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Marshall, Will and Holly
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
(lost lost lost lost...)
Land of the Lost is a 1974-1977 NBC Saturday morning Science Fiction kids' program created by David Gerrold and produced by Sid and 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, 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.
- Aliens and Monsters: The Sleestak.
- Aliens Speaking English: Enik
- 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.
- Another Dimension
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Bamboo Technology: Reasonably realistic survival-skill constructions.
- Continuity Creep
- Constructed Language: The Pakuni language was created by an academic at the behest of NBC execs.
- Contrived Coincidence: Uncle Jack arriving in the Land at almost exactly the same time Rick Marshall was ejected from it.
- 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.
- Genetic Memory: Enik 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.
- Invisible Aliens: Zarn.
- It Only Works Once: Basically everything they could use to escape.
- 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 was usually pretty gruff about the Marshalls coming to him for help or advice, complaining that they were interrupting his own research to get home; but he clearly regarded them as friends and consistently provided them with the help they needed. He was just grouchy about it.
- Lost World
- Lost Technology: The Sleestak city, the Pylons, possibly even the Land itself since it was a closed system pocket dimension.
- Mentors: Enik -- sometimes.
- Mind Screw: The aforementioned episode where they do escape, but their counterparts take their place.
- Muppet: Dinosaur puppetry.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Justified, Enik is a genetic throwback to the Sleestaks' civilized ancestors. 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.
- Nerf Arm
- Non-Human Sidekick: Cha-ka
- Only One Name: Wesley Eure was billed simply as "Wesley" in the show's credits.
- Ontological Mystery
- People in Rubber Suits: The Sleestak.
- Power Crystal
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Played straight: The Sleestaks are bad. Averted: Enik, not so much.
- 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
- Stock Footage
- Stock Dinosaurs
- Stone Soup
- 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 and moons' 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.