Here’s another “memory cheats” episode. It’s not a blessed thing like how I remembered it as a kid. When I finally obtained copies of all the season two episodes that I hadn’t seen in years – this would have been about 1990 – I was thunderstruck how simple and calm this episode is. Apart from a couple of grunting appearances by Spike the triceratops, there wasn’t anything in this story to give our son even the mildest alarm. It really is the calm before the storm, because after this little outing by Dick Morgan, the next four are terrific, freaky fun.
To set the scene for how my memories tricked me, let’s roll back to the halcyon days of VHS tape trading, a subject we’ll revisit when we get to season three. Many episodes of Land of the Lost were not hard to find in the late 1980s; Embassy Home Video had released the first four, and CBS actually reran at least twenty and perhaps even all of the first thirty episodes on Saturday mornings in 1985 and 1987. So there were copies of quite a few floating around, and eventually somebody landed an episode guide, but there was an episode that I remembered very clearly that was not among them.
What I remembered was that Sharon Baird’s character, Sa, was the witch doctor, and not Ta. This made sense to my little kid brain; Ta was the dominant member of the tribe, and “witch doctor” was Sa’s function. And while I remembered, kind of, that a poisonous plant had stung Holly, I remembered this being a mammoth part of the episode, and not something that happens right at the second commercial break. I also misremembered that somehow, Rick and Will had also been poisoned, and that Sa cured them all after all the humans were left prostrate on the jungle floor. This is actually just a very minor part of the story, another example of Ta insisting on some foolish “ritual” to command attention from everybody else. He doesn’t cure anybody; he just waits out the powerful, but short-lasting, poison and demands payment.
So somehow, I became convinced that there was a missing episode of the show where Sa saves everybody from some horrible sickness, and had no idea that it was this one, because it’s really mainly about Will teaching Cha-Ka what fish are and how to catch them, and Sa doesn’t even appear in it. Memory’s a weird thing.