Saturday, January 25, 2014
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Land of the Lost (1991-1992): "Dreammaker" (September 19, 1992)
In “Dreammaker,” Mr. Porter (Timothy Bottoms) is unexpectedly awakened from a sound sleep at the tree-house by the sounds and lights of his home in San Francisco. He hears a police siren and sees flashing red and blue lights. When Mr. Porter looks to see the source of this disturbance, however, he sees nothing out of the ordinary.
The next day, the mystery deepens when the Porters discover a parking ticket left on their truck’s windshield.
When they go exploring, the Porters discover, to their shock, their neighborhood in San Francisco. They go inside and explore their old house, and find it just as they left it, months earlier.
The Porters return to the house the next day, but strange disturbances soon begin there. Mr. Porter is attacked by the garage door, the living room furniture comes to malevolent life, and Annie Jenny Drugan) and Kevin (Robert Gavin) receive a telephone call…from their dead mother.
Stink arrives just in time to save the Porters, and soon the family discovers a cave, where an ancient Sleestak device is malfunctioning…
“Dreammaker” is widely-regarded to the finest and most memorable episode of the 1991-1992 remake of Land of the Lost. There are solid grounds to support of this assessment, as this episode isn’t as content as most to play things safe, and is willing to risk scaring its youthful audience, much in the way that the original Land of the Lost scared its generation in terms of the presentation of the Sleestak, and by featuring monsters like Medusa.
Here, the Porters return to their home in civilization (or so it seems), but this dream quickly turns into a nightmare. The refrigerator comes to life and spits food at Tasha, the furniture attacks the Porter children, and most frighteningly of all, the kids get that phone call from their deceased Mom. Her soothing tones turn to horrible, malevolent laughter.
One can imagine how all this horror would play out to the young, impressionable mind, and so “Dreammaker” boasts an aura of danger and fear missing from virtually every other series installment. That texture of fear is no doubt the very thing that makes”Dreammaker” stand out in the memory of fans. In short, this is a good creepy show, and even though it recycles the resolution from “Kevin vs. the Volcano” by tagging the anomalies as the result of a malfunctioning Sleestak device, the episode is successful. Some of its visions -- from the thermostat operating itself, to a sofa going -- up-ended -- towards Kevin and Annie like a hungry shark -- are genuinely spiky.
Still, the episode does raise some questions that the writers don't answer. For instance, how can the “dream-maker” affect reality outside of the zone where the house is projected? It seems like it wants to trap the Porters there, yet it can affect them anywhere in the Land of the Lost, as the incident with the parking ticket suggests. Secondly, why would the dream-making machine warn Stink that the Porters are in trouble by showcasing their plight on the portable television? Perhaps as a lure for the Pakuni?
Still, a little mystery can be a good thing, and I like that “Dreammaker” is willing to go for broke in terms of its horror imagery. And as a long-time fan of dinosaurs attacking people and civilization, I very much liked the moments in the finale during which Scarface -- the resident T-Rex -- prowls the suburban neighborhood of tract homes and pulps a parked car.
Finally, there’s an interesting Sid and Marty Krofft connection here. The Porters go exploring because Kevin’s portable television begins to pick up signals of a favorite TV Show, “The Turbo Twins.” In this case, “The Turbo Twins” are visualized as stock footage from the 1976 Krofft superhero series, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.
Next Week: back to matters as usual, with “Opah.”
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