Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Land of the Lost: "The Longest Day" (October 18, 1975)

This week’s episode of Land of the Lost is titled “The Longest Day,” and in many ways, it seems like a cobbling together of many familiar series ingredients.  

The plot line involves a malfunctioning pylon that has unsettled the environmental status-quo of the Land of the Lost.  And, once more, the Marshalls must re-balance Altrusia, and thus “nature” itself.

In some sense, this very story has served as the basis of “Skylons” and “One of Our Pylons is Missing” too.  

Soon, it repeats in “Blackout.” 

Here, the broken pylon causes the sun to remain frozen in the sky, motionless  

It’s like time is standing still,” observes Rick Marshall (Spencer Milligan).  

The endless day soon begins to make the dinosaurs cranky and confused as “the day shift” runs into “the night shift,” and chaos reigns.

Soon, the Sleestak consult the Library of Skulls, and see a vision of Rick Marshall toying with the Pylons.  They thus capture the human and blame him for the sorry state of affairs, which could result in Sleestak eggs hatching dead, since the Sleestak can’t hunt the Altrusian moths at night, the very moths which fertilize their eggs.

But Rick cleverly suggests that the Library of Skulls has revealed a vision of how he can fix the problem, not one showing that he caused the problem, and the Sleestaks allow him to fulfill the vision and repair the malfunctioning matrix table.  This is an original touch, to be certain, as are the scenes of Rick hallucinating when exposed to the mind-altering mist of the Library.

In fact, this episode gets downright trippy as Rick suddenly sees Will as a football player being tackled (by Sleestak) and then stumbles upon a cave scene wherein he, Will and Holly are all primitive cave people.

Then, Rick imagines Holly as a young girl of pioneer days, and Will as a World War I soldier.  These hallucinations seems somewhat off-point in a story about a Land of the Lost mechanism in need of repair.  We don't understand why Rick sees these particular visions, or what they mean to him.  They're weird and trippy but not really organic to Marshall's character.

After Rick fixes the matrix table, he refers to the affected pylon as “the clock of the Land of the Lost,” which is an interesting addition to series mythology, even if, this story in almost rote fashion re-asserts the familiar environmental underpinnings of the series.  

Once more, the environment is out of balance, and only by cooperation among diverse populations (this time human and Sleestak) can the world be healed.  

I like the message a lot, I just wish it weren't repeated so frequently.  It seems like there should be another way to discover the internal mechanisms of the Land of the Lost without a malfunction or crisis as the starting point.

I find the most intriguing aspect of "The Longest Day" the Library of Skulls.  Here, we see a fascinating vision of Altrusia as it was before the devolution of the Sleestak people.  There's a great metropolis (the Lost City in the distant past...), and one ancient skull talks in picturesque terms of a time when the Sleestak were "7,000" strong and ruled the land.  

Some very interesting mythology and history to build on here...

Next week, one of my favorite season two episodes: “The Pylon Express.”

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:30 PM

    John LOTL "Longest Day" wild hallucinations made me think of the '72 UFO "Mindbender" episode when I saw it in '75.