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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
Land of the Lost: Arrival Land of the Lost

Opening titles of the TV series
Original airdate: September 7, 1974


Rick Marshall and his children, Will and Holly, on a routine expedition, meet the greatest adventure ever known.


Story Summary


On a routine expedition through the Grand Canyon, Rick Marshall and his children, Will and Holly, raft down the Colorado River on their little yellow inflatable raft. During the journey, they meet what is described in the theme song as "the greatest earthquake ever known." Rocks begin falling from the canyon sides. The tiny raft is buffeted by increasing rapids. Soon, they are forced towards an immense waterfall, powerless to stop their plunge to the bottom.


Somehow, the raft lands intact on dry ground, the air-filled raft buffering the family from injury. They awake stunned, to the view of an out-of-place jungle...and the towering vision of a Tyrannosaurus rex looming over them. Quickly gathering their wits, the three manage to scramble out of the raft and into the jungle, with the T. rex in lumbering pursuit. They spy a cave up on a cliffside and the athletically-inclined family is able to scramble up the rocks to safety inside. The tyrannosaur finds he is unable to stick his head inside to grab a human snack and turns away, roaring in frustration. 


Somehow, the Marshalls have found themselves in a strange land filled with dinosaurs...the Land of the Lost.


Didja Know?


"Arrival" is not an actual episode of the series, but the events of the opening titles and theme song seen at the beginning of every episode of the first and second seasons. I am treating it as an episode for purposes of this study.


The opening and closing songs of Land of the Lost were sung by Wesley Eure, who also plays Will Marshall in the series. In the third season, he would also perform some short songs in character at the end of a few episodes.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this story


Rick Marshall

Will Marshall

Holly Marshall



Didja Notice?


At 0:02 in the opening titles, notice that there appear to be a couple of thin, silvery streamers dangling from the cliff edge on the left, simulating a thin stream of water cascading down into the canyon. 


Although it has long been rumored in fan circles that the Marshalls were rafting through the Grand Canyon during the "greatest earthquake ever known", it is never actually confirmed in the series. The opening shot of the opening titles does look similar to portions of the Grand Canyon, though it is all matte paintings and miniature sets. The close walls of the canyon actually look more like Glen Canyon, which leads into the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon Glen Canyon
Opening canyon Glen Canyon (from


Both this series and Valley of the Dinosaurs have opening titles featuring a scenic, rocky canyon and a family moving down a rapidly-flowing river in a rubber raft.
Amazon canyon Land of the Lost, opening canyon shot
Valley of the Dinosaurs intro Land of the Lost intro
Butler family Marshall family
Butler family Marshall family


The song describes the earthquake met by the Marshalls as the "greatest earthquake ever known". In the real world, the biggest earthquake in recorded history was the May 22, 1960 Valdivia, Chile earthquake with a 9.5 magnitude. The song may represent hyperbole on the part of the Marshalls, being the greatest earthquake they've ever known.


The scene of the Marshalls' raft riding the rough rapids and plunging down the waterfall is repeated in "Circle" as they observe their own past selves arriving in the Land.


At 0:54 in the opening titles, as Grumpy stalks after the Marshalls through the jungle, at the bottom of the screen, the plywood base of the miniature set is visible.

Grumpy in the Jungle


The pterosaur seen at 0:56 in the opening titles is a Pteranodon, as evidenced by the long, pointed crest on its head. The shot is reused numerous times in the series as an establishing shot of the Marshalls' cave, known a High Bluff. 


The aforementioned episode, "Circle", depicts the Marshalls deciding to call the cave at High Bluff their home while they search for a way out of this strange land.

Unanswered Questions

What caused the earthquake on the river experienced by the Marshalls? Though earthquakes are not unknown in northern Arizona, the state does not frequently experience large ones. Was it triggered by the opening of the time doorway that ultimately brings them to the Land of the Lost? In the episode "Circle", the Marshalls themselves, with Enik's assistance, open a time doorway for their own past selves to enter the Land and allow their "present" selves to leave (seemingly...and yet, not), though no earthquake is depicted at the time within the Land itself. (It could be that there was a quake on the surface, but not felt in the subterranean caverns of the Lost City; earthquakes can often go unnoticed by people underground, absorbed by the rock around them). The later episode "After-Shock" depicts Rick opening a time doorway to the Grand Canyon and another earthquake causing him to fall through (leaving his kids stranded in the Land) and bringing in Uncle Jack, who had been searching the riverways of the canyon for months for his lost brother, niece, and nephew. So it would seem that at least the time doorway leading to the Grand Canyon is accompanied by earthquakes on both Earth and in the Land of the Lost.

Memorable Dialog


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