Now that the entire series is available on DVD, I've had the chance to revisit this blast from the past. (Now, if they'd just get Wonderbug digital.)
Yes, it's true, by almost any standard, the special effects are low budget...and they were. The target audience was kids on Saturday morning. But I've come to realize that "Land of the Lost" belongs in the 'teleplay' class of programming. If you've ever seen a video of "Into The Woods" the musical or other stage work, you know what I'm talking about. If you watch it as if it were a performance of a story rather than the actual representation of something that happened (reality tv generation I'm talking to you) then it's much more palatable.
In the pilot episode, it becomes evident that one of the aims of the show is to teach kids:
- a positive attitude about the nature of discovery
- being level-headed and resourceful when you are in a dire situation
- respect for other creatures in the world (Rick tells Holly about Cha-ka "people don't own people")
The teleplay example is ever evident in Rod Serling's delivery pre and post-story during the "Twilight Zone" and "Night Gallery" and while it takes a more literal approach, I believe that the modern viewer must understand that treasures like "Land of the Lost" requires you to suspend your disbelief on such a level that your imagination must fill in the gaps, much the way you must do when reading a book.
This classic series should be updated, no doubt, but I don't believe that the story should be butchered the way it was during the brief remake a few years back (the truck never ran out of gas? c'mon...that's just silly.) I respect the storytelling of the original series and wish that up-and-coming sci-fi writers could be tapped for a similar series which would interest kids today in much the same way we were as kids. The show was a vehicle, the same way Star Trek was, to ask questions about the world around us, veiled in interesting fiction. In these ways I believe "Land of the Lost" was way ahead of its time and while I am not a big fan of some of the pyschelic product of Krofft, even "Sigmund the Sea Monster" has its place. Whether as a commentary on the prevalent drug culture of the 70's (Puff N Stuff, Magic Flute, Lidsville) or as a time capsule (when was THAT hair or those jeans actually cool?), we can learn from the archive of the television culture...it's made many of us who we are today.