- Land of the Lost (1974 TV series) geography and technology
"Land of the Lost" was a 1974-1976 TV series presenting the adventures of the Marshall family (including Will and Holly and their father Rick, later replaced by their uncle Jack). The Marshalls become trapped in a pocket universe populated by dinosaurs, ape-like creatures called Pakuni, and lizard-like creatures named Sleestak. This article concerns the unusual geography of the Land and mysterious "technology" such as the pylons, crystals, heart, and other elements which control various aspects of the Land of the Lost.
The Land of the Lost is a very small, closed
pocket universethat consists of a valley surrounded by mountains. A traveler attempting to pass over the mountains will find himself reentering the valley from the other side; at one point the Marshalls climb a mountain peak and using binocularsare able to see far enough across the valley to observe themselves from behind.cite episode|title=Hurricane| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=1| number=16| airdate=1974-12-21] There is one major river flowing through the Land, forming a similarly closed loop; it flows into a cave at one end of the valley and comes back out again in a waterfall at the other end. The Marshalls discover this when they attempt to raft down river in search of an exit from the Land in the episode "Downstream".
The climate of the Land is tropical, and the valley is filled almost entirely with dense jungle. Other major landmarks include a
tar pit, a misty swamp filled with dead trees that appears to be locked in darkness even during the day, some high bluffs containing natural caves, and a narrow canyonor chasm that extends into the mountains. The Land lacks a magnetic field, rendering compasses useless.
The Land appears to have three moons. The smallest is also the fastest, moving visibly through the sky; the Marshalls dubbed it "Speedy".cite episode|title=Blackout|serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=2| number=13| airdate=1975-11-29] Considering the unusual cosmography of the universe the Land is in, however, it is possible that the "moons" are artificial or otherwise illusory. On two separate occasions manipulation of a Pylon's crystal matrix table caused the motion of the sun and moons to halt, suggesting that the entire sky may be an illusion. Conjunctions of the moons appear to trigger the activities of some Pylons, including the elevator Pyloncite episode|title=Pylon Express|serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| number=8 |season=2| airdate=1975-10-25] and the possession Pylon.cite episode|title=The Possession|serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost|season=1|number=12| airdate=1974-11-23]
An establishing shot in "Stone Soup" features a
matte paintingdepicting two suns in close proximity to each other, one appearing significantly smaller than the other. This is not commented upon by the characters, however, and multiple later episodes show similar shots with only one suncite episode|title=Fair Trade| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=2| number=3| airdate=1975-09-20] cite episode| title=The Test| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=2| number=4| airdate=1975-10-04] cite episode| title=The Longest Day| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=2| number=7| airdate=1975-10-18] .
Scattered throughout the Land of the Lost, often embedded in the walls of caverns, are a variety of colourful brightly-glowing
crystals that the Marshalls dubbed "light crystals" and which Enik called "fourth-dimensional nodes." Sizes vary from boulder-sized chunks to the more common walnut-sized gems. Their most common colors are red, blue, yellow, and green, though other rarer colors, such as white, have been seen or mentioned.
In one episode, Rick Marshall laments the number of possible combinations of crystals. In fact, there are 6 possible combinations of 4 colors taken 2 at a time, and 4 possible combinations of 4 colors taken 3 at a time. The crystal matrix tables provide a 9x9 array, which would be capable of storing 162 bits (an astronomical number of possible states) if filled with crystals of 4 distinct colors.
The most common use of light crystals seems to be in crystal matrix control tables, or simply as sources of illumination. Altrusians used them as a power source for their technology.On their own, the crystals generally do not have special properties beyond their glow, but bringing two different-colored crystals together can cause additional effects in some cases:
*Bringing a red crystal together with a green one causes the pair to emit a blindingly bright but generally short-lived light (Holly used this pair for sustained light in "Elsewhen"); this combination is often useful for driving away Sleestak.
*Bringing red and yellow crystals together causes an explosion after a very brief delay.
*Combining red and blue do nothing noticeable, but adding a third, yellow crystal to the pair causes them to emit a fierce shock.
*In general, yellow crystals appear to trigger releases of energy from other crystals.
*A blue crystal and a green crystal together create a temporary force field a short distance away. This use was taught to the Marshalls by Enik in "The Stranger", but in the later episode "The Search", the Marshalls attempted to reproduce the effect and nothing happened. (It is possible the crystals they used the second time were insufficiently charged.)
*In general, blue crystals appear involved in telepathic functions. Blue crystals alone can under some circumstances hypnotize people into seeing what they love mostcite episode|title=Album| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=1| number=7| airdate=1974-10-19] . Jefferson Collie also mentioned that blue crystals "make you sick", and discards them when he mines them in his cave. The Marshalls eventually receive a set of pendants made from blue crystals that provide a sort of
clairvoyance, in which one wearer can see what the other wearer is seeing and hear what they're hearing. David Gerrold, in his DVDcommentary to the episode "Circle", noted that the idea for the crystals was picked up from Harlan Ellison, who had wanted to use them in his "Star Trek" episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" but was blocked from doing so.
Pylons are small gold truncated square
pyramids, tall and narrow, spaced approximately every quarter milein a regular pattern throughout the Land of the Lost. The surface of a Pylon is extremely smooth to the touch; Will described the sensation as being like "touching nothing". Holly also reported that the surface felt cold. When a "Tyrannosaurus" tried to bite a Pylon in the episode "Skylons", the Pylon emitted a powerful electrical shock that frightened it away.
Some Pylons have a hand-sized tetrahedral "key" projecting from about two thirds of the way up one side; when turned, a diamond-shaped patch of the Pylon's surface below it dematerializes to provide a small doorway inside. Apparently, some pylon keys can be removed from a pylon by shining reflected sunlight on them, sealing the Pylon, and can be replaced by pressing the key back on the Pylon's surfacecite episode| title=Skylons| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=1| number=8| airdate=1974-10-26] . Pylons have a chamber inside with indistinct black walls, floor and ceiling that is significantly larger inside than the Pylon appears from the outside, and are similar in some ways to the time traveling
TARDISfrom Doctor Who.Each Pylon will typically contain a "crystal matrix control table," a small square table made of rough stone with a grid (generally 9×9 decimeters) on the upper surface. Various light crystals rest on the grid. Some Pylons also have a large green viewing orb suspended beyond the crystal matrix table used as a visual display.
Pylons are part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Land of the Lost; when the light crystals on their crystal matrix tables are tampered with, all manner of effects on the Land can be produced. Examples include causing storms, opening and closing time doorways, triggering earthquakes, and even manipulating the rate at which celestial bodies travel through the sky. Pylons appear to have specialized functions; a "weather Pylon" controls rain, a "clock Pylon" controls the movement of celestial bodies, etc. The synchronization of the pylons with heavenly bodies is also seen in the episode "Pylon Express"; one pylon only opens when the three moons are aligned.
The episode "The Possession" presents the idea that the Pylons were built by the Altrusians. In David Gerrold's backstory for the series he confirms this, explaining that the Altrusians built the entire Land and everything in it as a way-station intended to let travelers cross between various places. The time doorways are gateways which allow their users to cross into the Land on their way to their destination. The reason that travel through the time doorways is unpredictable, at best, is that the Land has fallen into disrepair in the time since it was built. However, the series as presented remains unclear on this subject.
Closely associated with Pylons are small flying golden
bipyramidal objects the Marshalls dubbed Skylons. When the crystal matrix table in a Pylon has been tampered with in a destructive way, Skylons will arrive and hover over the Pylon, while flashing a sequence of colours corresponding to the sequence of light crystals that need to be manipulated to restore the table. Skylons also appear to respond to signaling with reflected sunlight. The Skylons are apparently only able to cope with problems resulting directly from mis-set crystal matrix tables. The Skylons are unable to handle problems resulting from outside forces such as the Zarn's gravity drive, though they do indicate Zarn as the source of the problem. This may suggest that they are relatively simple automatons and not particularly intelligent. The door apertures in Pylons are roughly the same size and shape as Skylons, but it is not known whether Skylons actually enter Pylons through them.
The Land's "Heart"
There is at least one location in the Land of the Lost where there should be a Pylon according to their pattern of distribution but where there is only an empty clearing in the jungle insteadcite episode| title=One of Our Pylons Is Missing| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=2| number=4| airdate=1975-09-27] . The clearing has a hidden circular aperture in the center that sporadically opens to drop whatever was on top of it down a shaft into a black void. A jagged pulsating house-sized red crystal floats in the center of this void. Objects that have fallen down there "orbit" the red crystal for a while, but eventually the red crystal shoots the objects with an energy beam that pulls them into it. Rick Marshall speculated that this crystal was a "generator or giant heart" for the Land, and that it drew energy from what it consumed in this manner. Rick, Holly, and Cha-Ka fell inside the void once, but Rick managed to get them all out again by using his signal mirror to reflect the crystal's beam back at it. The crystal reacted by violently ejecting all the remaining orbiting objects from the pit.
A nearby Pylon appears to be a control station for this pit with a viewing orb that shows the interior of the shaft.
The Lost City
The Lost City is an ancient subterranean city originally built by the Altrusians but now inhabited by the Sleestak and partly abandoned. It is built into the base of a mountain in a region of the Land separated from the rest by a narrow but deep chasm; a fallen stone slab bridging the chasm is the only convenient method of access. Externally, it consists of a huge plaza with an arched entrance, crumbling rectangular pillars, and three tunnel entrances set into a mountainside. The plaza is the home territory of an allosaurus. The Marshalls dub this allosaurus "Alice", but the Sleestak call her "Selima", which means "Protector", because she keeps animals away from their eggs.
The left entrance to the City leads to the Devil's Cauldron lava pool, along corridors with many stone alcoves used by the Sleestak for hibernation. Accessible through the central entrance is a fog-filled pit at least seven meters deep called the "Hole of No Return", within which lives a carnivorous beast the Sleestak refer to as their god, to which they sacrifice people and animals as food. Sleestak legend tells that only once did someone escape from the Hole, but the legend doesn't detail how; one possible route is via a narrow tunnel that runs from the bottom of the pit to the top, too small for the god to pass through and normally hidden by fogcite episode|title=The Hole| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=1| number=9| airdate=1974-11-02] .
Also through the central entrance is a passage to a chamber containing a crystal matrix table, where Enik spends most of his time attempting to open a time doorway back to his original era. Near this room is a door with a Pylon key next to it, beyond which is a small opening that leads to a bottomless pit. In the episode "Elsewhen", Holly descends into this pit on a rope, and she briefly finds herself hanging in the sky under an upside-down Land of the Lost. This bizarre vision is never explained within the show, but may be related to the closed nature of the universe that the Land is in; just as the river loops back to its origin, the pit may descend so far that it comes out in the sky overhead.
Although the Sleestak occasionally venture beyond the chasm above ground (The Sleestak God, The Stranger, The Hole, Circle, etc.), there are caves and tunnels all over the underground of the Land, many of which link to the Lost City. The Sleestak sometimes use these tunnels to hunt, chipping upward to create a pit trap and waiting below for prey to fall in.
A pristine version of the Lost City - presumably from the time of the Altrusians, and marked by structures which no longer exist - is briefly seen in "Pylon Express."
Library of Skulls
The Library of Skulls (introduced in the episode "Fair Trade") is a foggy cavern in the Lost City that contains glowing Altrusian skulls and urns on pedestals and ledges. The Library is a relic of the Altrusian civilization. As shown in "The Longest Day" and "Blackout," the urns can emit a "sacred smoke" that induces a form of telepathy that allows the user to communicate with the skulls, and that also has the side effect of removing all language barriers, allowing Marshall to talk to the Sleestak for the first time. Lengthy exposure to the smoke causes
The skulls have various areas of expertise or specialization, for example the "Skull of History" and the "Skull of Wisdom", and the "Index Skull" is an important starting point when asking the Library for information. They are also able to predict or prophesy the future, and they know at least some details about how to operate Pylon matrix tables. As knowledgeable as they are, however, the skulls do not appear to have any goals or will of their own; they only provide answers to the questions they are asked.
The Library is tended by a Sleestak Librarian, and the Sleestak Council and Leader consult the Library of Skulls on important matters. The Council and Leader claim exclusive rights to consultation, though they may allow others to ask questions under some circumstances.
The Builder Temple
Near the Lost City's plaza is a stone "temple" (discovered by Will and Holly in "The Test"). It is avoided by Sleestak, as it is not an Altrusian ruin but rather was built by some other humanoid agency of great stature. Inside the temple is an empty antechamber with a
sundialset into the floor, somewhat of an oddity since sunlight does not reach that far into the room. As shown in "The Musician," there is a solid stone door at the back, and at the top of the door frame is a sculptured relief high on the wall of two hands touching; one hand is convex, the other concave. The door only opens when a Paku puts his or her hand into the concave relief. Inside is a crystal-illuminated chamber with "the great-granddaddy of all matrix tables" (as Rick described it) inside. There are also several humanoid statues.
When this chamber is explored in "The Musician", Cha-Ka touched the matrix table and caused the appearance of a glowing red humanoid figure, along with colored light smears in the sky. The figure was uninterested in the Marshalls, telling them "You have already proven yourself; it is not your time." When it encountered Cha-Ka and he faced the glowing figure bravely, it declared, "It is your time, Cha-Ka." The figure morphed from a tall, featureless red humanoid into a boy - a more human-like twin of Cha-Ka - before vanishing. Cha-Ka was apparently left with a powerful ring and improved intelligence; at the end of the episode, he is shown playing music on a
recorderthat he had previously been unable to comprehend.
Farther away from the Lost City is another smaller complex also called "The Temple". This other Temple is perhaps of Altrusian origin; its decorations include the half-sunburst symbol seen over the entrances to the Lost City. The Marshalls wound up using this temple as their primary shelter in the show's third season. This was partially forced because of a fire that destroyed substantial portions of the studio between the show's second and third seasons. The mystery of the Builders and their Temple was not explained further.
The Mist Marsh lies beyond a treeless ridge approximately one mile from High Bluffcite episode| title=The Zarn| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=2| number=2| airdate=1975-09-13] ; neither Pakuni nor Sleestak venture near it. It is a dim, eerie, foggy field of dead trees, cloaked in gloom even during the day.
In the original script, the "mist" is described as having actual weight where it pours through openings in the rocks much like tiny waterfalls. While walking through one of these "fogfalls", Will is actually pushed back by the force of the mist but remains completely dry. This was not included in the filmed version.
The Zarn's spacecraft is located in the Mist Marsh. Like the Zarn himself the spacecraft is largely invisible, its streamlined shape outlined by spots of light that dot its surface. The Zarn's ship uses a gravity drive. When operating, it can cause significant increases in the local gravity fieldcite episode| title=Gravity Storm| serieslink=Land of the Lost (1974 TV series)| series=Land of the Lost| season=2| number=6| airdate=1975-10-11] . This causes lots of activity in the Pylons and Skylons, but the Land of the Lost cannot counteract it all. In an attempt to escape the Land, the Zarn at one point attempts to use the gravity drive to destroy it entirely. The Marshalls prevent this by distracting him at a key moment, and the uncontrolled gravity badly damages the Zarn's ship instead.
Foods available in the Land of the Lost, as revealed on the program, include:
*heart of palm
Shown, but not mentioned on the show by name:
Note that some of these are not exactly like those in "the real world". The strawberries and carrots, for instance are quite a bit larger than the usual variety. Also, one supposes that the dinosaurs themselves could be a food source, and one character does mention that the Sleestak taste something like lobster. Some "Land of the Lost" fans celebrate the show by fixing meals composed only of those foods known to exist in the Land of the Lost.
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