|Land of the Lost|
|Season 3, Episode 8|
|Air date||October 30, 1976|
Cha-Ka is sweeping the pavestones in front of the Marshalls' home at the temple, when he notices a gas balloon giving off yellowish-brown smoke making a rapid descent. Cha-Ka quickly runs inside to alert Jack to what he saw. Obviously not recognizing a gas balloon, Cha-Ka can only describe it as a "strange animal" with "many color[s]" and "much smoke."
After Cha-Ka points out the ascending smoke from where the balloon landed, Jack instructs Cha-Ka to wait for Will and Holly while he goes to investigate. Jack arrives and finds the remains of a gas balloon and a man dressed in an aviator's outfit from the early 20th century.
The balloonist introduces himself as Colonel Roscoe T. Post, an American adventurer who was attempting the world's first solo balloon flight across the Andes mountains on March 3, 1920. As he explains it, his arrival in the Land of the Lost was precipitated by a violent storm.
Jack offers his hospitality to the Colonel and to explain to him where he has landed as they return to the Marshalls' home. Making their way back to the temple, they encounter Grumpy. Jack then uses a sapling to launch a rock to distract Grumpy into wandering off. Unnerved by the appearance of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Colonel declines Jack's previous offer of hospitality and instead states he will be making repairs to his balloon and leave at once. Seeing the balloon as a possible way to escape the Land of the Lost, Jack offers to help the Colonel make the repairs if he will take the Marshall family with him when he leaves. The Colonel readily agrees, though he is more motivated more by the positive publicity he would receive for rescuing the Marshalls than by benevolence.
At the Temple, Will and Holly are delighted at the possibility of escape. The Colonel explains what repairs will needed, as Cha-Ka arrives, carrying a load of firewood. Probably disconcerted by the way the Colonel is staring at him, Cha-Ka sets down the wood and recoils somewhat. After Holly introduces Cha-Ka, the Colonel refers to Cha-Ka as "the missing link," and delightedly exclaims, "My fortune is made."
But the Marshalls are not the only one who noticed the Colonel's dramatic arrival into the Land of the Lost. In the Sleestak caves, the Sleestak Leader is consulting with the Voice of the Skull of Wisdom, inquiring about the "human who comes in a flaming machine," concerned that he is an "evil god." As usual, the Skull couches his responses in cryptic terms, finally revealing that this new arrival's power comes from his machine. If the Sleestak destroy his machine, they destroy his power. Satisfied, the Sleestak Leader says he knows what they must do.
Back at the temple, the Marshalls and the Colonel are assessing what repairs need to be made on the balloon. Jack and Will will make necessary repairs on the gondola while Holly and Cha-Ka take the colonel to gather the membranes from hatched dinosaur eggs which will repair the balloon.
After Holly and Cha-Ka leave with the Colonel, Will expresses to Jack his concerns about whether they will end up in their own time, or the Colonel's. Since the Colonel's time is over fifty years before theirs, an arrival in the Colonel's time period would mean they would exist in a time period before they were born. While Jack hadn't considered this, he is dismissive of Will's concerns, saying they will worry about that when they get there.
Holly, Cha-Ka and the Colonel then journey to the Lost City to gather membranes from hatched dinosaur eggs, evading Big Alice and finding a hatched brontosaurus eggs from which to extract the membranes.
The repairs are rather involved and it appears that the Marshalls are doing all the work, with the Colonel merely observing. Finally, one evening, after inspecting the Marshalls' work, the Colonel reports that the repairs to the balloon are complete and that the will all leave first thing in the morning. Their celebration is cut short, however, by the arrival of the Sleestak. The Marshalls repel the Sleestak with torches, but not before the Sleestak have managed to cut the balloon to shreds.
But despite this devastating setback, the Marshalls remain determined. They will simply rebuild the balloon.
As Cha-Ka and Holly are gathering more membranes, the Colonel regales a thrilled Cha-Ka (who actually understands very little of what the Colonel is speaking about) with the wonders of the world where he comes from. Then, revealing his plans for Cha-Ka to be placed on public display for paying onlookers, billed as "The Missing Link," Holly looks on with growing disgust.
Holly discloses the Colonel's plans for Cha-Ka to Jack, who resolves to speak to the Colonel. At that moment, an excited Will arrives, having discovered the footprints of Pakuni. Excited at the possibility of being able to return Cha-Ka to his own people before they leave with the Colonel, Will and Jack quickly run off to follow the tracks.
As Holly continues to work on the balloon under the Colonel's supervision, Jack and Will return, sadly reporting that the Pakuni tracks simply vanished. Cha-Ka is disappointed that there are no more Pakuni, but still excited of being able to ride into a balloon and the Colonel's promise of bringing him to a Pakuni city.
Jack then instructs Will, Holly and Cha-Ka to start dinner. After they leave, Jack confronts the Colonel about his plans for Cha-Ka. The Colonel is evasive, insisting that his motives are purely scientific. Jack then states should they manage to escape the Land of the Lost, Jack intends to protect Cha-Ka, and to ensure that Cha-Ka is happy.
After dinner, Jack, Will and the Colonel are placing the hydrogen canisters inside the balloon's gondola when Torchy arrives. The Colonel quickly cowers, realizing that should Torchy's flaming discharges strike the hydrogen canisters, the resulting explosion would kill them all. Jack grabs a canister and rushes at Torchy, releasing hydrogen gas in a cloud around Torchy. Torchy's next fiery discharge ignites the cloud around him, startling the beast into retreating.
With the balloon fully repaired and prepared to launch in the morning, Jack proposes that the three of them take turns keeping watch during the night to ensure that nothing else happens to the balloon.
The night passes without incident, with the Colonel taking the final watch. As he begins his watch, the Colonel is joined by Cha-Ka, who was unable to sleep due to excitement. The Colonel then begins to fill the balloon with hydrogen gas in preparation for launch.
As daylight arrives, the balloon is fully inflated and Cha-Ka and the Colonel are standing the gondola. As the Colonel begins to undo the ties that tether the balloon to the ground, Cha-Ka quickly becomes suspicious and cries for help. The Marshall's arrive and grab hold of one of the lines restraining the balloon, refusing to release it until Cha-Ka is let go. Cha-Ka quickly climbs down the rope and a beaming Colonel (who seems unconcerned about the loss of Cha-Ka) bids them farewell.
- Coming up
- Ron Harper as Jack Marshall
- Wesley Eure as Will Marshall
- Kathy Coleman as Holly Marshall
- Philip Paley as Cha-Ka
- David Healy as Colonel Roscoe T. Post
- Walker Edmiston as The Wisdom Skull
- Jon Locke as The Sleestak Leader
- William Boyd as Sleestak
- Cleveland Porter as Sleestak
- Although Jack explains that the dinosaur he distracted was "Grumpy...a tyrannosaurus rex," the dinosaur model used for Grumpy's appearance was clearly Big Alice. The sound-effect used was certainly the roar used for Grumpy. Big Alice's roar is more high-pitched.
- Jack's use of hydrogen to cause Torchy to ignite the air around him was at least implausible. Hydrogen released into the air would immediately rise, not remain at ground level to form a cloud.
- The Colonel was terrified at the thought of Torchy's breath causing the hydrogen canisters to explode, but was remarkably unconcerned over Cha-Ka's demonstration of exploding crystals near the canisters.
- Brontosaurus eggs were approximately a foot long. The egg shells that Holly identifies as brontosaurus eggs were several feet in diameter.
- As the Marshalls struggle to hold the balloon down to prevent the Colonel from escaping with Cha-Ka, Holly asks, "Cha-Ka, do you want to go [with the Colonel]?" This is a seemingly ridiculous question, as Cha-Ka has already made it abundantly clear that he wants to stay with the Marshalls. Furthermore, even if Cha-Ka had stated he wants to go with the Colonel to a world that's completely alien to him, he is far too young to be entrusted with such an important decision. But Holly may have intended this question as an appeal to the Colonel to consider Cha-Ka's feelings.
- The Colonel's balloon used hydrogen gas, not hot air, to remain aloft. The episode is almost certainly called "Hot Air Artist" because braggarts (like the Colonel) are said to be "full of hot air."
- This is the only episode that addresses the question of what happens to Cha-Ka if the Marshalls do manage to escape the Land of the Lost. Cha-Ka was separated from the rest of his tribe by a fissure that opened up in the ground during the earthquakes set off by Rick Marshall. Cha-Ka is far too young to survive on his own and, lacking any other Pakuni tribes to care for him, the Marshalls' plan was apparently to take Cha-Ka with them.