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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Land of the Lost: Opah "Opah"
Written by Len Janson and Chuck Menville
Story by Bobby Porter
Directed by Gabe Torres
Original airdate: September
26, 1992

Stink’s long-missing grandfather returns.

Notes from the Porter Timeline

I placed "Opah" at the top of the second season so that it could be said to almost immediately follow "Power Play". It seems reasonable to assume that the gasoline for the truck would run out at about the same time as the batteries in the Porters' electronic equipment.

Didja Know?

The second season of LOTL90 is generally considered the better of the two total seasons of the series; it tries to delve more into the history and mystery of the Land in episodes such as "Opah" and "Dreammaker" and has strong character episodes like "Annie in Charge", "Life's a Beach" and "Cheers".

During this season Tom is sporting longer hair and Kevin has a new 'do as well. A nice touch is that we often see Annie wearing Kevin's hand-me-downs, indicating her own growth spurt (which LOTL70 conveniently ignored in regards to Kathy Coleman!).

The opening theme montage is mostly the same as the first season, but the credit shots of Timothy Bottoms, Robert Gavin, and Jennifer Drugan are now scenes from the new season.

This Stink-centric episode features a story by Bobby Porter, the actor who portrays Stink (and a really nice guy to boot if you ever have a chance to meet him).

This episode was nominated for the Humanitas Prize, an award for film and television writing that promotes human dignity, meaning, and freedom.

Co-writer and co-producer Chuck Menville died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma during the filming of this episode; there is a dedication to him at the top of the end credits.

The LOTL70 second season episode "The Musician" also dealt with a Paku playing the flute as Cha-ka takes an evolutionary step for his species with the help of the enigmatic Builder. Cha-ka also plays the flute briefly in the third season episode "Flying Dutchman".

Didja Notice?

The opening scene of the teaser is quite nice and a throwback to many of the introductory scenes of LOTL70. It features Big Guy in the lake, mountains and a volcano in the background, and pterodactyls flying overhead.

In the scene from 1:16-1:20, as Kevin is accusing her of eating all the melons from the garden, Tasha is even more anthropomorphic than usual; she shakes her head no, then holds up her left hand and crosses herself with her right.

As Opah appears from the brush and pelts Kevin with melon rinds, the Jeep pulls up with Tom and Annie. But, in the introductory shot of Kevin and Tasha at the tree-house, the Jeep was already parked in its usual spot!

Before Stink arrives, the Porters turn to Annie to speak and translate Opah's Pakuni speech. Presumably, she has taken an interest in the language and is learning it from Christa and Stink.

Tom mentions he is going to spend the day looking for a fuel source because the Jeep is running on empty. If that's the case, why were he and Annie out driving around that morning? Until they find some kind of fuel source, wouldn't they ration what they have for emergencies?

I've noticed that in both seasons, whenever Tom says something in Pakuni, he pronounces or stresses the syllables slightly differently than the others. Here, he says "me namu" instead of "me nomu" and "daiyee" instead of "daiyay". Was this an intentional character quirk given to Tom by actor Timothy Bottoms?

At 10:50 in the episode, Tom discovers a bubbling pit of petroleum with dinosaur skeletons in and around it. This is meant to suggest "fossil fuel", I suppose. Is this place in or near the dinosaur graveyard called the Valley of Death as seen in "Jungle Girl"?

The story suggests that Opah may be a sort of medicine man of the Pakuni. Besides his magical flute-playing which entrances or chases off dinosaurs, he provides Tom with a powder to take on his hike for "good luck" and it turns out to be exactly what he needs to save himself from a creature in the oil pit; some tentacles lash out from the pit and coil around his arm and leg, attempting to pull him in and Tom dumps the powder on the two tentacles which causes them to start smoking and immediately retract. This series of events seem to suggest some precognitive ability on the part of Opah.

At 19:49 in the episode, as Kevin is telling Opah it was their pleasure to have him as a guest, actor Robert Gavin is looking off camera at his own eye-level. He should be looking down at the diminutive Paku!

Opah provides the Porters with the knowledge of tapping the sap of a certain tree to drain a resin that is flammable and useful as fuel. It is actually true that some pine trees have a resin which can be burned. Most accounts in the real world seem to indicate that some refining and additives are necessary to keep it burning steadily. This may be why the writers also have Tom discovering the petroleum pit earlier in the episode, to provide a solution to this problem; perhaps a refined mixture of the resin and oil is what the Porters finally use as fuel for the Jeep.

Opah leaves Stink a gift of the flute. As Stink plays the same tune learned from Opah at the end of the episode, he seems to play the instrument better than the old Paku himself! Did Stink play a similar instrument as a youngster?

Pakuni translations
Time in episode Pakuni English
3:32 Annie says, "Acuba ne." "Greetings."
3:34 Opah says, "Acuba ne?" "Greetings?"
3:38 Opah says, "Wannabe anaka." These words are unknown. Annie tells us that he is saying something about the Porters and the jungle.
3:49 Opah says, "Stink? Saigo Stink? Saigo?" "Stink? Where is Stink? Where?" Annie translates this for us.
4:11 Annie says, "Mizha yay ba azirie." This means, approximately, "You can wait here."
4:29 Annie says, "Me nomu Annie Porter. Nomu Tasha." "My name is Annie Porter. Her name Tasha."
4:33 Tom says, "Me nomu Tom Porter." "My name is Tom Porter."
4:36 Opah says, "Me nomu Opah" "My name is Opah."
4:48 Opah says, "Acuba ne, Stink." "Greetings, Stink."
4:51 Opah says, "Anu! Huma na be. Stink Paku. Te Paku a be. Acuba ne, Stink." "No! You're not human. Stink Paku. You are a Paku. Greetings, Stink." This is a loose translation based on the context of the scene and the fact that the Pakuni in this episode seems to be based on recognizable Latin derivations; "me nomu" for "my name", etc.
5:02 Stink says, "Acuba ne, Opah." "Greetings, Opah."
6:35 Opah says, "Oogee tiki." "Good luck."
6:54 Tom says, "Daiyay." "Thank you."
7:40 Opah says, "Banda ba nay. Te lai a la roca. Anu Paku. Anu Stink. Botsongay ayo. Ocho benebe ayo. Osutu. Opah de nanku sa mir. Eh tarde que mas y nanta mu de, Stink. Me lo car da le." There seem to be a few words recognizable as Pakuni from LOTL70 such as ba=come, anu=no, ayo=yes. The other words are unknown, but seem to resemble Spanish, e.g. te=you, "a la"="at the", roca=rock, ocho=eight, de=of/from, tarde=afternoon/behind schedule, me=my.
8:09 Opah says, "No ma Paku vie eh pong kot. Osutu Stink de malu banesh." Stink tells us that Opah said that (Kevin) teaches Stink to be a bad Paku.
8:17 Stink says, "Anu." "No."
8:37 Opah says, "Anu. Human, anu. Malu. Stink no human. Stink Paku." "No. Human, no. Bad. Stink not human. Stink Paku."
8:50 Kevin says "musica" music. "Musica" just happens to the Spanish word for music.
9:12 Opah says, "Fo ta musica. Malu! Malu! Stink, anu human musica. Te Paku musica. Nomu musica. "(Fo ta) music. Bad! Bad! Stink, no human music. (Te) Paku music. This is music."
10:18 Opah says, "No play now." "Not play now." Seemingly, Opah has picked up the human word "play".
10:23 Opah says, "Noo se, noo se!" noo=no, se is unknown.
13:54 Stink says, "Anu!" "No!"
16:02 Opah says, "Be ly!" This word is unknown. From the context, it possibly means "go away."
16:07 Opah says "musica" music
16:55 Stink says, "Opah, Scarface muy..." "muy" is unknown, but in Spanish means "very", so from the context of the scene, Stink may have been about to tell Opah that Scarface is very...(dangerous?).
16:58 Opah says, "Musica.' "Music."
17:06 Stink says "musica" music.
19:00 Opah says, "Stink boom ba." This phrase is unknown, but Stink seems to indicate it means that Opah has accepted him as a Paku.
19:17 Opah says, "Opah ku." "Opah go."
19:22 Stink says, "Machigi. Machigi!" "Stay. Stay!"
19:24 Opah says, "Opah ku." "Opah go."
19:42 Opah says, "Daiyay." "Thank you."
20:00 Opah says, "Osu?" "Water?"
20:01 Tom says, "Ota-osu." "Fire-water."
20:04 Opah says, "Osu." "Water." It seems that Opah is actually using the word "osu" as a general term for "liquid" rather than water specifically.
20:24 Opah says, "Ota-osu." "Fire-water."
20:50 Opah says, "Opah ku." "Opah go."
20:58 Stink says, "Acuba ne, Opah." "Farewell, Opah."
21:28 Opah says, "Acuba ne, Tasha." "Farewell, Tasha."

Unanswered Questions

Now that Stink has Opah's flute and seems able to play it, would the same properties to entrance or chase off dinosaurs apply to him as it did to Opah?

Where is Christa in this episode? It seems like she would be interested in a new Paku showing up in the area.

Why doesn't Opah ask about Christa? Did he disappear before she arrived in this part of the Land? If so, he must have been gone quite a long time. Other episodes indicate that Christa was a child when she was found and raised by the Pakuni and she is an adult now. For Opah and Christa not to know each other would suggest he's been gone for at least 8-10 years.

Memorable Dialog

where are my melons.wav
monkey breath.wav
truck's running on empty.wav
he had a major cow.wav
teach Stink be bad Paku.wav
human, bah.wav
heavy rolling rock.wav
what if he has cooties.wav
cooties good.wav
we struck oil.wav
you old rascal.wav
big hearty hoo-ha.wav
old people are weird.wav
it grows on trees.wav
our own gas station.wav
Opah's music.wav

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