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Lost no longer


Review: Saturday series 'Land of the Lost' resurrected on DVD

"Land of the Lost":
Rhino Home Video, $19.95

(CNN) -- For many of a certain age, the '70s conjure up visions of bell-bottoms, discos and Watergate.

But for the first true generation of TV kids, the decade was about watching Saturday-morning shows in your wrinkled pajamas from dawn until lunchtime. Now, they're grown, but their memories remain firmly rooted in those vintage TV shows.

Now, with a booming market for all things nostalgic, more and more of those shows are getting digitally remastered. The latest to make the leap to DVD is Sid & Marty Krofft's "Land of the Lost."

  Funky Facts:
  • A linguist from UCLA was employed to develop the language of the Paku.
  • Tina Louise (Ginger on Gilligan's Island) was turned down for the part of playing an older Holly from the future.
  • Former Detroit Piston and notorious NBA bad boy Bill Laimbeer played a Sleestak.
  • Cha-Ka and Holly did a "Cheez-It" commercial together prior to the airing of the "Land of the Lost."

    The show, conceived as science fiction for kids, ran on NBC from 1974-76 with 43 episodes and has rattled around in syndication ever since. But now, thanks to the booming popularity and decreasing production expense of DVD, fans of the show can relive this cheesy and unique creation in front of a television that puts that old Saturday-morning Zenith to shame.

    For the uninitiated, here's the story in a nutshell: The Marshalls (father Rick, son Will and younger daughter Holly) are on a rafting excursion when everything goes wrong. The hapless trio is plunged 1,000 feet downstream through a dimensional doorway to a world populated by menacing dinosaurs, creepy monsters (Sleestaks) and annoying little Cro-Magnon-like creatures (the Paku). Confused? Imagine Disney meets Darwin.

    In the early to mid-'70s, the special effects in "Land of the Lost" were considered impressive. The show was shot partially on film and partially on tape, and the two formats were then edited together. The difference in picture quality between the formats is a bit of distraction by today's standards, but there probably wasn't a kid watching in the '70s who noticed or cared.

    Interactions between the actors and the special effects were done on Chroma Key (blue screen) with the footage of the actors clumsily overlaid on shots of the creatures. In many scenes it's clear the actors didn't know exactly where to look; today's viewers will find their reactions disjointed and unintentionally entertaining.

    The DVD contains four episodes from the first season. Here's a quick look at each:

    The Stranger: The Marshalls get a visit from Enik, a time-traveling and English-speaking Sleestak. He's pretty preachy and quick to explain why humans are inferior to his race. (Hint: It has nothing to do with his extreme sense of fashion.) This episode is a bit heavy on time-travel jargon, but it's the best on this disc.

    Tag Team Maybe "T-rex tag" is more like it. Find out the why the big lizard continually trying to snack on the Marshalls is appropriately named Grumpy. You'll find yourself feeling sorry for this dimwitted dino before the credits roll. This episode also offers a good bonding moment with the Paku.

    The Search: Rick discovers that mixing and matching Sleestak crystals can be hazardous to his health. Enik returns to show that Sleestaks can be good guys, too, even if he has to be shamed into it. The highlight of this episode is when Enik says, "I cannot allow your sacrifice to be greater than mine."

    The Paku Who Came To Dinner: Strawberries the size of basketballs, forced dinosaur labor, cross-species kissing -- this one has it all. Holly breaks out the perfume when Cha-Ka, a friendly Paku, is invited over for a chicken dinner. Plenty of inappropriate sniffing ensues.

    The DVD also includes a pair of recent interviews included in an extras menu. One is with the actors who played Holly (Kathleen Coleman) and Cha-Ka (Phillip Paley). It's clear from the joint interview that these two are close friends, and it's got a handful of laughs for die-hard fans.

    The second interview features series creators Sid and Marty Krofft. It's a bit dry but packs a few interesting tidbits about how the two brothers got into the entertainment business.

    The episodes are only 22 minutes long, and the picture quality is what you'd expect from a TV conversion -- just decent, not spectacular. The funky sound effects may be the most underrated segment of the show, too: Check out the looping Sleestak shuffle in the extra menu.

    For major "Land of the Lost" fans, the disc is almost definitely a must-buy, but casual fans might want to rent this DVD first.

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    Rhino Records
    Land of the Lost

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