Saturday, May 09, 2015

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Valley of the Dinosaurs: "A Turned Turtle" (September 21, 1974)

In the third episode of CBS’s Valley of the Dinosaurs (1974), titled “A Turned Turtle,” the Butlers learn of an old hermit who may know the pathway out of the valley. 

The only problem is that to reach the old hermit, and find the pathway itself, is quite a dangerous journey. The hermit lives in the territory of a fearsome dinosaur called “Godon.”  And unstable volcanoes threaten to erupt at any moment. 

While Kim and Kate go to speak to the hermit about his knowledge of a path, Mr. Butler and Gorak realize they need a way to reach them after an eruption, and use a giant turtle shell to create a vehicle that will help them pass through a submerged passageway….

In “A Turned Turtle,” The Butlers have a chance to escape the prehistoric land where they are trapped.  Uniquely, the cave-man family is confused by their desire to leave. To the family, life in the valley of the dinosaurs is quite normal. The Butlers explain that they have “a world” of their own out there, a world where they “belong.”

As is clear from this episode, the third in the series run, a format is developing. Each week, a prehistoric crisis occurs, whether it is an army of ants, a dinosaur attack, or a volcanic eruption that blocks egress to family members.  The two families then work together to solve the problem.  

That solution, almost every week, has something to do with the Butlers’ knowledge of 20th century science.  For instance, a hot-air balloon was used last week (“What Goes Up,”) and a lever and water siphons were used the week before (“Forbidden Fruit.”)  

This week, Mr. Butler -- the high school science teacher – explains how the turtle shell, when upside down, will create a pocket of air that they can breathe, while traversing the underwater passageway.

The format is predictable, but leaves enough room for some intriguing and fun stories.  

Even more predictable than the formula becomes, however, is the solution to the crisis this week.  The Butlers realize there is no passage out of the Valley that they can traverse and that -- until one is discovered -- they are trapped.  

Alternately, the series would have ended if the old hermit was able to take them out of the valley. Like the castaways on Gilligan's Isle, there's an awareness here that our heroes will never make their escape.

Next Week: “Smoke Screen.”

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