So Sunday, like a lot of people, I watched the Super Bowl and all of it's bonus features- the pre-show, the post-show, Bruce Springsteen- and the commercials. All of it was pretty cool- and I especially like seeing Obama having the guts to actually say he was for Pittsburgh- as opposed to some equivocating "may the best team win" baloney that you would expect from a politician- but what got me the most excited was the trailer for the new movie version of The Land of the Lost starring Will Ferrell. I used to watch that show when it first came out, and I really loved it.
And I have this weird memory of a certain episode that I wasn't sure I had really seen, or only imagined or dreamt I had seen- the storyline seems so strange, so over the top for Saturday morning early 1970's fare. As the years have passed, I've become less and less sure as to whether I ever really saw the episode in question or had made it up due to an overactive imagination coupled with a fascination and fear of death.
Here's what I remember from Land of the Lost in general, and of that existential episode in particular. Marshall, Will, and Holly, on a routine expedition, met the greatest earthquake ever known- and were sucked down this giant toilet bowl in granite of some sort to this place with several moons, lots of odd flora and fauna, and dinosaurs- not to mention monkey people and the dreaded Sleestack- or maybe it's Sleezstack- these bug-like lizard people who hiss a lot and don't take kindly to the Marshall clan. How the Marshall's survive in this strange world is basically the show. But that was just the beginning. Soon after their arrival, they meet Enik (whose name just happens to be the Greek word for cinema spelled backwards)- a tan looking sleeztack who can talk and is groovy and not quite so mean as his cousins- who turn out to be his descendants, as he comes from a distant past, and for some reason (like voting Republican too often) his people have become a bunch of cranky assholes. Among the cool things Enik can do is move these power crystals around in these funky little pyramids called Pylons that are all over the place. Ok- Marshalls, dinosaurs, multiple moons, monkey people, sleeztacks, and funky ass Enik. That's the general stuff about Land O' Lost.
Now the weird episode. Somehow, the Marshalls and Enik end up in this particularly powerful Pylon, and Enik is like "Hey, I have some serious shit to tell you about", and Mr. Marshall says "Oh?" and Enik is like "Yeah. It's pretty heavy. You better sit down." Picking up on the heaviness, Mr. Marshall tells Enik to give it to him straight, so Enik tells him "you don't belong here, amigo- something is all wrong with you being here". At this point, Marshall is getting pretty pissed off, and Enik can tell, so he shows him some stuff- telling him "this is not going to be so nice, but you asked for it, so here goes". Then Enik moves some crystals around, and on the screen in the Pylon they see the accident that brought them to the Land of the Lost in the first place- and Marshall gets all serious and says "there's no way we could have lived through that", and Enik goes "You didn't". Then they see the three dead Marshalls, and talk about some variation on Nietzsche and his theory of eternal recurrence. End of show.
Now that is a weird thing to have on a kiddie show- and you can see why I thought maybe I had dreamt it up.
But after seeing the trailer during the Super Bowl, I was reminded yet again of that strange episode- of how it dawned on me that the Land of the Lost was really the Land of the Dead- and I turned to Google.
Turns out it really was an episode, called Circle, written by Larry Niven and David Gerrold. It was the final episode of the first season, when they thought there wasn't going to be a season two. Oddly, the show got picked up and the whole they're all dead thing went away- but I never forgot that. I was eight when I saw Circle. Weird.
So what has that to do with things today?
Not much- except for this- I think we are kind of in a Land of the Lost right now, a crazy place where the past, the present, and the future are all happening at the same time- there are deadly dinosaurs running around in the form of greedy CEOs and senators against stimulating the economy, preserving the environment, letting gay people marry, etc.- there are Sleaze Stacks like Madoff and Cheney and Bush- who are like devolved, smelly versions of human beings-
and if we don't stop all the madness that has reigned over us for the past eight years, we'll be looking at ourselves sprawled on the side of a riverbank, realizing that we're the walking dead.