J.J. Abrams' Lost returns to television tonight, and you'll finally be able to find out what happens when those crazy Losties leave the island. But we're more interested in another (albeit smaller) group of castaways who were busy trying to get out of their own personal hell over 30 years ago. No, we're not talking about Gilligan and company. We mean Marshall, Will, and Holly. They were just a family on a routine expedition, who met the greatest earthquake ever known. It struck their tiny raft and plunged them down a thousand feet below, to the Land of the Lost. Find out more than you wanted to know about this terrific Sid and Marty Krofft show inside, including its connections with Lost, Doctor Who, and Star Trek.
- The Marshalls were stuck in a place that existed outside or normal space and time. During their stay in the Land of the Lost, they encountered a Confederate soldier, found the bones and diary of a soldier from the Revolutionary soldier, a glider pilot from the future, the weird invisible, telepathic alien named The Zarn, and Holly even met a future version of herself.
- There were Pylons scattered around the Land (hatches, anyone?) that were larger on the inside than the outside (TARDIS, anyone?). Their sole purpose was to house these funky crystal matrix chessboard tables which did everything from control the weather to open time doorways. Sadly, the Marshalls never really figured out how to work them right.
- The Sleestaks had a Library of Skulls, which contained the sentient skulls of their ancestors, who could still speak and dispense knowledge, despite being just a skull. They could also predict the future, show visions, and annoy the hell out of people who just wanted a straight answer. Plus they ran things for the Sleestaks and told them what to do. Kind of like that mysterious Jacob ghost/spirit/whatever the hell thing on Lost.
- If you screwed up a Pylon or it started malfunctioning, these bizarre flying shapes would appear in the sky and flash the colors that you'd need to arrange on the matrix table in order to fix things. Rick Marshall dubbed them Skylons, and they appeared to be some form of automated repair units with limited artificial intelligence. Black smoke monster, anyone? Bueller?
- The Sleestaks were descendants of the Altrusians, an alien race who lived a thousand years before the Sleestaks. They were shorter than them, had an extra digit on each hand, and had limited psionic abilities. Plus they weren't nearly as creepy.
- The Land of the Lost existed inside its own closed universe. The Marshalls once tried to take the river out of the land, but found that it looped around and put them back right where they started. In another episode, Holly descended into a pit on a rope, and found herself dangling upside down over the Land. Just like the Hotel California and the island on Lost, you can check in, but you can never leave.
- David Gerrold's backstory for the series explains that the Altrusians actually built the Land as a way-station intended to let travelers cross between various places. The time doorways are gateways which allow users to cross into the Land on their way to their destination. The reason that travel through the time doorways is unpredictable, at best, is that the Land has fallen into disrepair in the time since it was built.
- While the Sleestaks might have been scary as hell, they only had three of those rubber suits, so they couldn't have more than that on the screen at the same time. The producers had to rely on the miracle of editing whenever they wanted it to seem like a Sleestak army was on your ass. Fairly ironic because the Library of Skulls says that the Sleestak number about 7,000.
- The furry Pakunis on the show actually had their own language, created by Professor Victoria A. Fromkin from UCLA, who also created the vampire language for Blade. Keep in mind, this was a Saturday morning kids show that had its own invented language. Not too shabby.
- Sleestaks were played by UCLA basketball players, because they were tall enough to fit the suits. Future Detroit Pistons star Bill Laimbeer famously played a Sleestak for awhile.
- Harlan Ellison submitted a treatment for a Land of the Lost script, but it was never produced. However, you can read a copy of it here.
- David Gerrold who wrote "The Trouble With Tribbles" episode of Star Trek and science fiction writer Larry Niven of Ringworld fame were both writers on the series. Gerrold even served as story editor.
- The intelligent and friendly Sleestak named Enik first appeared in a script written by Walter Koenig of Star Trek fame, and was supposed to be named Eneg. This was a tribute to Gene Roddenberry, since it was his name spelled backwards, but the producers nixed it.
- In order for something to leave the Land of the Lost, something of equal mass had to enter. The show used this in both clever and idiotic ways. At the end of Season One, the Enik explains to them that they can leave, but in doing so they also cause the event that brings them into the Land of the Lost in the first place, so they're stuck inside a repeating loop forever. They did this in case the show didn't get picked up after its first year, but then they never explained how they broke the loop in Season Two. That's the fairly clever way.
The dumb way was in that the actor who played Rick Marshall left the show after Season Two, so in Season Three an earthquake accidentally knocks him into a time doorway (it was actually one of the producers seen from behind and wearing a wig) and he vanishes. However, moments later the Marshall's Uncle Jack (Rick's brother) appears. Seems like he's been looking for them since they vanished. How very convenient.
- If reading this has made you want to go back and rewatch this entire series, or maybe see it for the first time (like it did for me), you can pick up all three seasons in a DVD box set for fairly cheap. Just don't blame us when you get sucked in.
Image by The UncredibleSkulk