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Land of the Lost (1974–1976) is a children's television series co-created and produced by Sid and Marty Krofft. During its original run, it was broadcast on the NBC television network. It has since become a cult classic and is now available on DVD. It was shot in Los Angeles, Californiamarker. Krofft Productions remade the series in 1991, also titled Land of the Lost, and a big budget film adaptation was released in 2009.

Overview

Land of the Lost details the adventures of the Marshall family (father Rick, his son Will, and younger daughter Holly) who are trapped in an alternate universe inhabited by dinosaurs, a primate-type people called Pakuni, and aggressive humanoid/lizard creatures called Sleestak. The episode storylines focus on the family's efforts to survive and find a way back to their own world, but the exploration of the exotic features of the Land of the Lost is also an ongoing part of the story.

An article on renewed studio interest in feature film versions of Land of the Lost and H.R. Pufnstuf commented that "decision-makers in Hollywood, and some big-name stars, have personal recollections of plopping down on the family-room wall-to-wall shag sometime between 1969 and 1974 to tune in to multiple reruns of the Kroffts' Saturday morning live-action hits," and quoting Marty Krofft as saying that the head of Universal Studios, Ronald Meyer, and leaders at Sony Pictures all had been fans of Krofft programs.

A number of well-respected writers in the science fiction field contributed scripts to the series, including Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon, Ben Bova, and Norman Spinrad, and a number of people involved with Star Trek, such as Dorothy "D.C." Fontana, Walter Koenig, and David Gerrold. Gerrold, Niven, and Fontana also contributed commentaries to the DVD of the first season.

The prolific Krofft team was influential in children's television, producing many oddly formatted, highly energetic, and special-effects heavy programs. Many Krofft shows have similar plots involving children accidentally trapped in other worlds, but Land of the Lost is the Kroffts' most serious treatment of the premise.

Plot and format

The Marshalls are brought to the mysterious world by means of a dimensional portal, a device used frequently throughout the series and a major part of its internal mythology. This portal opens when they are swept down a gigantic 1,000 foot waterfall. We later learn in what should have been the series finale (titled "Circle", which explains the time paradox) that this portal is actually opened by Rick Marshall himself, while in Enik's cave, as a way for the current Marshall's to return to earth, resolving the paradox and allowing Enik to also return to his time.

Outfitted only for a short camping trip, the resourceful family takes shelter in a natural cave and improvises the provisions and tools that they need to survive. Their most common and dangerous encounters are with dinosaurs, particularly a Tyrannosaurus rex they nickname "Grumpy" who frequents the location of their cave. However, many of the dinosaurs are herbivores, posing no threat to the Marshalls. One is a particularly tame young Brontosaurus whom Holly nicknames "Dopey," and whom the family looks upon as a pet.

They also tangle with menacing Sleestak (lizard-men) and "cave men" called Pakuni (one of whom, Cha-Ka, they befriend), as well as a variety of dangerous creatures, mysterious technology, and strange geography.

The main goal of the three is to find a way to return home. They are occasionally aided in this by the Altrusian castaway Enik. At the start of the third season Rick Marshall is accidentally returned to Earth alone, leaving his children behind, and is replaced by his brother Jack. Spencer Milligan's absence was explained by having Rick Marshall disappear after he was trying to use one of the pylons to get home, and that Jack had stumbled upon his niece and nephew after he embarked on a search of his own to find them.

Though the term "time doorway" is used throughout the series, Land of the Lost is not meant to portray an era in Earth's history, but rather an enigmatic zone whose place and time are unknown. The original creators of these time portals were thought to be the ancestors of the Sleestak, called Altrusians, though later episodes raised some questions about this.

Many aspects of the Land of the Lost, including the time doorways and environmental processes, were controlled by the Pylons, metallic obelisk-shaped booths that were larger on the inside than the outside and housed matrix tables — stone tables studded with a grid of colored crystals. Uncontrolled time doorways result in the arrival of a variety of visitors and castaways in the Land.

Production

Land of the Lost is notable for its epic-scale concept, which suggested an expansive world with many fantastic forms of life and mysterious technology, all created on a children's series' limited production budget. To support the internal mythology, linguist Victoria Fromkin was even commissioned to create a special language for the Pakuni, which she based on the sounds of West African speech and attempted to build into the show in a gradual way that would allow viewers to learn the language over the course of many episodes. The series' intention was to create a realistic fantasy world, albeit relying heavily on children's acceptance of minor inconsistencies.

The show played effectively to children and was an ambitious narrative project, introducing an unusually complex fantasy storyline thanks largely to first-season story editor and writer David Gerrold (in fact, in a 1999 interview, Gerrold claimed that he largely created the show, based on photographs of various science fiction tropes which were glued to a posterboard and given him by the Kroffts and co-creator Allan Foshko). [25822]

It was a marked departure from the Krofft team's previous work, which mostly featured extremely stylized puppets and sets such as those in H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville.

The series for the first two seasons was shot on a modular indoor soundstage at General Service Studios in Hollywood, and made economical use of a small number of sets and scenic props which were rearranged frequently to suggest the ostensibly vast jungles, ancient cities and cave systems. Additional locations were often rendered using scale miniatures and chromakey. During the final season, the Marshalls and Cha-ka moved from their cave to a Sleestak temple. A popular myth for the reason of this set-change is tied into the fire that destroyed the cave sets for another Krofft show Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. However, this fire took place during the second season of Sigmund, at which time Land of the Lost would have been in production of only its first season. The first two seasons of Land of the Lost were taped at a different studio entirely from that of Sigmund. The show then moved to Goldwyn Studios for its third season. This was the studio where the fire did occur two years prior that destroyed the Sigmund sets.

Spencer Milligan departed the show at the beginning of its third season for financial reasons. In addition to a salary increase, he believed it was only fair that he and the rest of the cast receive compensation for using their image on various merchandise. His character Rick Marshall was replaced by his brother, Jack Marshall, played by actor Ron Harper. Milligan did not return for the brief scene, also shown in the credits of the third season, showing Rick Marshall being transported out of the Land of the Lost. One of the show's crew played the role instead, wearing a wig resembling Milligan's hair and standing with his back to the camera.

Non-human characters were portrayed by actors in latex rubber suits, or with heavy creature make-up. Dinosaurs in the series were created using a combination of stop motion animation miniatures, rear projection film effects and occasional hand puppets for close-ups of dinosaur heads. Wesley Eure points out on a commentary track for Land of the Lost's first season DVD that the Grumpy hand puppet has no hole in the back of its throat, even though it is often seen opening its mouth wide to roar.

Special effects footage was frequently re-used. Additional visual effects were achieved using manual film overlay techniques, the low-tech ancestor to current motion control photography.

Cast



DVD Releases

From 2004 to 2005, Rhino Entertainment owned the rights to the show, and released seasons one through three, and a complete series package, with several bonus features, including commentaries, on all of the releases. Those DVDs have since gone out of print. On May 26, 2009, Universal Studios released two complete series releases, one in original packaging, and the other enclosed in a Land of the Lost vintage lunchbox; the only bonus feature was a look at the film starring Will Ferrell. On October 13, 2009, Universal released the three seasons individually; the DVDs are identical to Universal's Complete Series Boxes.

Cultural impact

Despite the short run of the series, the show continued to be aired extensively through syndication. Based on that success, a remake of the series began in 1991 and ran for two seasons. The DVDs of the series earned a Saturn nomination for best retro TV series release in 2004.

In the 2001 film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Will Ferrell plays a character named "Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly," a reference to the three main characters on Land of the Lost.. (Ferrell would later portray Rick Marshall in the 2009 film.) Comedians Daniele Gaither, Nicole Parker, Frank Caeti and Bobby Lee spoofed the series on the season finale of MADtv in 2006.

On June 5th, 2009 a feature film based on the 1974 TV series opened in U.S. theaters. Unlike the original series, which was a serious take on the story, the film is a comedy/parody. The film is directed by Brad Silberling and stars Will Ferrell, with the Krofft brothers serving as co-producers. Although the original series was aimed for children, the film's target audience is adults.

See also



References

  1. http://www.getty.net/texts/tv-67-83.txt
  2. Tim Clodfelter. "Kids vids" (review of Land of the Lost: The Complete First Season), Winston-Salem Journal, August 5, 2004, "relish" section, page 33.
  3. Mark Rahner. "Nicole Kidman and Jude Law sure are purty" (DVD review column), Seattle Times, July 2, 2004, MovieTimes section, page H22.
  4. Land of the Lost at 70sLiveKidVid
  5. Valerie Kuklenski. "If Witchiepoo, Horation J. Hoodoo ring a bell with you," Daily News of Los Angeles, March 20, 2005, page U8.
  6. tommy sheets. "Epic drama follows lovers separated by the Civil War" (Home Video column), The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), July 2, 2004, page E4.
  7. Eric Deggans. "'Star Trek' actor finds another frontier," St. Petersburg Times, January 21, 1998, page 1D.
  8. Jessica Davis. "'Cartoon' is best when it's simple," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 9, 2004, page D5.
  9. Tim Clodfelter. "Revival: the fantastic worlds of Sid and Marty Krofft are back in vogue again," Winston-Salem Journal (Winston-Salem, NC), August 17, 2000, page E1.
  10. Kevin Walker. "Masters of puppets - New videos. Movies deals on the table. Suddenly, former Saturday morning television kings Sid and Marty krofft are hot again," The Tampa Tribune, June 18, 1999, Friday Extra! section, page 20.
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