On the anniversary of the show's premiere, a visit to the 'Land of the Lost.' And, that great theme song.
"Marshall, Will and Holly,
On a routine expedition,
Met the greaaa-test earthquake ever known.
High on the rapids, it struck their tiny raft (aaah!)
And plunged them down a thousand feet below ...
to the Laaa-nd of the Lost!"
Thirty-eight years ago today - on Saturday morning, Sept. 7, 1974 - "Land of the Lost" premiered on NBC. Since, its melodic theme song has never left pop culture consciousness.
A production of the magical imaginations of brothers Sid and Marty Krofft, the action-adventure series introduced children of all ages to the Marshall family - father Rick (Spencer Milligan), son Will (Wesley Eure) and daughter Holly (Kathy Coleman). Oh, plus dinosaurs; tall, scaly, lizard-like creatures known as "Sleestak"; chimpanzee-like beings named "Pakuni," and, other whimsical wonders. All had been transported to a mesmerizing, yet confusing, world where the laws of time, space and physics bent.
Because of the chemistry of the cast, however, the show always felt like more than a by-the-numbers sci-fi series. To watch it was to feel as if we, too, were in the Land of the Lost with the Marshalls, fearfully accompanying them on their daunting adventures and celebrating with them at the end of each 30 minutes when they conquered formidable foes.
And, we couldn't - and still can't - get that theme song (written by Linda Laurie) out of our heads. Thankfully.
On the anniversary of the airing of the first "Land of the Lost" episode (the show ran on NBC through 1976; ABC updated it with a fairly faithful version in 1991, before a 2009 big-screen adaptation too loosely played with the show's beloved family-friendly focus), Chart Beat caught up with Coleman.
Here's what we found.
First, since this is Billboard, we have to talk about the great "Land of the Lost" theme song. How much a part of the show's lore do you think the song is? Do people ever sing it to you when meeting you?
The song is a big part of the show's memory. People sing it to me constantly. Even "Family Guy" sang it in one of its episodes. In the song, it says "Marshall, Will and Holly," so the never-ending question from fans is, "Is your father Marshall Marshall?"
How did you get cast as Holly Marshall in "Land of the Lost"?
After seven call-back interviews and meeting with producers, the director and the network, I landed the job. I believe it was the chemistry between Spencer Milligan, Wesley Eure, (Paku "Cha-Ka") Phillip Paley and I that sealed the deal. After all, I was Holly. I owned it!
As a child actor, it must have been so much fun to work on a set with realistic-looking dinosaurs, caves and furry, costumed "Pakuni." What was the experience like?
I don't think I could have asked for a more adventurous atmosphere. There were two huge soundstages, one exterior, one interior, that were filled with lots of cool places for Phillip Paley and me to mischievously get ourselves into. The prop master was our partner-in-crime. Phillip and I were best friends and enjoyed our childhood playground together. As far as show-biz kids go, we had an action-packed job.
The show had some pretty advanced special effects for the mid-'70s. The wizards at Krofft Entertainment knew what they were doing, didn't they?
Absolutely! They knew how to get into the minds of children and take them on an adventure. A fan of mine recently approached me and she told me that her days from childhood to present have been riddled with pain. But, for that half-hour on Saturday morning, she was pain-free. I guess the Kroffts can feel pretty good about that. I know I do.
The "Sleestak" still look scary. Were they in person? (And, former NBA bad boy Bill Laimbeer played one, right?)
Yes, Bill Laimbeer was a Sleestak. As far as the Sleestaks being scary on-set, the major portion of their costumes was made from a wet-suit material, and, just like you see with surfers on the beach, the actors, many of whom were basketball players, wore theirs pulled down in the front. The costumes were incredibly hot under the lights. But, most of the day, I just looked at their smiling faces. They were funny guys!
How close was the cast, including Milligan, Eure, Pailey and Ron Harper (who replaced Milligan, who left over contractual issues, arriving as "Uncle Jack" in the show's third season)?
The original cast was very much like a close-knit family. The third season was not only confusing to the fans but also confusing to us, especially me. I missed my "real" dad.
What favorite professional or personal adventures have you had since "Land of the Lost"?
Can I have two? One, when I was sailing and came upon 75 blue whales out by the Channel Islands. Two, my three years living on a pristine beach in Mexico.
The 2009 "Land of the Lost" movie took a sillier take on the story, whereas the wholesome original TV series had true heart, causing viewers to care about the Marshall family. Do you think the show's endearing family-value-based angle - a universal one of a family struggling to survive in a challenging environment - has made it endure for almost 40 years?
I've been asked this question numerous times. I struggled with an answer for a long time. The bottom line is, the movie wasn't "Land of the Lost." I don't speak with a British accent and my kisses to my father were on the cheek, not on the lips. As far as the family issue is concerned, that cast was not a family; they were acquaintances. But, isn't it cool that our show had such an enduring longevity? I'm happy for that.
What would 2012 Kathy Coleman tell 1974 Holly Marshall? (I suppose you might let her know if the Marshall family ever made it back home ...)
That's a good question. I would tell her to enjoy every second of the journey. I would tell her to never second-guess what God has in store for her. Just keep dreaming.
You must have been a first crush for countless boys in the '70s. Any interesting encounters with (perhaps flustered) guys who admit to it now?
You know it. I wish you could see the smile and hear the giggles that are coming from me at this moment.