Friday, August 28, 2015

land of the lost: 'cha-ka'

Today I began a task that every man must undertake when he is a father. Today I began watching "The Land of the Lost" with my youngest daughter.

"Land of the Lost" was created by David Gerrold for Sid and Marty Krofft, and originally ran on Saturday mornings on NBC beginning in 1974. For a show that ran opposite cartoons like Bugs Bunny, "Land of the Lost" had a pretty intense setup. It was about a father and his two children trapped in a mysterious land with dinosaurs and other menaces.

The episode Alex and I watched tonight was "Cha-Ka," on YouTube. It's the pilot episode, but the theme song that plays over the open credits is really all the introduction you need: Rick Marshall and his two children, Will and Holly, are whitewater rafting when a terrible earthquake drops them 1,000 feet. They miraculously survive the terrible fall, only to find themselves running from a Tyrannosaurus rex they call Grumpy.

The episode picks up not long after the Marshalls' arrival in the Land of the Lost, and for a young child especially, offers a fantastic mix of adventure and risk. There is Grumpy, a regular dramatic threat who chases the Marshall children or who corners them in their cave. And there is Cha-Ka, a missing-link ape boy whose friendship the Marshalls cultivate by rescuing him from Grumpy and by treating his broken leg.

The writing is a little corny some times, and the banjo soundtrack adds a touch of feelgood sensibility to what could be an otherwise scary show for a young child. But all that aside, it's as engaging to Alex as I remember finding it myself. Two hours after watching it, she was walking around the catching saying "Cha-Ka! Cha-Ka!"

She's already asking to watch Episode 2 tomorrow.

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