One of the show’s addictive elements was its combination of science fiction and fantasy. Playing on popular sci-fi concepts like time travel, alternative dimensions, and prehistoric life, the creators explored various moral and ethical dilemmas. This blend of imagination and real-world issues provided Land of the Lost with depth and appeal to both young viewers and adults.
The show’s production, too, was an exercise in creativity and innovation. Despite a modest budget, the creators (Sid & Marty Krofft) used techniques like stop-motion animation and puppetry to make the dinosaurs move, and the Sleestaks were portrayed by actors in elaborate costumes.
Sure, the 70s TV series’ special effects seem ridiculously cheesy when you look back on them now — with rubber dinosaur toys and a watery portal to another world that could have been filmed in a drainage ditch — but the show was imaginative and had heart.
Though it only lasted for three seasons, Land of the Lost was a gateway into a world filled with wonder, excitement, and mystery — entertaining both those who grew up with it, and new generations discovering it for the first time.
So fondly has it been remembered that the series’ legacy includes a revival in the 1990s and a 2009 big-screen adaptation that starred Will Ferrell.
Land of the Lost movie trailer (2009)
Let’s rewind back to some articles, photos and series stills published back when this show was airing.
Where is the Land of the Lost? In the world of Sid & Marty Krofft
From Dynamite magazine (July 1975)
Through the dark green jungle, the three walk slowly, staying close together, keeping watch for anything that moves in the tangled trees and shrubs. The sounds are not familiar. The sky is not the sky of home.
Suddenly, there is an inhuman cry — a roar of anger! Now the family must run for their lives from the furious dinosaur that chases them! Where is the path to safety? They do not know. This is not their land. This is the LAND OF THE LOST!
Where is the land of the lost? Where did the people, creatures, and strange places of this super-popular TV show begin? They all came from the minds of two men, Sid and Marty Krofft.
Dynamite visited the Krofft workshop in California and talked to Sid Krofft. We found out that the Land of the Lost is just one corner of what they call “The World of Sid and Marty Krofft”!
Creating a land where giant dinosaurs roam the earth is a very complicated business. For Land of the Lost, the Kroffts used a process that had never been tried before. Basically, this is how the show is done: The dinosaurs are rubber models — about 8 to 10 inches tall.
The camera films them one frame at a time. That means they shoot a picture, then move the model and shoot again. This makes it look as if the dinosaur is moving. Then the background — the jungle, let’s say — must be filmed.
Next, all of that is transferred to tape — because when you see Land of the Lost on TV, it is a taped show. Then they put the human actors on a blue set — the walls and everything are blue. Then they tape that in a special way so that everything that is blue doesn’t show up. Finally, they put the two tapes together.
We wondered how Sid & Marty Krofft got the idea for this show.
“Dinosaurs are really exciting,” Sid Krofft told Dynamite. “That’s why we were thinking of doing something that had to do with dinosaurs. Then I went camping in the Grand Canyon. I suddenly thought, ‘What a terrible place to be in an earthquake.’
“At that moment, I saw a park ranger and that sparked me. I thought what if a ranger and his son and daughter were in the canyon and one of those gigantic rocks split open and they found themselves in a world that time forgot and . . . well, that’s the show.
“The truth is, I live in a world of fantasy,” Sid said with a smile. “All day long and even while I sleep, I’m thinking of new things to do. I’m always interested in making people smile.”
Video: Land of the Lost theme song & opening credits
WATCH IT AGAIN: Get the show on DVD here!
Land of the Lost TV show has dinosaurs, flying reptiles, and giant lizard people
From The Atlanta Journal (Atlanta, Georgia) November 9, 1974
“Land of the Lost,” the new Saturday science-fiction adventure series on NBC, adds up to one of the toughest creative challenges ever tackled by its producers, Sid and Marty Krofft. The Kroffts are accustomed to challenges: they have produced such TV series as “H. R. Pufnstuf,” “The Bugaloos,” “Lidsville,” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.”
But “Land of the Lost” is different. It’s the story of a family that suddenly finds itself plunged into an alternate universe. This other world has been suspended in time at the prehistoric stage. It is inhabited by dinosaurs, flying reptiles, giant lizard people, and tiny monkey people.
How to put all this on the screen without resorting to the usual animation — that’s the challenge. For the dinosaurs and their prehistoric animal friends, the Kroffts turned to Gene Warren, whose special effects won him an Academy Award for the “Time Machine” and “Tom Thumb,” plus an Oscar nomination for “The Seven Faces of Dr Lao.”
Warren came up with miniatures of these animals that are authentic not only in appearance, but in the ways they can be moved. Each contains ball-and-socket joints that permit natural-like movement of head, legs, tail, or wings. These movements are painstakingly filmed one frame at a time.
This film then must be integrated with other elements of the show, all of which are taped. This includes all action of the Marshalls, the family from our world; the Sleestak, the tribe of giant lizard people; and the Pakuni, the tribe of tiny monkey people.
Much of the live action is shot on Chroma-key sets, then superimposed on footage from two miniature sets. “We constructed the largest Chroma-key set in Hollywood,” said Sid Krofft, “something like 75-by-100 feet, painted all in blue.
The major problem is the fact that film is shot at a different speed than tape, and there was no projector that could combine the two without some residual motion resulting.
“We turned to Compact Video, the company that taped the last six Sonny & Cher shows. After making what seemed a worldwide search, they developed the needed projector themselves.”
To get the rest of the prehistoric look, the Kroffts’ team cast three tall basketball players to play the Sleestak, three “little people” to play the Pakuni, then turned them over to the imaginative costume designing of Kirk Templeman, the script savvy of story editor David Gerrold, and the on-set talents of director Dennis Steinmetz.