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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Land of the Lost: Circle Land of the Lost
Written by Larry Niven and David Gerrold
Directed by Dennis Steinmetz
Original airdate: December
28, 1974

Enik discovers a time-loop in the time doorway caused by the Marshalls' presence in the Land of the Lost.

Read the complete story summary by Nels Olsen

Notes from the Marshall Timeline

I've placed "Circle" significantly out of its airdate order. In "Circle" the Marshalls are depicted as discovering, for the first time, the Sleestak in their dormant season, hence it seems only logical that it should take place sometime before "Follow That Dinosaur" in which the Marshalls are already aware of the Sleestaks' hibernation status and actually witness the end of their dormancy when the lava rises in the Devil's Cauldron.

Didja Notice?

Rick swims with a t-shirt on. Maybe Spencer Milligan didn't want to show off his gut?

After Will discovers an underwater cavern at the water hole, Rick remarks the whole area is honeycombed with caverns and tunnels just like in the Lost City. This makes them worried that the Sleestak could come up in their region at any time. The tunnels would have to go pretty far down and then come back up to get past the deep crevasse the Marshalls have had to cross to reach the Lost City in the past. And why haven't the Sleestak used the tunnels to reach this region before? In "The Hole", S'latch said that any Sleestak who have crossed the crevasse have never returned. That said, the Marshalls do enter the underwater cavern and eventually wind up in Enik's cave with the time doorway, so the tunnels on this side of the crevasse do go all the way to the Lost City.

After emerging from the water in the underground cavern and putting their regular clothes back on, the Marshalls appear to be completely dry as they investigate the tunnels...even their hair!

The Sleestak emerging from the lagoon when he's chasing Holly may have been inspired by the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It's a great, creepy shot. If you freeze-frame it, you can see lots of water rushing out of the mask's nostrils and mouth. It must have been an uncomfortable situation for the actor!

There are Sleestak scenes in several of the episodes, including this one, in which there appears to be a problem with the Sleestak eyes; there seems to be a partial covering or something showing through the plastic lenses of the mask, possibly the shiny, patterned stickers that David Gerrold says were placed inside the sockets to create a multi-faceted impression to the eyes. To me the No-Prize answer to this inconsistency to the Sleestak eyes is that they have a nictitating membrane that occasionally covers the eye.

In fear from the Sleestak that follows her to the surface of the water hole, Holly pulls a pair of blue and yellow crystals out of a backpack and tosses it towards to the water to produce a blinding flash that forces the Sleestak back underwater. Blue and yellow crystals are not a combination seen before; in the past it has been green and red that produced a brief light. And besides this error, how could the two crystals Holly tossed through the air, into the water, stay in contact long enough to produce a light long enough to frighten off a Sleestak? It would have been more logical to have her throw a red and yellow, which, when in contact with each other, produce an explosive effect.

At 6:38 on the DVD, Holly is suddenly completely dry again, despite having swum up to the water hole in her clothes just minutes before.

Why do the Triceratops, Coelophysis and Brontosaurus all rush to drink from the lagoon at the same time? And leave at the same time? Are they a gang?

At 7:53 on the DVD, Enik says, "They cannot harm you, Will Human." Will Human? Listen: Will human.wav

Enik tells Will about the law of conservation of temporal momentum and ultradimensional matrices, explaining that nothing can leave through the time doorway unless something of equal mass and temporal energy enters.

Enik shows Will an aerial view of a canyon through the time doorway at 10:21 on the DVD and Will immediately declares that it's Earth. For the TV viewer, we know it is the same introductory scene from the open titles each week, but how does Will know it's on Earth and not somewhere in the Land of the Lost or another world?

At 10:45 on the DVD, Will states there was a mist he and his family fell through as the passed through the time doorway after their raft went over the waterfall (in "Arrival").

Enik instructs Rick to pull a white crystal from the wall and place it on the matrix table to open the time doorway. As far as is known, this step was not required in order for Rick to (accidentally) pass through a time doorway at the beginning of season three in "After-Shock".

At 20:51 on the DVD, Enik touches his pendant. Is this what causes the scene in the time doorway to change from that of Earth to the Marshalls' arrival in the Land of the Lost?

After the Marshalls step through the time doorway and Enik watches their arrival in the Land, we are shown the scene of them taking refuge in the cave at High Bluff and we see Grumpy start to walk away. And though we don't see it, we get to hear the roar he makes as he "looks into the camera" from the last shot of the weekly opening credits.

The cave at High Bluff is much more cluttered with rocks and dirt as seen here; the Marshalls cleaned it up quite a bit before the beginning of "Cha-Ka".

Something must happen to undue/prevent the events of "Circle" since the Marshalls continue to exist in the Land of the Lost and never mention the events in any subsequent episode this season or the next two seasons.

Notes from the audio commentary by David Gerrold and Larry Niven

Gerrold reveals that the idea for the crystals found in the Land of the Lost were inspired by Harlan Ellison's original script for the Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever".

Gerrold says the idea behind the Land of the Lost is that it is a staging area for travelling between worlds.

Rick Marshall was written as Gerrold's idea of a role-model father.

Gerrold remarks that whenever fire is used on the show they always had one of the characters telling the others to be careful. He didn't want kids watching the show to be inspired to play with fire. (In my case the "carefuls" didn't make much of an friend Casey and I used to run around with makeshift torches inside an old mine tunnel near my house as if it were the Lost City!)

Memorable Dialog

Will human.wav
ultradimensional matrices.wav
equal mass and temporal energy.wav
we can't leave here either.wav
the puzzling part.wav
Daddy do something.wav
if we didn't fall through the time doorway.wav
the balance of the doorways.wav
again and again.wav
until the paradox is resolved.wav
tentative solution.wav
a nightmare within a nightmare.wav
I could save you.wav
against the code.wav
the raft will fall.wav
you must go through.wav
Mister Enik.wav
safe place.wav
we'll get back home.wav

People, Places and Things (Provided by Michael Taylor)

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