Saturday, August 08, 2015
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Valley of the Dinosaurs: "The Big Toothache" (December 14, 1974)
In “The Big Toothache,” Gorak is concerned. Many small animals living in the valley seem to be afraid of something nearby, and are not following their usual or normal pattern of behaior. For example, a dinosaur stampede is only narrowly diverted away from the village.
The source of anxiety is pinpointed in the nearby swamp: a family of saber-toothed tigers.
Even as Greg and Tana adopt a little saber-toothed cub, the adult male and female spar, bothered by something. As Gorak and Gara learn, the female is suffering terrible pain from a sore in her mouth.
Neebra -- “the cat with the great teeth” -- must be cured of her painful mouth wound before hunters in the village decide to kill her, an act which would make the male murderous, and vengeful.
The Butlers craft a hypodermic dart and a tiger trap, and prepare to do oral surgery on a saber-toothed tiger.
Valley of the Dinosaurs sticks to its formula in this week’s installment, “The Big Toothache.”
Specifically, there the series writers always present problem that can only be rectified by two factors: the use of modern science, and the cooperation of the prehistoric and modern family.
In the case of the former, Kim crafts a sedative using local medicines, and delivers it using a thorn (“a ready-made dart!).
Similarly, John works on building a trap for the tiger, a false “ground” over a deep pit. Once the tiger is tricked onto the false floor, it collapses, and the animal is trapped.
It’s more complicated than it sounds, because underneath the floor -- which is designed to give way -- is also a make-shift pulley-operated elevator platform so the tiger can be released. It’s pretty complex, but then all of the devices created by the Butlers on the series are.
In terms of the latter leitmotif, the Butlers work to build the trap and create the hypodermic dart (as well as perform the surgery on Neebra), while Gorak and Gara contend with the villagers, who, if they interrupt, will ruin everything. The two families work on different fronts, but for one cause.
And through it all, the teenage girl, Katie, wisecracks relentlessly. Her bad jokes are the one element that most immediately dates the series.
Next week, the final episode of Valley of the Dinosaurs: “Torch.”