Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Land of the Lost: Part Two

Part One: Episodes 1-6

Episode 7: Album

This is a dark episode in which the Sleestaks create an elaborate-to-the-point-of-ludicrous trap for the Marshalls. They somehow create a high-pitched, whining sound that only Will can hear at first. This draws him to the Lost City where he sees a vision of his dead mother calling to him from the other side of what he supposes is a time portal. For some reason, he's unable to tell anyone about what he sees (he later mentions wanting to, but being hindered by an undefined force), but Holly eventually starts to hear the noise and is also drawn to the Lost City to see Mom. Ultimately, Rick - noticing that his kids are acting strangely - follows them to the City and uncovers the Sleestak plot. It's all been a ruse to capture the family and sacrifice them to the pit monster.

It's never explained how the Sleestaks managed the intelligence to build their trap. Have they always been that smart and just seemed stupid? Later episodes don't really bear that out. It's also a mystery how the Sleestaks figured out what Ma Marshall looked like. Rick hypothesizes that it was just a general hypnosis that made the family see what they loved most, but it's a bit convenient that they all saw exactly the same thing - even to the point of Ma's wearing the same clothes and repeating the same phrases in each vision. And if it was a general hypnosis, how did the Sleestaks achieve such specific results like being able to target who they wanted?

Apparently, you're not supposed to think that deeply about it, which makes the episode lame.

Episode 8: Skylons

Up until this episode, the strange, gold-colored obelisks (called Pylons by the family) that are scattered around the Land of the Lost have been noticed, but never explored. When Holly sees a trio of diamond-shaped objects (eventually dubbed Skylons) floating near a Pylon, she and Will go to investigate. Through a series of (more or less believable) coincidences, Will is able to open a hidden door in the Pylon.

Inside, the kids find a control panel and start to mess around with it. As they do so, the weather outside grows more and more fierce, endangering not only the family, but the dinosaurs and other inhabitants of the Land of the Lost as well. It's Rick who notices that the Skylons are still around, flashing a repeating series of lights. He figures out that the series of lights is the key to using the Pylon's control panel to reverse Will and Holly's weather changes.

Rick also hypothesizes that the Skylons were put there by Enik's people to maintain the Pylons, which now seem like nothing more than ancient weather-control stations. But, as we'll see in a few episodes, the Pylons are more than that. Or can at least be used for more than that.

Episode 9: The Hole

This isn't an especially original plot. Rick ends up in the hole where the Sleestak's god lives and has to work with his fellow victim - a Sleestak - to escape. It is a fun episode though and potentially important due to the Sleestak victim's being intelligent and English-speaking. He reveals that every so often a non-violent Sleestak is born, but that they're always sacrificed as soon as they're found out.

We also learn that there's another way of getting down into the hole. Will and Holly show up to rescue Rick, but he's already escaped with his new friend. The other Sleestaks attack though and the Marshalls run down a small cave-passage that leads back into the pit. Oddly though, they don't escape the pit back up the passage, but use Rick's much-more-difficult, original route. Although, it is pretty foggy in the hole, so maybe they couldn't find the tunnel again.

Most importantly though, the reason that Rick's anywhere near the Sleestaks and their hole is that he and Will have been coming back to the Lost City to use Enik's equipment. They hope to be able to figure out a way to get back home themselves. I don't recall their conversation exactly and I might be mixing this episode up with "The Search" (see below), but I'm pretty sure that it was during this episode that I began to suspect that Enik either hadn't made it home in his episode ("The Stranger") or was still occasionally travelling to the Land of the Lost. "The Search" reveals which.

Episode 10: The Paku Who Came to Dinner

In Part One, I mentioned some "uncomfortable goings on between Holly and the pakuni." This is where that happens.

It's a strange episode all around. It starts off almost like a clip show with Rick and Holly watching Dopey and his apatosaurus family and reminiscing about how they first met the "little" dinosaur. But then the story abandons that path when the Marshalls run into Cha-Ka who helps them move some crops. Holly rewards Cha-Ka with a little kiss and a flower and the monkey-boy accompanies them home for dinner. This seems kind of sweet at first, but gets weird once they arrive at the cave.

As the meal's being prepared, Holly puts on lipstick and some perfume. I'm trying to see the episode through the innocence of childhood and I guess this could be a statement about Holly's growing up and taking more of an interest in her appearance, but after the kiss and the flower and with Cha-Ka sitting over there at the table, it really comes across like she's making herself attractive for him.

Then there's the bit where Holly's perfume drives Cha-Ka nuts. He can't stop sniffing at her. I don't remember how it goes down, but eventually Holly's outside and Cha-Ka's family members Ta and Sa react to the perfume the same way when they meet her. In fact, they kidnap her and take her back to their enclosure. By now, "innocence of childhood" has gone right out the window and I'm very concerned with the direction of the story, especially since I've got no idea what gender Ta and Sa are, much less what their sexual preferences might be. They've always been aggressively distrustful of the Marshalls under even the best of circumstances. What kind of harm is Holly in danger of?

I shouldn't have worried. This was a Saturday-morning children's show after all. Holly's perfume - for whatever reason she put it on - has an intoxicating effect on the pakuni, but that's it. They just like it and want it for themselves. When Rick and Will show up, they rescue Holly by leaving her jacket behind for the pakuni to keep and that satisfies the monkey-people. Still... yikes. I challenge any adult to watch this episode from a modern perspective and not be seriously worried for Holly.

One bit of world-building that occurs in this one is that we get to see where the pakuni live: enclosures that they've built out of bamboo. There's no roof and no furniture, but I'm frankly surprised that they're dexterous and intelligent enough to tie all that bamboo together. I figured they lived in trees or caves or something.

Episode 11: The Search

Big name science fiction writer Ben Bova tells a story about the Marshalls' finding some more crystals and Rick's being violently shocked by touching some of them the wrong way. Most of the episode is about whether Will and Holly are capable of surviving should anything happen to their dad. Holly manages to take Rick back to their cave while Will runs to try to find Enik, hopeful that Enik can help save Rick's life.

Apparently, Enik is still stuck in the Land of the Lost, which really makes me want to go back and watch "The Stranger" again. Did I miss something there or have the writers retroactively changed the end of that story so that Enik is trapped here? Either way, Will finds Enik this time just as the Sleestak-ancestor is about to finally open the portal that will take him home. Will's unable to convince Enik to delay his escape because Enik's not sure he can repeat it. What Enik is able to do though is to find a portal leading back to the Marshalls' world. The thing is though that Will would have to take it right then, abandoning his dad and Holly.

Will refuses to take the escape route, which shames Enik into giving up his plans too. Apparently there's something in Enik's culture that doesn't allow him to act less nobly than someone of another species. He goes to the Marshalls' cave with Will and shows the kids how to reverse the effects of the crystal on their father.

I think Will's supposed to be more noble in this episode than he was in his last encounter with Enik, but it only applies to his own family. He's perfectly willing to strand Enik again if it means helping Rick. If this were an isolated incident, I could understand and agree with that line of thinking, but after Will's awful behavior in "The Stranger," I just see a repeat of Will's being a selfish jerk.

Episode 12: The Possession

This is another dark episode in which one of the Pylons opens by itself and Cha-Ka goes inside. He finds a glowing baton-like object that takes over his mind and hurts anyone who tries to take it away from him. Until he meets Holly, that is, and the baton takes her over instead.

The rest of the episode is Rick and Will trying to rescue Holly from the device's control. Ultimately, they learn that it's a trap of sorts; intended to force the baton's holder to free a being who's trapped in the Pylon. Rick figures out that the being is one of Enik's people who was imprisoned there because he was mad for power. He's possibly one of the first of Enik's people to start the decline to what eventually became the Sleestaks.

At any rate, there's obviously more to the Pylons than just weather-control.

Next time: We'll finish up Season One with more time travel, more Enik, and the revelation of who wrote that "Beware of Sleestak" warning in English.


Wings1295 said...

I love your summaries. And I love that the show still holds up, even if some of the effects are out-dated by today's standards. They story itself holds up. Great stuff. We watched the episodes when SyFy Channel had the marathons back when the (crap) movie came out, and my kids got as hooked on it all as I used to be. Great feeling! :)

Michael May said...

Yeah, I wish David (my seven-year-old) weren't so spooked by the Sleestaks. If it weren't for that, he'd love the show.

Decarriado said...

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Merry Xmas.


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