Land of the Lost 1.4 – Downstream

Further beefing up this program’s SF cred, Larry Niven scripted this episode. He’s another writer that Gerrold brought over from Filmation’s Star Trek cartoon from the previous season. Niven, who is better known for his novels and short stories than for television scripting, got the choice assignment of introducing the first big surprise to get dropped in the Marshall’s lap as they explore their world: there is no conventional way to leave the Land of the Lost. The river runs in a circle. This is a closed universe, a “locked door in space.”

From the swamp, the river goes out into a canyon before ducking underground into a series of caves, where it abruptly falls over a cliff as a waterfall. The Marshalls abandon their raft before the falls and meet an odd human who calls himself Jefferson Davis Collie III, who defends himself against Sleestak with an artillery cannon. He claims to have fought at Antietam, Bull Run, and Gettysburg, but is unaware how the Civil War ended, and has been mining crystals for what seems to be a few years. Collie returns to his cave at the end of the episode rather than deal with dinosaurs. While lonely, he’s happier eating fish and mushrooms – and the occasional Sleestak, which taste like lobster – than risking his life around Grumpy. Collie is played by Walker Edmiston, and we’ll see this actor again in a couple of weeks, although this is the best we see of what he actually looks like.

Daniel was slightly alarmed by the Sleestak in the caves, but thrilled by the explosions from Collie’s cannon, and by the first use of the crystals working together. I think they get the colors messed up in future episodes, but this time out, touching red and green together makes a blinding light that’s very painful to Sleestak, and adding a yellow creates a small explosion. But it’s the cannon blast that really surprised me; that’s a heck of an explosion to be setting off right behind a pair of tall sixteen year-old boys in green wetsuits. I’m going to assume their moms weren’t on the set when they taped that, because mine would have given Sid and Marty Krofft an earful.

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