Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Valley of the Dinosaurs: "Fire" (November 16, 1974)

In “Fire,” an episode of Valley of the Dinosaurs (1974), a tribe of nomads sees a fire start in the valley because of the dry, hot season.

Instead of helping, however, the wanderers wait until the cave family and the Butler family go to fight the flames and then rob their home cave of food, water, medicine and even tools.

The Butlers fight the fire, creating a “back fire” to repel it, and then learn that their homes have been looted.  They go to confront the nomads, or wanderers, but see that the interlopers have fallen prey to the conflagration too. Now they are the ones in need of help.

The Butlers and Gorak’s family built a fire wagon with a make-shift pumper/hose and extinguish the fire, teaching the nomads a lesson in compassion and friendship.

The series protagonists of Valley of the Dinosaurs face a double threat this week: man and nature. 

Not surprisingly, perhaps, nature proves more manageable, at least at first.  Using his science background, John Butler manages to put out the fire and save the valley.  This is a key aspect of the series. Science is always put to good use, and helps tame the prehistoric, wild environment.

Meanwhile, the nomads, described by Goraks family as “bad people” who “steal other people’s food,” are a greater challenge. Their way of life is a menace, and they don’t want to change it.  In fact, the nomads don’t want help at first, and are untrustworthy.  And, of course, they are thieves. 

But as Gara points out to them, “we’re all the same people,” and it is wrong to prey on one another.  The nomads accept this, but whether the lesson is really learned is another question.

“Fire” features some nice (and surprising…) series continuity. The events of “S.O.S.” are explicitly remembered here, with discussion of the dam and water irrigation in the lagoon. This hard work is put to good use here, as Gorak and the Butlers stop the fire from destroying everything in its path, even as the villagers flee the valley.

More importantly, however, there’s a strong acknowledgement in “Fire” of the friendship the two families share.  Mr. Butler notes that without the help of Gorak’s family, his family might very well be nomads today too.  “We’re mighty grateful for the home you’ve given us,” he says.

Gorak responds in kind, thanking the Butlers for all the modern family has done to help them conquer their environment.

Next week: "Rain of Meteors."

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