Saturday, November 16, 2013
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Land of the Lost: "Day for Knight" (October 19, 1991)
In “Day for Knight,” a portal opens in the land of the lost and deposits a young knight in the middle of a battle between the Porter children and Shung’s Sleestak underlings. Balin saves Christa’s (Shannon Day) life, which makes Kevin (Robert Gavin) feel both jealous and inadequate.
Meanwhile, Shung (Tom Allard) determines that he must possess Balin’s sword, or “magic blade.”
Balin, who considers himself a “dragon slayer,” soon reveals the truth to Kevin. He’s but a lowly squire who appropriated his knight’s armor for a night, when he went through the portal. He is not any braver than Kevin, and in a battle with Scarface, Kevin proves his mettle.
When the portal re-opens, Balin returns home…
“Day for Knight” opens with Kevin’s "dream" fantasy of rescuing comely Christa from Scarface, using ridiculous martial arts moves. The dream is embarrassing enough, but then Kevin wakes up to find Tasha lovingly licking his face. It’s an…icky way to open the episode, for sure.
After that opening, “Day for Knight” settles into a story that should feel familiar to all fans of the original Land of the Lost (1974 – 1977).
In that series, many episodes featured a visitor from another time period becoming stranded in the pocket universe for the duration of the episode, and then departing before the end credits. In the original series, Native Americans, Union Soldiers, hot air balloonists, military pilots, and even sailors (The Flying Dutchman) found their way into the land before escaping to greener pastures. In the 1990s Land of the Lost, the first human visitor is Balin, a young knight. At episode’s end, the portal just miraculously opens beside him and he is able to return home, thus leaving the Porters behind.
Why can’t something like that happen to the Porters, one wonders?
This is the first time since the series began that a portal has opened up, and Kevin can’t go through it because he’d be trapped in the wrong time, but also because he’d be leaving his family behind. Still, it would be nice if there was some kind of rhyme or reason to the appearance (and re-appearance) of the portals in this version of the mythology. In the original series, portals often opened as a result of fiddling with Matrix tables in pylons, but here it seems totally random, and Balin is one lucky guy, for sure. Getting to the right portal at the right time must be one in a million...
Of course, there’s no guarantee that this is his portal either. Maybe Balin arrives on the other side of the portal in the Porter’s era…
As was the case in previous stories, this episode features the Sleestak as the buffoons/comic-menace of the week. For some reason, Shung becomes obsessed with getting possession of the knight’s sword, which is a pretty weak motivation for his involvement in the drama. Shung already has a crystal blade with mystical powers beyond human comprehension. Why does he need a steel blade from the Middle Ages?
“Day for Knight” isn’t the worst episode so far, to be certain, but it isn’t exactly tightly-constructed, either.
The portals work arbitrarily (obligingly depositing and taking away the guest star while leaving the main cast stranded permanently), the Sleestaks are as ineffective as usual, and Kevin’s fantasy about Christa is cringe-inducing. What this episode does establish is that, in some sense, Land of the Lost is attempting to update the original source material while telling the same brand of story.
Next Week: “Kevin vs. the Volcano.”
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