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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Land of the Lost: The Gladiators "The Gladiators"
Written by Reed Shelly
Directed by Jeff Burr
Original airdate: October
3, 1992

Using the power crystal, Shung takes control of the minds of Christa and the Porters, forcing them to battle in a gladiatorial arena.

Didja Know?

This is the first time we see the Sleestak in the second season and the Nim and Keeg costumes have undergone some upgrades. The head masks are now articulated so that the eyelids and lips move. Previously, only the Shung costume had this ability. Also, the nerdy voices of Nim and Keeg in the first season have been dropped in favor of a deeper, more menacing tone. The two lackeys are also played by two new actors! During the first season R.C. Tass played Nim and Brian Williams played Keeg. This season Ross Kramer plays Nim and Bret Davidson plays Keeg.

Didja Notice?

Princess is a pretty tough Triceratops. Not only did she survive whatever battle in the past caused her to break off one horn, here she topples Spike onto his side when Shung uses his crystal to force them to fight.

When Christa becomes entranced by Shung through the power of the crystal, she again makes a sort of open-mouthed hiss, like she did under the same circumstance in "Mind Games".

At 5:20 in the episode, we see that Annie has painted Tasha's gigantic toenails, apparently having used two bottles of nail polish to do it! Would a young girl really want to waste her limited supply of cosmetics like that, even for a beloved pet? It's not like the Land of the Lost has a corner drug store.

This is the first time we hear the age of one of the characters. Tom comments that Kevin is 16.

Shung says that when he still lived in the Sleestak underground civilization, there were huge arenas where gladiators fought until only one was left. Assuming he is talking about fights to the death, it sounds like the Sleestak civilization did not have particularly altruistic values! I wonder what Shung and his lackeys did to be considered criminals and exiled to the surface? Or, perhaps, Shung was simply part of a criminal enclave that engaged in illegal gladiatorial combats by unwilling participants.

Shung's crudely constructed arena has a number of banners, flags and shields hung about, depicting Sleestak faces and symbols in a fairly artful manner. Where did these come from? Did the three Sleestak criminals make them? Or did they bring them from the underground civilization when they were exiled? Or, perhaps, they were found among remains of the old surface civilization (though it seems unlikely much would survive to the current time considering Tom said in "Dreammaker" that the old civilization existed hundreds of years ago)?

This episode is the first we hear the Sleestak refer to Kevin as Quickmouth.

At 11:30 in the episode, Stink is taking a nap in the branches of a tree and we hear him mumble "Opah" in his sleep! Opah, of course, is Stink's grandfather, as seen in the episode "Opah".

At 14:43 in the episode, during the battle between Kevin and Nim, we see Shung give the thumbs down signal, which popular culture suggests was the signal given, by the person in charge in the ancient Roman arenas, to the victor to kill their defeated foe. However, when Kevin suddenly turns the tables on Nim and defeats him, Shung does not repeat the gesture (of course).

Although they look very similar, it is possible to identify Nim and Keeg by their faces and clothing. Keeg has a shorter snout and less prominent brows than Nim and a droopy right eyelid (although the droopy eyelid seems to be less prominent this season); and Keeg's tunic has flared shoulder pads while Nim's are rounded. During the gladiatorial combat, Kevin appears to be battling Nim. But the boy comments that his Sleestak opponent has weak side-vision, which sounds more like a description of Keeg with his droopy right eye. It seems there may be a discrepancy in the script as written and as shot.

At 16:18 in the episode, Tasha's toenails are suddenly no longer painted. Later, Annie comments that all the trampling through the jungle ruined the pedicure.

At 18:07 in the episode, we see that one of the items decorating the boundary posts of Shung's arena is a saber-tooth tiger skull. Up to now the only prehistoric mammals we've seen in the Land were the wolves called makani in "Something's Watching".

It's interesting that Annie is the one to ask Christa what she is going to do with the crystal dagger she has taken from Shung. Annie must be remembering how the crystal infected her own self with its malevolence when it came into her possession in "The Crystal".

Annie says she'll fix Tasha's pedicure. You mean she has even more nail polish to waste on the little dino?!

Pakuni translations
Time in episode Pakuni English
1:27 Christa says "banda" Christa has just caught an iguana when nearby sounds of battle force her to let it go and she says, "Your lucky day, banda." Presumably banda=iguana.
2:13 Christa says, "Pakaa! Princess, pakaa! Anu, Princess. Subani." anu=no, the other words are unknown. From the context it would seem Christa is trying to tell Princess, "calm down" or "it's me."
7:41 Stink says, "Kobani, Tom Porter." "Kobani" is unknown. From the context of the scene, it may mean "I'm sorry."
11:46 Stink says, "Anu!" "No!"
18:27 Stink says, "Malu!" "Bad!"
18:30 Stink says, "Stay akira." "Stay over here." Like many bi-lingual humans, Stink seems to be mixing words from both languages in his speech.
20:24 Christa says, "Crystal maka malu." "Crystal knife evil." Christa is also mixing her languages.
21:59 Stink says, "Anu!" "No!"

Unanswered Questions

In "Mind Games", Shung needed a personal possession of Christa's (her peace medallion) in order to take mental control of her. But here he is able to control her without one, as well as being able to control Tom and Kevin in the same manner. How? Has he or his crystal grown more powerful?

When Christa shatters the crystal dagger with a rock, the fragments then seem to dissolve into crystal dust. Would that be true of any power crystal found in the Land? Or are the properties of Shung's crystal unique? (Though the giant crystal in "Kevin vs. the Volcano" also dissolved.)

Memorable Dialog

cornered by a Sleestak.wav
what's so funny.wav
being 16.wav
warm memories.wav
beg for mercy.wav
big pain in butt.wav
don't have cow.wav
look for his weakness.wav
any last words.wav
beautiful toes.wav

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