Land of the Lost
Season 1, Episode 1
Air date September 7, 1974
Written by David Gerrold
Directed by Dennis Steinmetz
Episode Guide
The Sleestak God

Cha-Ka was the First Episode of the First Season of the Land of the Lost. It was written by David Gerrold.

Summary[edit | edit source]

The Marshalls care for an injured hominid and gain an ally in their dangerous new home.

Plot[edit | edit source]

The Marshall family, hiding in the jungle, are watching dinosaurs (Holly declares one of them "cute" and says she will name him "Spot.") They run when a tyrannosaur approaches which then chooses to chase Spot. Holly asks why the tyrannosaur is so "grumpy." Rick tells his children that the tyrannosaur must eat to survive, and that he thinks they are in "another world," because the previous night he saw three moons. Rick believes that they entered this world when their raft went over the waterfall, which "never seemed to end," and seemed to "fall through a hole in space." Rick tells the children he believes there must be a way out, but it "might take us a while to find it."

The family keeps moving to avoid the tyrannosaur. Rick scouts for a safe route back to the cave, having instructed his children to remain where they are, Holly hears chanting and decides to investigate over the protestations of Will. They find a tall, narrow pyramid that makes a warbling noise. Will notes "it looks like it was made by intelligent beings" and that touching it feels "like touching nothing." Holly notes that it's "so cold" and wonders aloud "what it was used for."

They continue to follow the sound of voices, where they see three naked, hairy hominids chanting and banging rocks together. The tyrannosaur menaces the hominids; the smallest of the three falls while attempting to flee and injures his leg. The tyrannosaur chases after the other two hominids, apparently ignorant of the slower, injured prey who Will and Holly are then able to rescue by carrying him away. The tyrannosaur, now pursues the Marshalls, but is delayed when he becomes stuck between two trees, allowing Will (carrying the hominid) and Holly to escape. The tyrannosaur escapes the trap by walking backwards, and again chases after the two larger hominids.

The children give injured hominid water from their canteen and attempt to communicate with him. He is able to imitate their names (somewhat poorly), gives his own as "Cha-Ka", and indicates that he is a "Pakuni". Rick arrives and they take Cha-Ka back to their cave, where they attempt to hoist him up with a basket attached to a rope and pulley, which it seems they have previously built.

As they hoist Cha-Ka to the cave mouth the tyrannosaur (who Rick is now calling "Grumpy") approaches. Rick and Holly lower Cha-Ka back to the ground then rush into the cave. Will assists Cha-Ka from the basket and carries him behind a rock to hide, while Grumpy bites through the rope and chomps on the basket. Grumpy can see Will and Cha-Ka but cannot reach them. Rick and Holly get the "fly-swatter," a long sharpened stick, and jam it into Grumpy's open mouth. He wanders away in distress with the stick hanging from his mouth like a toothpick, unable to reach it with his stubby legs, but eventually dislodges it by shaking his head. Rick says they'll have to tie a loop in the rope to get Cha-Ka into the cave.

Rick, tending to Cha-Ka's injuries, asks Holly to boil some water so that he can clean Cha-Ka's leg wound. Holly lights a fire using Rick's lighter and Cha-ka stares , eyes wide in fascination. After the kids bicker over Holly's cooking abilities, Rick assigns the next few days' worth of cooking duty to Will.

Later, the water has apparently boiled and then cooled enough to clean the wound on Cha-Ka's leg. Rick Marshall sets and splints the injured leg.

While the Marshalls sleep, Cha-Ka steals Rick's lighter and limps out of the cave, now able to climb and jump down the natural stone steps beneath the cave entrance without pain, and slips off into the jungle. All three Marshalls quietly follow the limping hominid into the night. In the jungle, Cha-Ka encounters Grumpy, who apparently sleeps while standing. Cha-Ka backs away slowly and the Marshalls catch him. They discover that he has taken the lighter. His two hominid companions come down from an overhead branch and threaten the Marshalls with some barely sharpened spears, naturally assuming that they have taken Cha-ka against his will. Rick Marshall frightens them away with the "great magic" of the tiny flame from his lighter.

Grumpy, now wide awake, comes to eat them all. They scatter. Grumpy chases the Marshalls all the way back to their cave, but as he approaches the cave mouth he quickly gives up, apparently remembering the lesson of the "flyswatter." So the Marshalls don't have to use the second long sharpened stick they have prepared.

Holly is disappointed that Cha-Ka does not seem to be their friend. The apparent moral of the episode then arrives with a thud: "it takes a lot of trust to make a friend."

In the morning in the cave, Will discovers that Cha-Ka has left them a feast of giant fruits, and "wants to be friends with us after all." Cha-Ka watches them from the brush, and disappears back into the jungle as the Marshalls begin eating, and a quick cut to the jungle reminds us that Grumpy is still eagerly waiting the chance to devour the Marshalls.

Message[edit | edit source]

  • "Kindness Begets kindness."

Cast[edit | edit source]

Dinosaurs[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Although Emily the Brontosaurs appears in this episode, she's not "officially" named Emily until the Dopey episode.
  • Cha-ka falls and injures his leg despite an absence of any obstacles in his way.
  • Grumpy bites the basket, visibly damaging it, but in next scene the basket appears undamaged.
  • The toothpick stuck in Grumpy's mouth switches from left to right.
  • Rick says that Cha-Ka's leg "shouldn't hurt anymore," that he "had to set it," and that it was "only a slight fracture." He and Will make a pointless splint from 3 flimsy twigs loosely tied with 2 bandanas.
  • The Marshalls sleep fully dressed, shoes and all, in what is apparently their only set of clothing.
  • When the Marshalls leave the cave to follow Cha-Ka, the basket, rope and pulley are nowhere to be seen. But when Grumpy attacks them they are all visible in the mouth of the cave.
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