As we sat down to watch this episode, Marie asked “Do they ever mention their mother?” I gave her a side-eye, suspecting for a second that she’d peeked ahead.
This episode is phenomenally creepy. Daniel spent most of it buried under his security blanket. It’s a great example of how Land of the Lost simply didn’t sound like anything else on TV. The occasional banjo in the incidental music is odd enough, but there’s a soundscape of ambient electronic noises that’s really eerie and unsettling, especially when so much of the story proceeds without dialogue. It sounds like a gentle breeze upsetting a badly-tuned theremin.
This is the first episode written by Dick Morgan, who’d been writing for TV since the 1950s and, while most of the other season one writers had a science fiction background, Morgan was a regular in the Jack Webb writers’ pool. In his first contribution, he has Will and Holly attracted by an illusory noise that leads them into the Lost City and into an “album room” where they can see a shadowy image of their dead mother, played by Erica Hagen, who is beckoning them into a doorway. It’s the first time that we see that the Sleestak have some understanding of the Land’s technology.
Dennis Steinmetz had directed the first five episodes of the show. The previous episode, and this one, were directed by Bob Lally, who really pushed the young actors harder and farther than the first episodes prepared us for. Last time out, Wesley Eure and Kathy Coleman were screaming in horror, and this time, they’re struck mute by the illusions, unable to express anything but sadness, silence, and misery. It’s not just creepy; this episode is downright grim.
Technology note: In this episode, a blue crystal can, without being paired with another crystal, create a powerful illusion. Something must have charged or powered the crystal to generate the spell, likely the odd table in the album room, but we are not shown details.