Monday, September 28, 2015
Cult-TV Theme Watch: Rafts
A raft is a small vehicle made for transportation over water, or in some cases, space travel. A raft features a basic design, and is often inflatable in nature.
Rafts have featured prominently in cult-TV history, often serving as escape vehicles in dire situations.
Famously, Land of the Lost (1974-1977) begins with an expedition on an inflatable raft. The Marshalls (Spencer Milligan, Kathy Coleman and Wesley Eure) raft down treacherous rapids on a “routine expedition” before an earthquake propels them through a dimensional gateway.
Similarly, the Butler family is rafting down the Amazon River when a whirlpool or vortex pulls their inflatable raft underwater. They resurface in a prehistoric world, in Valley of the Dinosaurs (1974).
An episode of Hanna-Barbera’s live-action series Korg, 70,000 BC also involves a raft. In “The River,” Neanderthal hunter Korg (Jim Malinda) must transport his family across “the wide water” (what we would call a river…) to hunt a deer. It’s a desperate need because the family is starving. Korg’s wife, Mara (Naomi Pollack), however, believes that the water is evil and refuses to board the raft that Korg constructs with logs and vine. With survival on the line, Korg must make a tough choice.
Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975) another Saturday morning series, sees crashed human astronauts use an inflatable raft to cross a narrow river in the Forbidden Zone, before encountering a society of advanced, talking simians.
The second episode of Lost’s (2004 – 2011) second season is titled “Adrift” and it involves Sawyer and Michael attempting to escape the mysterious island in a man-made raft.
The superhero series Arrow (2012-present) also features a crucial scene set aboard a raft. In flashback, we learn how Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) survived a disaster at sea with his father, only to see his father take his own life, so that Oliver could survive.
An unusual space craft is seen in the Lost in Space (1965-1968) episode, “The Raft.” Here, the Robinsons create a life-raft to take a passenger to another world, and possibly bring back help. The plan goes awry, however, when Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) launches the raft, with only Will (Bill Mumy) aboard as company. The raft re-enters planetary orbit, and is not used again in the series.