Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Valley of the Dinosaurs: "Top Cave, Please" (November 2, 1974)

In “Top Cave, Please,” a hunting party’s mascot -- an elderly stegosaurus named Rokar -- is mysteriously freed from the corral, a forecast of bad luck. 

Lok is accused of releasing the animal, and held for trial. He is found guilty of the crime, and banished to the Cave of the Winds, where a giant spider spins its webs.

In truth, the real culprit is a devious hunter named Bork, who hates the stegosaurus and feels that Rokar brings him only bad luck.

Now the Butlers and Lok’s family must prove his innocence, and establish that “luck” is the purview 
of the superstitious, not the rational.

“Top Cave, Please,” is an intriguing episode of CBS’s Valley of the Dinosaurs (1974) in part because it reveals a bit more about Gorak’s people. 

The Villagers, who have cooperated with the Butlers only grudgingly in the past, here accuse Lok of violating a tradition and custom involving a mascot.  We see Lok stand trial, in the village and stoically accept his sentence even though he is innocent. 

But this series is always about the strength of family (or two families together), and so naturally Gorak and the others fight to prove that Lok has been wrongfully accused

The episode’s final point, that Rokar is not a “magic spirit,” just an animal, is perfectly in keeping with the series’ pro-science, anti-mysticism bent. Rokar does not make good or bad luck, that’s just how people interpret things, and the final scene of the episode shows the Villagers coming to understand that fact.

Gorak’s friendship with the Butlers is also nicely established once more in this episode, as the modern family doesn’t hesitate to help the beloved Lok.  As Katie says, “everyone’s in on the caper!”  And indeed, they are. 

Katie and Greg investigate the creepy Bork, while Mrs. Butler and Gorak’s wife attempt to retrieve and capture the now free-ranging Rokar.

Next week, one of the best episodes of Valley of the Dinosaurs: “S.O.S.” 

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