Land of the Lost
Season 1, Episode 1
Air date September 7, 1974
Written by David Gerrold
Directed by Dennis Steinmetz
Episode Guide
Original Series, Season 1, Episode 2: "The Sleestak God"

Cha-Ka was written by David Gerrold, and is episode one of Season one of the original Land of the Lost TV series.

The Marshalls care for an injured hominid and gain an ally in their dangerous new home.


The Marshall family, hiding in the jungle, are watching dinosaurs (Holly declares one of them "cute" and says she will name him "Spot.") They run when a T-Rex approaches; the T-Rex chases Spot. Holly asks why the T-Rex is so "grumpy." Rick tells his annoying, complaining children that the T-Rex must eat to survive, and that he thinks they are in "another world," because the previous night he saw three moons. Rick believes that they entered this world when their raft went over the waterfall, which "never seemed to end," and seemed to "fall through a hole in space." Rick tells the children he believes there must be a way out, but it "might take us a while to find it."

The family keeps moving to avoid the T-Rex. As Rick scouts for a safe route back to the cave, having told the children to remain right where they are, the disobedient Holly wanders off to investigate nearby voices. The children discover a smooth, cold Pylon that makes a warbling noise. The children note that touching it feels "like touching nothing." Nearby they see a group of three hominids chanting and banging rocks together. The T-Rex menace's the hominids; the smallest of the three falls over while attempting to flee and breaks his leg on nothing. While the tyrannosaur chases the other two, apparently too stupid even to choose the slower, injured prey, Will and Holly rescue the smallest hominid, carrying him away. The tyrannosaur, chasing them, is delayed when he becomes stuck between two trees, allowing Will (carrying the hominid) and Holly to escape. The T-Rex then figures out how to escape the trap by walking backwards, and chases the other two hominids.

The hominid has an injured leg. The children feed him water from their canteen and attempt to communicate with him. He is able to imitate their names (somewhat poorly), gives his own as "Cha-Ka", and indicates that he is a "Pakuni". Rick arrives and they take Cha-Ka back to their cave, where they hoist him up with a basket attached to a rope and pulley, which it seems they have previously built for no reason.

As they raise Cha-Ka to the cave mouth the T-Rex (who Rick is now calling "Grumpy") approaches. While Rick and Holly rush into the cave, Will removes Cha-Ka from the basket and carries him behind a rock to hide, while Grumpy bites through the rope and chomps on the basket, which is visibly destroyed, but then in the next video frame becomes unharmed again. Grumpy can see Will and Cha-Ka but cannot reach them. Rick and Holly get the "fly-swatter," a long stick, and jam it into Grumpy's open mouth. He wanders away in dismay with the stick hanging from his mouth like a toothpick, unable to reach it with his stubby legs, but eventually dislodges it by shaking his head.

We next see that Cha-Ka is in the cave. Rick asks Holly to boil some water so that he can clean Cha-Ka's leg wound. Holly lights a fire using Rick's lighter as Cha-ka stares in fascination. After the kids bicker over Holly's cooking abilities, Rick assigns the next few days' worth of cooking duty to Will.

Later that afternoon, the water is apparently cool enough to apply to the invisible wound on Cha-Ka's leg. The cleaning of the wound is completed in one quick dab. Rick explains that he has set Cha-Ka's leg so that it will heal cleanly, although he had only a "slight fracture." Well, he did acknowledge that he was not a doctor. The Marshalls then apply an useless-looking splint made out of twigs and bandanas.

While the Marshalls sleep, Cha-Ka steals Rick's lighter and limps out of the cave, apparently now able to climb and jump down the natural stone steps beneath the cave entrance without pain, and slips off into the jungle. We see all three Marshalls quietly follow the limping hominid into the night. In the jungle, Cha-Ka encounters Grumpy, who apparently is nocturnal and likes to silently stare at plants while dreaming of meat. Cha-Ka backs away slowly and the Marshalls catch him. They discover that he has taken the lighter. His two hominid companions come down from an overhead branch and threaten the Marshalls, assuming that they have taken Cha-ka against his will. Rick Marshall frightens them away with the awesome power of the tiny flame from his lighter.

Grumpy then smells them, remembers that he is a carnivore, and comes to eat them all. They scatter. The Marshalls lead him away from the hominids all the way back to their cave, but as he approaches the cave mouth he quickly gives up, apparently remembering the lesson of the "flyswatter." So the Marshalls don't have to use the second long stick they have prepared in their free time.

Holly is disappointed that Cha-Ka does not seem to be their friend. The apparent moral of the episode then arrives with a thud: "it takes a lot of trust to make a friend."

In the morning in the cave, Will discovers that Cha-Ka has left them a feast of giant fruits, and "wants to be friends with us after all." Cha-Ka watches them from the brush, and disappears back into the jungle as the Marshalls begin eating, and a quick cut to the jungle reminds us that Grumpy is still eagerly waiting the chance to devour the Marshalls.



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