes trapped in a primeval alternate world with his two teen children, Will and Holly. In their new world, the must contend with an aggressive species of creature, part insect and part reptile, called the Sleestaks, as well as huge carnivorous dinos such as Big Alice and Grumpy who torment the Marshalls at every opportunity. Luckily, not all inhabitants of this strange world were out to cause them harm. They found a kinship with a few members of the indigenous Pakuni tribe, notably a kind-natured boy named Cha-ka who became a friend to Holly. She also managed to tame a baby dinosaur named Dopey who provided transportation when necessary. Dad also managed to win the respect of one of the elder Sleestaks, who taught him ways to use the various magic crystals that could open doors into other dimensions.
The third season brought a newcomer to the group, Rick’s brother Jack, who had been sucked into their world while trying to rescue the group. His arrival also had the unfortunately side effect of sucking Rick out of the world, meaning that the group would forever remain a trio.
Out of all of the Sid and Marty Krofft offerings – including Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and H.R. Pufnstuf, they clearly scored their biggest hit with Land of the Lost, a show that has developed quite a cult following over the years. The ambitious use of special effects, the compelling story lines (written in part by quite a few established science fiction writers) and a covert effort to inject a little educational material whenever possible, all combined to make the show a hit with young viewers everywhere.
After 43 episodes and a three-year run, Land of the Lost left the airwaves in 1976. That is, until the networks brought back the series in 1991, featuring an all-new cast that consisted of Father Tom and his kids, Annie and Kevin. It lasted for two seasons of its own and spawned a big merchandising campaign, but even with far more advanced special effects, the remake didn’t quite manage to match the charm of the original series. Also failing to match said charm was the 2009 film remake starring Will Ferrell, which failed to generate much enthusiasm at the box office. All told, it is the original series whose memories fondly remain, even decades after the show’s demise.
If you woke up early on Saturday mornings to catch Land of the Lost each week, we hope you’ll share your memories of this beloved series with all of us in our comments section, as we tip our hats to Sid and Marty for a true classic.