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"Cha-Ka"

Episode 01 [pilot]

Airdate: 1974/09/07
Writer: David Gerrold
Director: Dennis Steinmetz

The first episode opens with Will, Holly, and Dad watching some coelophyses. Holly defines her youth and playful nature by naming one of them "Spot". The dangers of the jungle are also established by Will's shocked reaction to Holly's casual attitude, and by an approaching Tyrannosaur. The T-Rex stalks Spot, and the Marshalls escape. Holly names the Tyrannosaurus "Grumpy". When Will and Holly express their desire to return home, Dad explains that seeing three moons in the sky the night before and having seemingly fallen through a hole in space over the waterfall have led him to believe they're in another world. Dad attempts to comfort his distraught children by reminding them that if there's a way in, there's got to be a way out. Grumpy picks up the Marshalls' scent, sending them on the run.

Dad goes off to check if they can safely return to the cave, Holly, meanwhile, hears something and wanders off. Will catches up with her and scolds her. While arguing about Holly's ability to take care of herself, they stumble upon a humming pylon. Soon distracted by the sound they heard, Will and Holly hide behind a log to watch three monkey people in a clearing near the swamp. The creatures are chanting "ota" (fire) as the largest one strikes flint over some tinder. Grumpy suddenly towers over the monkey people; when they begin to flee, the little one falls, injuring his leg. Upon Holly's demand, Will rescues the little one, while Grumpy frightens away the larger two. In the chase, Grumpy inadvertently wedges himself between two trees. Will and Holly escape, while the larger monkey people to return to the clearing, searching in vain as they call out to their missing "Cha-Ka".

Will is able to examine Cha-Ka's wound by befriending him with a drink of water, or "osu" as Cha-Ka calls it. Will guesses that the injury is probably just a fracture. While waiting for Dad, Will and Holly establish basic communication with Cha-Ka, teaching him their names and informing him that they are "humans". Cha-Ka responds with his name, and tells them that he is "Pakuni".

When Dad returns, the children introduce him to Cha-Ka and his injury. Dad decides they should get Cha-Ka to the cave where he can work on him. Just when the Marshalls begin elevating Cha-Ka to the cave mouth using rope, pulley, and bamboo basket, Grumpy arrives. Cha-Ka is quickly lowered down so that Will and Cha-Ka can take cover between a large rock and the base of the bluff. Angry and roaring at everyone, Grumpy chomps the basket, destroying it and cutting the rope. Dad and Holly decide that Grumpy hasn't learned his lesson yet ("What do you expect? His brain's only the size of a walnut," explains Holly ) and give him the "flyswatter".

Later, after Cha-Ka has been hoisted up to the cave, Dad tends to Cha-Ka's leg. Cha-Ka gazes in awe at how Holly "magically" starts a fire with Dad's lighter. Dad cleans the wound with boiled water, sets Cha-Ka's leg, and applies a splint. Holly stands by, reassuring Cha-Ka that they are "friend" during the pain. Holly asks Dad's permission to keep Cha-Ka as their pet, but Dad reminds her that people don't own other people, that Cha-ka is free to stay or leave as he wishes. He informs Holly and Will that Cha-Ka probably wants to get back to his own people.

When Cha-Ka believes that the others are asleep, he steals the lighter and sneaks off. The Marshalls follow him through the jungle, running into him as he turns to avoid Grumpy. When Dad forcibly takes back the lighter, the Marshalls find themselves under melon-fire by Cha-Ka's Pakuni friends up in a tree. The largest one shouts to them in Pakuni, apparently demanding the Marshalls to release Cha-Ka. The Pakuni come down from the tree and confront the Marshalls with large sharpened sticks. Will and Holly become upset, concluding that their compassion and aid to Cha-Ka was apparently in vain. Dad responds to the Pakuni threat by using his "magic" lighter to awe and frighten them, but Grumpy saves the day, ending their confrontation by scaring everyone away.

The Marshalls awake the next morning to find giant fruit laid out for them, "like breakfast in bed", at the mouth of the cave. Spotting Pakuni tracks in the clearing below, they rejoice in having won Cha-Ka's friendship. They enjoy their breakfast as Cha-Ka watches, hidden behind foliage, smiling.

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