Even though his memories of Land of the Lost have faded completely, our son knows that there’s a fire-breathing dimetrodon somewhere in it, on account of us having T-shirts. (Did you know we have T-shirts? We do. Marie got us matching shirts some years back. His was far too big at the time, and he’s just about outgrown it, sadly.) So we popped ahead to watch Torchy’s two primary appearances in the show, in two of the more watchable episodes of the otherwise disappointing season three.
The kid really enjoyed them both, I’m happy to say, despite his old man grumbling about silly things like the Sleestak Leader talking while getting him up to speed on all the changes between the second episode and this run. It’s really entertaining dinosaur action, and he was wide-eyed and thrilled. Often, the show was a little aware of its production limitations and tried to avoid asking too much of their animators, but they threw a lot at that talented stop-motion team the week they made “Cornered.” There’s a lot of brand new dinosaur footage, including a great bit where Torchy chases off Big Alice.
Interestingly, we were talking Saturday night about how tame the censors were making children’s television in the seventies. One thing they couldn’t do was mention death. Will is struck by Torchy’s tail, and some sort of poison gets in his system. Enik, who knows conveniently far, far too much about the new threats in season three, warns them that if Will falls asleep before the wound is cured, then he will “sleep until the end of time.” No, Enik, he’ll die. That’s what you mean.
“Timestop” is certainly the better of the two, despite its many plot holes. I really like the way it calls back to the first two seasons, and sticks Will and Holly down another dark tunnel with some weird sci-fi thing at the other end of it. If they ever do bring back Land of the Lost, they need to put the experience of exploring caves and the creepy tunnels aspect front and center. And don’t completely explain what you find there. The new passage in “Timestop” eventually worms its way into the Sleestak caves – most, but not all of them, do – but not before finding a bright light barrier for no apparent reason at all. “Timestop” is flawed, certainly, but boy, it scratches an itch.