Earlier this summer, I watched the entire Land of the Lost series. Remember Land of the Lost (the original series, not the cinematic abortion starring Will Ferrell)? It was a Sid and Marty Krofft show, which meant that it merged childhood whimsy with LSD in order to… Actually, I’m not sure that there was a purpose to it, other than because it was the 70’s, and because they could. (Don’t believe me? Check out Lidsville, a show about hats that combines drug references and Charles Nelson Reilly in a way that probably had toddlers shooting smack during playtime.) But why, you may ask, would a grown man watch an entire children’s television series from the 70’s? Because that grown man had been freebasing shoe polish, that’s why.
The real reason, of course, was because I wanted to show it to my kids. (Why suffer alone, right?) My youngest, in particular, enjoys really kitschy retro-television, so we sat down to learn all about Sleestaks because (and I have had several heated arguments with the school about this) our modern educational system completely ignores the existence of Sleestaks. Can you believe that shit? 13 years of math, but not one single day devoted to Sleestaks. Do you think the Chinese are ignoring Sleestaks in their schools? Don’t be a fool. Of course they aren’t, and you’ll believe me on that horrible day when the Red Horde descends upon our country, shuffling its feet and hissing menacingly.
Ok, for those of you not older than dirt, here’s a quick rundown of the show, courtesy of the theme song’s lyrics:
Marshall, Will, and Holly
On a routine expedition
Met the greatest earthquake ever known
High on the rapids
It struck their tiny raft
And plunged them down a thousand feet below
To the Land of the Lost
You see? Right off the bat, there’s a whole bunch of information our kids aren’t learning in school. Like the fact that you can be serenely paddling your kids around a placid lake when a sudden shift in the earth’s tectonic plates will suddenly hurtle them into the abyss. And because they’re not learning this at school, I have to teach them at home. “Good morning, everyone!” I’ll say. “Time for breakfast, and also to reflect upon the fact that at any moment, a cruel and capricious god might decide that your ass needs to be thrown into the rocky depths where dinosaurs will feast upon your succulent haunches.” Luckily, now they’re aware of this. They won’t leave the house and spend most of their days cowering in fear behind the credenza, but they’re aware.
Ok, so these three dimwits ride the world’s biggest log ride to the Land of the Lost, and when they get there they find it populated by four types of creatures:
- Claymation dinosaurs – Did you know that the fossil record completely ignores the existence of dinosaurs made of clay? It’s true, and you should harass your local archaeologist until he or she Does Something About It.
- The Pakuni – The Pakuni are a race of really irritating morons who look like they were combed out of Chewbacca’s ass hair or something. They can kind of walk, kind of speak English, and kind of piss me off to the point that I’d like to catapult them into the Land of the Large Vats of Acid.
- The Sleestak – Sleestak are a vicious and violent race whose terrifying rubber suits would cause anyone to flee in panic if they only moved faster than three inches an hour.
- Special Guests – For a land that is so lost that that fact is embedded in the name, they sure have an awful lot of people dropping by for 22 minutes at a time. Maybe they mean “lost” in that these people used to have serious acting careers, but now they’re reduced to fleeing from Play-Doh. In that sense they’re lost.
The Sleestak are the most entertaining, in that they are comically inept. Also, due to budgetary concerns, they only had three Sleestak suits made, so every time you see them, it’s as a trio, like Rush got into the bath salts and lost their fucking minds. My son and I took to yelling out “Three!” every time a troika of Sleestak appeared, which was more intelligent than anything anyone in the show ever says.
There’s another Sleestak, though, named Enik. He can talk, because the director didn’t want to deal with 75% of the show consisting of hissing and pantomimes. He’s from the future. Or the past. Or Cincinnati. I don’t fucking know. And in his first episode, he loses an opportunity to go back home because Will (the vertically challenged teen-dream, more on him in a bit) becomes a major league asshole. The scene goes somewhat like this:
Enik: And now I must go back to my world.
Will: Cool! Can you send us back to our world too?
Enik: No, I don’t know the coordinates.
Will: Fuck you, send us home!
Enik: I. Don’t. Know. The. Coordinates.
Will: I. Don’t. Care. SEND US HOME!
Enik: Look, you extra-chromosomed fucktard, I don’t know how to get to your home. What you’re asking is the equivalent of storming a plane’s cockpit and demanding that they fly you to Narnia. It’s not going to fucking happen!
Will: Well, I’ll teach you. I’ll break your fucking machine.
Enik: You Greg Brady wannabe motherfucker!
…and yes, he is TOTALLY a Greg Brady wannabe motherfucker:
The Pakuni, on the other hand, look like Fleshlights for Wookies:
I don’t know what it is about the Pakuni that irritates me so much, but I should point out that everyone I know who has seen Land of the Lost feels the exact same way. I’d love to hear David Attenborough do a Land of the Lost documentary:
This is the Land of the Lost, a world shrouded in mystery. Dinosaurs abound, as do lost human beings, and a wonderful little tribe named the Pakuni. Ok, look, I can’t read this shit. The Pakuni are NOT wonderful, they’re bloody revolting. I mean, look at that one. Is that thing wearing a fucking Bumpit? These rotten little fuckers turn my stomach. I can understand why the dinosaurs don’t eat them, but I go to bed each night praying that they do.
Ok, so let’s talk about the stars of the show. This is Marshall:
He’s kind of like a laid back Mike Brady, except after he gives his kids some vague, useless advice (in homily form, of course), instead of helping Cindy try to find Kitty Karry-all, he makes sweet, sweet love to his canteen. Marshall has some issues.
Then there’s Will, the aforementioned teen dreamer. He’s a bit on the short side, which is more or less ok until season three when Holly hit a growth spurt and sprouted some tits. This presented the directors with a couple of problems: Although the Krofft brothers were all for filling children’s heads with druggy weirdness, they didn’t much care for T & A. Also, Holly’s newfound tallness made Will look like the miserable runt he truly is. And so it’s fun to watch season three and the ham-handed attempts to keep the Horrible Truth under wraps. Will and Holly will run from a dinosaur, and when they stop to rest, they have to shuffle around so that Will is in the foreground, standing tall, while Holly skulks behind him, hunched over a bit, her tightly bound chest hidden behind a palm frond.
Also, Will is credited in the series as being played by Wesley. Not Wesley Smith, or Johnson, or anything. Just Wesley, a one name sobriquet that’s mildly irritating when it refers to a person with actual skills (looking in your direction, Sting), but infuriating when it refers to a no talent hack. And we know that he’s a no talent hack because they would sneak this kind of shit into an episode:
If you’re planning on suing me at this point, I can’t say that I blame you.
For whatever reason, though, my family’s scorn is saved for Holly, who in our mind is to blame for everything.
Marshall: Look out! That alien is about to take off! We’ll be burned alive!
My entire family: Goddammit, Holly!
(And yes, there are aliens involved. Watching Land of the Lost is a lot like watching Lost on mescaline.)
Maybe our animosity towards Holly is due to her faux Cindy Brady looks. (Land of the Lost started airing in 1974, right as the Brady Bunch was wrapping up. I think it’s understandable that they appropriated a few things from a popular show. I just wish that they’d thought to include a maid.)
Urgent Digression: One time, doing actual, real-life research for this site (shifts eyes from side to side) I was watching the godawful Brady Bunch Variety Show, when I was presented with this:
What I love about this photo is the conversation that undoubtedly preceded it:
Mike Brady: Honey, you look beautiful!
Carol Brady: Why thank you, dear!
Mike Brady: Whoah, whoah, whoah, where do you think you’re going, all gussied up?
Alice: We’ve got a variety show to do, Mr. Brady. Just dressing the part.
Mike Brady: No! We are getting dressed up. You are not. You’re going to walk out there with us in your maid uniform because EVERYONE MUST KNOW THAT YOU ARE BENEATH US, YOU DIMWITTED SHREW!
Jesus. How fucked up is that?
Anyway, Holly looks a lot like Cindy before she discovered cocaine:
There’s actually another character that most people forget about: Uncle Jack. Here’s what happened: Marshall got arrested for cornholing the Pakuni, and they decided that they couldn’t let just Will and Holly do the show because then they might go all Blue Lagoon, and before you knew it, the set would be swamped with inbred, extra-short, talentless children who all looked kinda like Cindy Brady. So they just replaced Marshall with his brother Jack.
This presents some issues vis-a-vis credibility. (Yes, I used the word vis-a-vis. It was on a dare.)
- Believable – A family goes rafting
- Less Believable – Family stumbles across the Land of the Lost
- Even Less Believable – The Pakuni not converted to shag carpeting within first two episodes
- Somehow Even Less Believable – Wesley allowed to have prehistoric guitar
- Are You Fucking Kidding Me? Uncle shows up out of the blue.
If I’m anywhere in the universe and I look around and it looks like a goddamn family reunion, then I don’t think I can classify myself as lost. I mean, what the fuck, Uncle Jack just shows up? Where, exactly, is the Land of the Lost located? LaGuardia?
I just now realized that Uncle Jack was played by none other than famous zookeeper Jack Hanna. He would like you to know that keeping the Pakuni in cages would be cruel, so when the series wrapped, they had them all put to sleep.
Land of the Lost says something about modern culture, of this I’m sure. And while I don’t know what it says, exactly, I can tell you that it’s enough to make a man freebase shoe polish.