Category Archives: land of the lost

Doctor Who: The Hungry Earth

Like the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, the Sontarans, and maybe to a much subtler extent, the Ice Warriors, it’s now time for the Silurians to get their makeover in the 21st century version of “Doctor Who.” Also known as Homo Reptilia or the Eocenes, and cousin to the amphibian Sea Devils, these creatures were here on Earth long before mankind and went into hibernation, and have encountered the Doctor in the past.

This new incarnation of the Silurians is more humanoid, and they have had their previous monstrous visages written off as masks. Nice touch, that, even though the new masks are still very scary. The new make-up gives the actors more opportunity to emote. They are very Sleestakian in appearance (in a good way) with long whiplash tongues. As I’ve mentioned before, Steven Moffet wants to keep us behind the sofa.

On to “The Hungry Earth,” in this Chris Chibnall written episode, the year is 2020 and a drilling operation is going deeper than ever before, and people are disappearing. This is where the TARDIS lands, and almost immediately Rory splits off from the Doctor and Amy. He can handle himself, not always well, but he can. This is one of the things I like about Rory. He’s starting to remind me a bit of Harry Sullivan or Jamie McCrimmon.

The Doctor makes a frightening discovery – “While you’ve been drilling down, they’ve been drilling up.” When Amy disappears, yanked into the ground by whatever lurks below, the tension of the anti-relationship between Rory and the Doctor intensifies. The Doctor thinks he’s lost her, and it’s an anguishing moment for actor Matt Smith. He just keeps getting better and better.

This also begins to establish a pattern we’ve been seeing since the start of the Matt’s turn at the character – if the Doctor says you’ll be safe, if he says everything will be all right… you should run. Unlike David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston, Matt doesn’t seem to be able to keep his word. He fails a lot, so if he promises you something, run. Or to quote the Doctor himself, “Under the circumstances, I’d suggest… run!”

Obviously it’s the Silurians who are down under causing trouble, and planning to make war on the ‘apes’ above. And with Amy a prisoner down there, the good guys take a prisoner of their own – a Silurian woman with a thick Scottish accent, which tends to stretch the suspension of disbelief for me a bit. Meera Syal plays Nasreen Chaudry, a doctor at the drill site helping the Doctor. She’s a fun character, more fun than Amy in my opinion, who I wouldn’t mind see joining the TARDIS crew.

And for all those snobs who had problems with the early season five previews that showed the Matt Smith Doctor with a gun (which was not at all what it seemed to be, as shown at the end of “Time of the Angels”), the Doctor has a great line in this episode where he says, “No weapons. It’s not the way I do things.”

A sidenote, there was also some terrific incidental music by Murray Gold in this episode. I can’t wait until the next soundtrack comes out. The composer has been outdoing himself this season.

Until next time… “Hey, don’t dis the sonic!”

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Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost ~ ”Marshall, Will and Holly, on a routine expedition, met the greatest earthquake ever known…”

And so began the opening of one of the more innovative series ever to grace Saturday mornings. Created by Sid and Marty Krofft, notorious for Saturday morning kids fare that seemed to be acid-induced like “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Lidsville” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “Land of the Lost” was different.

The series, in the first two seasons at least (we will not speak of the Uncle Jack episodes), featured a solid science fiction premise, which is no wonder with folks like David Gerrold, Larry Niven, Ben Bova, D.C. Fontana, Norman Spinrad, Theodore Sturgeon and Walter Koenig involved in its production.

The premise involved a family on a camping vacation dropped into a place outside of time and space, structured by dimensional portals that controlled every aspect of the world, which was populated by dinosaurs, cave people called Pakuni (the writers even created a 200-word language for them) and hissing lizard-like inhabitants called Sleestak. The world had a very precise internal continuity and logic, and the well-written stories (despite the drinking game that can be had every time someone yells the kids’ names or Dad touches one of them) more than made up for the sometimes less-than-adequate special effects. This was the 1970s after all.

The show is held in high regard by many, including comedian Will Ferrell, who coincidentally played a character named Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly in Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Now, in this 2009 feature film version of “Land of the Lost,” he gets to play the real thing.

Now, I’ve never been a fan of Ferrell’s comedy, either on “Saturday Night Live” or in film (although I did like his semi-serious turns in Winter Passing and Stranger than Fiction), so I was a bit distressed when I heard he would be starring in this obviously comedic take on the classic scifi series. It should also be noted, and not forgotten, he also had a hand in another TV remake for the big screen – the better-off-forgotten Bewitched.

The preview was at the dreaded Cherry Hill AMC Loews, where it was sponsored by at least four media outlets. WXPN (the only terrestrial radio station in town worth listening to any more) gave us the passes but they weren’t there. Glenn Kalina, now doing mornings for 97.5 Now, has looked better, and seemed so thrilled doing the pre-show trivia and giveaways. Maybe a bit more caffeine, Glenn.

Vittoria from the ‘CW Crew’ had considerably more energy, as did the nameless dude from WMMR. And props to him too for telling people to turn their damned cellphones off. I also had issue with one of his trivia questions. He asked what MMR stood for and took the answer ‘Means More Rock’ – but really, isn’t the answer ‘Metro Media Radio’?

The film begins (and ends) with the Matt Lauer bit that we’ve all seen in the previews, and thus starts the pattern of every other typical Will Ferrell slob comedy. All my hopes from seeing interviews from Sid and Marty Krofft that this was “a respectable, serious take” on their property are dashed pretty quickly on. When pee-pee and poo-poo jokes are given more screen time than the actual plot or character development, the truth is pretty much splashed on the wall.

There are a couple funny bits, I’ll admit it. Chaka is a hoot, and a far cry from the innocent ape-child of the TV series. And Leonard Nimoy doing his best George Takei impersonation while voicing the Zarn is hilarious. What hurts most is that this could have been a serious adaptation. The effects are here, and so are all the elements. It’s all here. Fans of the show can see all the trademarks of the show – Pylons, Sleestak, the Library of Skulls, the Pakuni language, Grumpy, Alice, the Altrusian moths, even Holly’s Dopey speech. It’s all here.

Anna Friel, of “Pushing Daisies,” using her real accent for once is fun, as is Danny McBride of HBO’s “Eastbound & Down.” And I really liked the revamping of the Sleestak, nice updated design. This film is similar to “Smallville” when compared to its source material, the old Superboy comic books. Some of the names and situations are the same – but it’s completely different.

This was an okay movie for free, and funny and fun occasionally. Will Ferrell fans will love it, unfortunately I’m not one of them.

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Super Bowl Aftermath: Movie Previews

Here’s the rundown (or at least my rundown) on the 2009 Super Bowl movie previews…

First we got another look at J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek

Now I’m sure the commercials in 3-D were good, as was the movie preview and it looks like the movie itself will be a lot of fun, but – has anyone been able to find those special 3-D glasses? I know I haven’t and I think I’ll need them for “Chuck” tonight as well…