Land of the Lost is the 1974-1977 cult TV show that let children believe, if fleetingly, that humans and dinosaurs can coexist. It’s about a father, son and daughter who travel to, and are trapped in, an alternate world, one with primitive humanoids (Pakuni), lizard people (Sleestak) and, of course, dinosaurs. Although it had a remake in 1991 (as well as a big-screen spinoff in 2008), it could have been revisited earlier, in 1987. According to screenwriter and series co-creator David Gerrold (who, among other things, wrote the fabulous Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles"), there was a particular reason it had stalled.
Back in 1987, Gerrold and a business representative of Sid and Marty Krofft, the show’s producers, attended a meeting with ABC's vice president of Saturday morning programming about a potential new show, Land of the Lost, The Return. The way he tells it, his meeting started off bad, and quickly became worse.
On his Facebook page, Gerrold wrote,
The woman — and I do not remember her name — started off by telling me that she wanted the show to look like Power Rangers. Well … okay. She wanted a villain in the Land of the Lost. Well … okay. We could have Prince Vozko in a giant crystal castle at the far unexplored end of the valley.
But then she said, “Let me tell you how to do Land of the Lost.”
So I said, “I created it for Sid and Marty in 1974.”
And she said, “But you don’t understand Saturday morning television.”
And I said, “I just wrote two scripts for The Real Ghostbusters.”
And she said, “But you don’t understand writing for children.”
And I said, “My degree is in Theater Arts, I studied Children’s Theater with Mary Jane Evans who wrote the book on Children’s Theater and I was involved with three live productions at CSUN, including one touring show.”
Talk about a schooling. But the conversation didn’t end there.
Gerrold wrote, "And then I said, 'Tell me what you want without disrespecting me. I can give you a good show. I know how to do this. But I’m a producer, not a clerk-typist. And I won’t be spoken to as if I’m some kind of flunky.' And that was the end of the meeting. And the proposed series."
In the same post, Gerrold wrote, “You’re not buying my soul, you’re renting my judgment — and if you don’t respect what I can bring to the project, I don’t want to invest my enthusiasm in it.”
So, that's why we never had an earlier return to the Land of the Lost: Because ABC's vice president of Saturday morning programming may have been a secret Sleestak.
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For a look at the original in all its '70s glory, check it out: