Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Land of the Lost (1991): "Flight to Freedom" (November 9, 1991)

In “Flight to Freedom,” the Porters unexpectedly get an opportunity to escape from the Land of the Lost. 

Specifically, Kevin’s damaged television set begins to pick-up a strange signal that Mr. Porter believes may lead the family to an energy portal out of the land.

Alas, leaving behind the Land of the Lost also means leaving behind Christa (Shannon Day), Tasha, and Stink. 

The Porters attempt to make their peace with saying farewell to their friends, but when Scarface threatens the Paku and the tiny dinosaur, the family must decide what to do.

Should the Porters escape through the rapidly-closing portal, or stay behind and save their friends from the hungry T-Rex?

“Flight to Freedom” is a solid Saturday morning adventure story that nicely reflects on both the values of the Porter family, and the remake’s effort to tell tales in the style and fashion of the 1970s original upon which it is based. In particular, the episode recalls two episodes from the 1974-1977 series: “Follow that Dinosaur” and “The Pylon Express.”

In the former story, “Follow that Dinosaur,” the Marshalls used the diary of a Confederate soldier to find what they hoped was an exit from Altrusia.  They followed the diary’s map from location to location – and into the Lost City -- but found that it ended only with death and despair.  Here, the TV signal doubles for the diary, essentially, and leads the Porters to an energy portal that could lead them home.

In the latter story, “The Pylon Express,” Will, Holly and Marshall discovered a pylon that could transport them home, but they were separated and couldn’t leave each other behind in time to make use of the “express.” 

When all was said and done, however, the Marshalls realized that the Pylon Express would return in two or three years – during the next lunar eclipse -- and at that juncture, they would be able to return home. 

Here, the Porters find similar cause for optimism.  The portal may re-open again soon, and as long as they follow the TV signal, the Porters will be able to locate it, and return to their home.

In terms of both TV iterations of Land of the Lost, it’s important to recall that these programs were designed for children.  Accordingly, there’s a didactic message here about putting aside personal goals to help friends in need.  It’s a good lesson, and not terribly heavy-handed in delivery. 

However, it all could have been avoided if Mr. Porter had simply agreed to take Tasha and Stink through the portal, as they desired from the start.  A few episodes back, he realized he couldn’t endanger Tasha by leaving her in the jungle alone at her age.  That particular lesson should have been fresh in his memory here.  If he had agreed from the outset to take Tasha and Stink with the family, they all would have returned to 1990s America in safety at this juncture.  Of course, in a continuing series, you can’t have such a resolution…

I’ve been a bit hard on this Land of the Lost remake in terms of the luxuries it provides the stranded Porters.  The family has a TV set, a video camera, a radio and, of course, a car.  Unlike the Marshalls, they are hardly roughing it in the Land of the Lost.

In “Flight to Freedom,” the car is handled a bit better than it has been in some episodes.  It breaks down, for one thing, and Kevin has to repair it….with very little time to spare.  And for another thing, we see Mr. Porter putting gas in the vehicle, using a blue tank of gas.  At least some attention, then, is being paid to the fact that the car isn’t going to be a survival option for the family forever.

Next week: “Heat Wave”

1 comment:

  1. John interesting and accurate review of "Flight To Freedom". You are right about the Porter family with all the luxuries they brought with them to Altrusia including their SUV. The Marshall's arrived in a rubber raft! I suspect the Porter family luxuries were a pre-production toy merchandising decision. The Porter family experiences the potential for their escape, like the Marshall family in “The Pylon Express”. However, in both cases this future departure time was never realized because both series were cancelled. It would have been nice to have had a final episode for both series. I wonder if this LOTL'91 will ever be released as a complete series dvd set?



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