All Sleestak, All The Time...

No, not the SDMB member, but the lizard-men on the eternally perplexing 1970s Saturday morning children’s show, “Land of the Lost”.

I did a search, and as far as I can tell, it’s been 4 years since the last Sleestak-devoted thread, and that, IMO, was in the wrong forum.

I thought about explaining what the Sleestak are, for the benefit of anyone who didn’t see the show, but then i realized there was no way in hell to describe that program to anyone who wasn’t a fan.

So what was up with them?

I mean, it was a kid’s show about dinosaurs, not exactly a tough sell. Why throw something else in, and WHY THE SLEESTAK? And if you’re going to have the Sleestak, why have Enik, the supra-genius fellow lost traveller from the race destined to degenerate into the Sleestak.

Yes, this basically an attempt to enter the collective mind of Sid and Marty Krofft, a truly forboding and possible dangerous place to be.

Around 1984, author Dougal Dixon published a book called The New Dinosaurs, a sequel to his post-catastrophe menagerie, After Man. This one was about what might have happened evolutionarily if the Dinosaurs had not gone extinct. In a back section of the book, he describes what other scientists have thought might have occurred, which included a man-shaped reptilian being known as a dinosauroid. I don’t know how old speculation on the dinosauroid was at that point, but could it have been the basis for the Krofft Sleestak?

If you don’t feel like speculation, please feel free to share your favorite Sleestak memories…

What forum should it have been in? Great Debates? There was no Cafe Society yet in April of 2000. Sheesh.

Wasn’t it the other way 'round? He was from the future and was from the race that the Sleestack evolved into? I thought that was one of the clues that helped them figure out (as if there weren’t enough already) that they were in a parallel dimension, not the distant past of Marshall, Will and Holly’s world.

I seem to recall Enik saying at one point that he had to try to get back home because he had figured out how to keep them from degenerating into the Sleestak, but I could be wrong.

The “Dinosauroid” was the creation of paleontologist Dale Russell in his 1982 paper, “Reconstruction of the small Cretaceous theropod Stenonychosaurus inequalis and a hypothetical dinosauroid”. Land of the Lost ran from 1974-76, so the Sleestak wasn’t inspired by the Dinosauroid (though the reverse may be true…).

Incidently, season 1 of LotL is slated for a June 29, 2004 release on DVD.

A brief synopsis of the show: (I’d say “the original show”, but there WAS NO REMAKE. NO, that’s just a nasty rumor)

The Marshalls, a widower and his son and daughter, are out rafting on a river when they fall through a time warp. They find themselves in a place inhabited by dinosaurs, ape-men and other prehistoric creatures. The show revolved around their exploring their strange new home while trying to find a way back.

Over the course of several episodes, it was revealed that the “Land of the Lost” was an artificial universe, a bubble of space-time about 30 miles in circumference, kept in existance by enigmatic mechanisms the Marshalls dubbed “pylons”. Periodically time warps would open from random periods of Earth’s history and pull things in, like the Marshalls.

Ok now, the Sleestaks: In an early (the first?) episode, the Marshall children find an ancient ruined city, and a sign in English warning “Beware the Sleestaks”. They soon find a race of savage nocturnal reptiles that spend the day deep underground, and who are not very friendly. Later the Marshalls encounter Enik, a time traveller who is appalled to discover that his race (the Altrusians, IIRC) will someday degenerate into the Sleestaks. In other later episodes we glimse Enik in his home time (when the city is new rather than ruined), and the Marshalls find the diary of a man from the Revolutionary War period who created the warning sign and gave the hostile reptiles the name “Sleestaks”.

The first season was the best, the second was so-so, but it badly went downhill for the third season.

Just to clarify Lumpy’s post:

In the early appearances, Enik (was it Enik or Enoch?) believes that he has travelled to the past, and that the Sleestak are his savage, cave-dwelling ancestors. Later, he is shocked to discover the ruins of his own people’s city: they are not primitive ancestors, they are degenerate descendants.

LotL was one of my favorite shows as a kid. The Sleestaks scared the hell out of me, and I always really thought that the Marshalls might make it home in every episode, only to have my hopes dashed.
I also used to enjoy the similarly themed Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Great show. I have many fond memories: Grumpy, Alice & Spot, pylons with the glowing crystal matrix control table the Zarn. Holly, I was in love with her, when you are 12 she was a very hot chick. The episode that started with Holly swimming in the waterhole, my heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to explode.

Man, you guys have much better memories than me. All I remember was that the Sleestaks were scary as shit when I was six.

I had never heard of “Sleestak” before until today when a friend of mine (who is a Detroit Pistons fan) mentioned that Bill Lambier used to be a Sleestak. Very ironic that this thread popped up a few hours after that conversation.

I think they needed the Sleestaks to have an adversary different from Alice and Grumpy. They did the same thing everytime when dealing with those two. Plus the motivation of Alice and Grumpy was simply that they are dinosaurs and they eat things.

But the Sleestaks are a different story.

And they allow different stories to be told rather than “Run Away! Run Away!” As an adversary the Sleestaks are much more interesting than Alice or Grumpy.
Sa-lees ataka!

30 miles? That’s it? Why <grabs calculator>, that’s only about 9.55 miles across, or 15.37 km across. Light would only take about 0.051 seconds to traverse it. The place must have had walls or something, because if you looked in any direction, the world would look like some crazy house of mirrors, with a clear view of yourself from behind repeated endlessly. If you got up on top of a high hill, you could see the back of your head easily with a pair of binoculars. Again and again and again…

Man, Sid and Marty were nuts.

On the chance that I’m not being whooshed:
They DID have an episode where they got up on a mountain and could see themselves off in the distance. And in another they followed a river hoping it would lead to somewhere and ended back where they’d started in about a day or so. I picked the 30 mile figure out of my hat, but it seemed about right. The LOTL was like a hypersphere; any direction looped back on itself eventually. In one episode, Holly got lost in the underground caverns beneath the Sleestak city, and climbed a rope down a hole that lead… to up in the sky.

Did we ever see them get home? Was there a ‘finale’ episode, or did it just die quietly in a corner somewhere?

I vividly remember the episode where Holly meets her older self, who comes through a gate in a pylon. Conversations between the two confirmed (although older-Holly was reluctant to divulge details) that the family would, indeed, eventually make it home. I always loved those pylons: the light-up arrays of crystals in their control panels were a very cool image and got used in a number of clever ways.

Ditto on the terrifying-Sleestaks thing, by the way.

Well, Dad got home and was replaced with Uncle Jack. Anyone remember how they explained that?

I seem to recall an ep where Enik revealed that the only way for them to escape was to be replaced by three other people. They “replaced” themselves with themselves, getting out of the LOTL by causing their earlier selves to be trapped there in the first place.

Who was that guy who was made out of stars? I always thought he looked really cool.

No, no whooshing intended. I barely remember the show (except that I liked it and that the Sleestak’s scared the everlovin’ shite out of me), and sure as hell don’t remember them going up on a hill and seeing themselves. Reading your reply creeps me out, actually, like some portion of my subconscious took over and made me write that because I must have seen it and remembered it at some level. Howzabout that, they actually considered the “hyperspheric” consequences of a tiny bubble-universe.

Sid and Marty were still fucking nuts, though.

Y’know, one thing I do remember, even as a kid, was that the special effects were kinda cheezy. I remember, in one episode, I think this big-ass bigfoot lookin’ thing was rampaging through the jungle, and ran up to eat some Sleestak eggs. So it smacks around some eggs, picks one up like it’s drinking from it, and then runs off with a bunch of them. Thing is, they were just big peices of foam or whatever, didn’t break open, or anything of the sort. They just bounced around and the whole thing looked totally ridiculous. I mean, when you’re six years old, and you’re thinking “that looks so freakin’ fake!”, that’s some crap-ass special effects.

Anyway, where were we…Wherefore the Sleestak…Damned if I know. I think, as suggested above, running away from dinosaurs and ape-men all the time would just get boring. So, to mix it up, they made up these lizard men, and gave 'em the nastiest-looking faces they could come up with (on a minimal budget, it would seem) to scare the holy bejeezus out of all the kids like me who watched it. Plus, when you figure these creepy, green, scaley, big-glassy-bug-eyed, hissing weirdos sprang from the fertile minds of the creators of The Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf (which both seem to me to have been inspired by acid-laced freak-outs held in kindergarten playrooms at midnight), anything and everything could be possible to explain the raison d’etre of the Sleestak.

That was Mr. Zarn.

Some notable science fiction writers like Larry Niven and Theodore Sturgeon penned stories for the series which ran for three seasons. Some episodes are available on DVD.

I ran across this odd Web site featuring the Sleestak/Bob Dole debates.