Land of the Lost 2.10 – Baby Sitter

Daniel did much better with tonight’s episode than I thought he would! After the previous two appearances by the Zarn left him alternately angered and terrified, I was a little worried, but this episode is really pretty innocuous. In it, while Rick and Will take an overnight trip to continue a mapping project, Holly intervenes between Cha-Ka and Ta, who are at loggerheads.

The Zarn picks up on the conflict – or perhaps he overheard Will talking about him – and decides to escalate the conflict with his telekinetic powers, in the name of “research.” This involves a lot of quick cuts, wire work, and a little bit of slapstick, which our five year-old really enjoyed.

It is a strangely simple and inessential little story, and while there’s nothing wrong with it, I liked it a little less than I remembered it this time around. I do, however, really like the way that the Zarn is no longer a threat, but another neighbor with his own territory. Had this production team continued on and made the third season (oh, if only…), that would be a good place to start, with the humans, Pakuni, Sleestak, and the Zarn each with their own territories and each with their own opinions about how best to survive. (The Zarn, of course, would be that obnoxious neighbor whose lawn mower you do not wish to borrow, because he’d never let you forget it.)

Land of the Lost 2.4 – One of Our Pylons is Missing

Here’s a great example of that wonderful phenomenon of “the memory cheats.” My recollection of this episode had been a completely amazing special effect sequence at the end, with the people and objects sucked down by the large red “power source” moving very believably, and much, much faster. Think of all the oddball objects spinning around at the end of the video for “And She Was” by Talking Heads. The reality is a little less impressive.

Bill Keenan’s script challenged the special effects team more than anything in the show before. We learn this time that in a clearing where there should be a pylon, there’s a “black hole” that occasionally opens and sucks things down below, where a glowing red ball of matter waits. It keeps everything it sucks in an orbit until it absorbs it, and then redistributes it into the Land as energy. The “floating in space while orbiting” effect is accomplished by having the actors sit awkwardly on a blue screen floor, the sort of oddball acting school exercise that was a long time in Spencer Milligan’s past.

Daniel was absolutely terrified by this episode, despite the absence of Grumpy, Spike, or Sleestak. “I just want to go wait in my room until this is over,” he whimpered, but he never did actually budge, just frozen in place waiting to see what would happen next.

Last time, we either had the Sleestak egg caves and nursery on Grumpy’s side of the chasm or the animators used the wrong dinosaur model. This time, they’re evidently exploring on Big Alice’s side, but they refer to the allosaurus model as “he” and the sound effects crew gives Alice the roar of Grumpy. Unless there is a male allosaurus on that side of the chasm as well…?

Land of the Lost 2.3 – Fair Trade

I think this is the only time in the series that we get to see that city slicker Ta without the other Pakuni, and I suspect there’s a fun reason why. This episode features Walker Edmiston as Enik, along with the three Sleestak actors. That probably only left room in the budget for one Paku. This could have been a cooperation with Cha-Ka as we’d normally see, but Wesley Eure and Scutter McKay have a very fun chemistry as antagonists, so that led the script in the direction of Will taking advantage of Ta, which could never happen with their friend Cha-Ka. But anybody concerned that the humans are taking advantage of the gullible, uneducated ape-man, hanging him up over a trap as bait for a 400 pound pig, don’t be too concerned. Ta’s a rascal and a bully, and he’ll pull one over on the humans before the season’s up.

Daniel decided to let us know as the credits rolled that he hates Grumpy, and Spike, and Sleestak. Just his luck this episode features two of the three, which had him crawling all over Mommy for protection. There is a completely brilliant bit of animation this week, by the way. Grumpy is chasing a Spot back and forth until he gets his foot stuck in the hole that the Sleestak dug. As he figures out how to free himself, Spot waits behind a tree until, getting a chance, he dashes into the clearing and bites Grumpy’s tail!

Geography note:This episode introduces the Library of Skulls, which will become a regular feature over the rest of this and the next season. However, it very strangely has the Sleestak tunnels and their egg nursery on Grumpy’s side of the chasm. I think this must have been a miscommunication to the stop-motion animation team and Big Alice should have been the big dinosaur chasing the small one. We’ll see Big Alice in action in a couple of weeks.