May 21, 2022

LAND OF THE LOST (1991)

 

LAND OF THE LOST (1991)
(ABC, September 7, 1991-December 5, 1992)
 
Krofft Entertainment
 
MAIN CAST:
Timothy Bottoms – Tom Porter
Robert Gavin – Kevin Porter
Jennifer Drugan – Anamarie “Annie” Porter
Ed Gale – Tasha, Magas
Danny Mann – Tasha (voice)
 
 

Long before reboots became the king of entertainment, Sid and Marty Krofft were called upon to produce a reboot of one of their previous programs: Land of the Lost. ABC had been monitoring the success and positive press CBS was seeing in response to their airings of the original, and how they and NBC found equal success with their live-action offerings Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Saved by the Bell, respectively. Enter the new Land of the Lost, their first new foray into live-action on Saturday morning. 


The Porter family.


Like the original, Land of the Lost centered on a modern family that found themselves suddenly trapped in a strange, three-mooned prehistoric world of Altrusia. While on a camping trip, an earthquake opened up a chasm that they fell into, leading to a dimensional portal they drove through to safety. Replacing the Marshalls from the original were the Porters: widowed father Tom (Timothy Bottoms), a lawyer who threw himself into his work after his wife’s death but tried to make time for his kids with those frequent weekend camping trips; 16-year-old Kevin (Robert Gavin), who was laid-back to the point of being oblivious to danger and considered himself an adult, often leading to his being actively disobedient; and 11-year-old Annie (Jennifer Drugan), a vegetarian who harbored a bit of resentment towards her family always treating her like an incapable baby (and often proving that perception wrong). Unlike the Marshalls, the Porters had a lot of gear with them in their Jeep, allowing them to outfit their lavish treehouse with many of the comforts of home including radios, a portable television (which allowed them to track portal openings via electromagnetic interference) and a video camera (used by Kevin to chronicle their adventure). They also adopted a humanoid Parasaurolophus, named Tasha (Ed Gale in the suit, Danny Mann voicing) by Annie after her mother (voiced by Marta DuBois), after finding her egg.

Shung


Returning from the original series were the villainous humanoid reptile Sleestaks; however, instead of a whole race focus was largely placed on three that were expelled from their society. Shung (Tom Allard) was their leader. He was arrogant and believed himself the ruler of the land. He used a powerful crystal that gave him telekinetic and telepathic powers to enforce his will Nim (R.C. Tass & Brian Williams) and Keeg (Ross Kramer & Bret Davidson) were his unintelligent underlings that did what they could to please him. They used special crystals as power sources, which the Porters would come to adopt to power their own electronics. To mine for the crystals, the Sleestaks utilized the slave labor of the Paku; a tribe of humanoid primates basically wiped out by their servitude. Unlike the original, the Paku were largely limited to appearances by a single member: Stink (Bobby Porter), who had keen senses, incredible agility, active curiosity and a wacky sense of humor. The new series chose to abandon the special Pakuni language developed for the original, instead making Stink quick to pick-up and adopt English words and phrases with some Pakuni sprinkled in. Stink’s grandfather, Opah (Jonas Mascartolo), was the only other Paku seen.

Stink and Christa.


Newly created was the character of Christa (Shannon Day). Like the Porters, she ended up trapped in the land with her family as a young girl (Farrah Emami). Separated from them during an attempt to find civilization, she grew up alone and came to befriend Stink and a triceratops she named “Princess” after her dog, which she used as transportation. She had largely blocked out memories of her past life. Christa and Stink would eventually befriend the Porters and help them on occasion. Kevin, being a teenaged boy, often fawned over the attractive Christa while Stink often had a turbulent relationship with Tasha.

Futuristic cyborg Cy.


Additionally, there were a number of dinosaurs seen on the show; in particular a Tyrannosaurus dubbed “Scarface” because of the scar over his eye. He was extremely violent towards everyone, and often tried to take down the Porters’ treehouse. A number of guest characters also popped into the land via the portals, including Sir Balen (Bobby Jacoby), a squire pretending to be a knight from King Arthur’s Court; Keela (Adilah Barnes), a sorceress banished there by evil sorcerer Magas (Gale); Siren (DuBois), a woman whose vanity led her to be banished and preventing her from joining her loved ones in the afterlife; and time travelers Simon Cardenas (Danny Gonzalez) and the rancor-like cyborg Cy who collided with each other and knocked themselves off course.

Scarface goes after Tom.

Land of the Lost debuted on ABC on September 7, 1991. Unlike the previous series, it eschewed soundstage sets in favor of filming mostly on location in California’s Descanso Gardens and Leo Carrillo Beach. The series was written by Len Janson, Chuck Menville, Reuben Leder (as Gary Perconte), Janis Diamond, Jules Dennis, Phil Combest, Michele Rifkin, Reed Shelly, Richard Mueller and Marianne Sellek, with Janson and Menville serving as story editors and producers, and Porter credited for the story of the episode “Opah”.  Each episode was designed to instill a prosocial and ecological message within the context of its story in order to fulfill the network’s educational requirements mandated by the new Children’s Television Act. Chiodo Bros. Productions, Inc. was brought on to handle the special visual effects needed for the dinosaurs and portals, with the Chiodo brothers themselves serving as co-producers. Grey LaVoi handled the costume designs with Kevin Kiner providing the series’ music. 


Nim and Keeg steal the family Jeep.


The new Land of the Lost proved successful and was renewed for a second season. While Menville had worked on his portion of the season 2 scripts, he wouldn’t get to see it through as he passed away that June. The episode “Opah” was dedicated in his memory. He would continue to have three posthumous credits through 1993 with episodes he worked on for Disney’s The Little Mermaid: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series. As for Land of the Lost, ABC opted not to renew it and kept it running for an additional season of reruns. During its original run, it was nominated for a Daytime Emmy and six Young Artist Awards.



Tiger Toys produced a toyline featuring every character except Keeg, a pterodactyl and Scarface, vehicles and playsets, as well as a roleplay sword and doll of Stink. Outside of a few dual episode VHS releases from Republic Pictures, the complete series hasn’t seen release outside of bootlegs and digital uploads.
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“Tasha” (9/7/91) – The Porters find an egg in the jungle and end up adopting the baby dino that hatches from it.
 
“Something’s Watching” (9/14/91) – While recording the land for posterity, Kevin encounters Christa the jungle girl and Stink the Paku.
 
“Jungle Girl” (9/28/91) – Christa is wary of the Porters until they help her begin to unravel her forgotten past.
 
“Shung the Terrible” (9/21/91) – The Sleestaks steal the Porters’ truck and their leader claims it for his own.
 
“The Crystal” (10/5/91) – Annie ends up with Shung’s power crystal which turns her personality dark.
 
“Wild Thing” (10/12/91) – After she causes a lot of trouble, Tom sends Tasha away into the jungle.
 
“Kevin vs. the Volcano” (10/26/91) – Helping his family try to stop a volcano eruption gets Kevin trapped in a cave by Scarface.
“Day for Knight” (10/19/91) – Kevin becomes jealous of the knight of the Round Table that ends up in the land.
 
“Mind Games” (11/2/91) – Feeling overworked, Annie runs off to stay with Christa just as Shung uses her necklace to control Christa.
 
“Flight to Freedom” (11/9/91) – A signal hits Kevin’s TV after an earthquake, making the Porters think they can use it to track down an exit portal.
 
“Heat Wave” (11/16/91) – While looking for water, Tom and Kevin find Nim and Keeg and attempt to lead them away from the treehouse.
 
“The Thief” (11/23/91) – Kevin accuses Tasha of stealing stuff from the treehouse.
 
“Power Play” (12/7/91) – Out of batteries, Tom decides to try and get the Sleestaks’ crystals to see if they’ll power their devices.
 
Season 2:
“The Sorceress” (9/12/92) – Banished sorcerers Keela befriends the Porters, unaware that another sorcerer is about to come for her.
 
“Dreammaker” (9/19/92) – Tracking down a strange TV signal leads the Porters to…their old neighborhood?
 
“The Gladiators” (10/3/92) – Tom and Kevin are pitted against each other by Shung for their lives.
 
“Opah” (9/26/92) – Stink’s grandfather pays the Porters a visit and ends up saving their lives.
 
“Life’s a Beach” (10/10/92) – A beach day unlocks some of Christa’s traumatic memories.
 
“Future Boy” (10/17/92) – A boy from the future collides with a dangerous cyborg and they both end up in the land.
 
“Siren’s Song” (10/24/92) – The Porters are lured into a trap with a vision of their wife/mother.
 
“In Dinos We Trust” (10/31/92) – Kevin is forced to rely on Tasha when he’s blinded by snake venom.
 
“Annie in Charge” (11/7/92) – Annie takes over when one of Cy’s traps wipe Kevin and Tom’s memories.
 
“Make My Day” (11/14/92) – Discovering an ancient Sleestak weapon makes Kevin think he can use it against Shung.
 
“Cheers” (11/21/92) – Fermented fruit leads to Kevin becoming drunk.
 
“Sorceress’ Apprentice” (11/28/92) – Keela asks Annie to watch her spellbook for a few days, but Annie can’t help but try out some magic.
 
“Misery Loves Company” (12/5/92) – After Stink is injured, he finds he enjoys the Porters taking care of him a bit too much.

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