However, what occurs next in "Dopey" serves as the introduction of one the series' recurring dinosaur characters (and we've already met Spike, Grumpy, Spot and Big Alice.) Holly and Will spot a cracked-open brontosaurus egg and then meet a newly hatched brontosaur baby, which Holly promptly names Dopey. The kindly dinosaur (which mewls like a kitten) follows the duo home and Holly predictably asks Dad, "Can we keep him?" Marshall's smart response is that "a 5,000 lb. dinosaur stays where ever he wants." Now that's practical parenting!
Holly teaches Grumpy to fetch a stick, kind of. The dinosaur retrieves the stick, and then eat its. Then Holly rides Dopey like a horse and trains him to pull the cart. However, when Grumpy attacks High Bluff and nearly gets his sharp teeth on Dopey (who hides...), Holly realizes that her desire to own a pet could endanger Dopey's life. "We'll have to find a good home for him...a place where he'd be safe," Marshall recommends - and with great difficulty, Holly returns Dopey to the swamp, where he can be with his own kind, including the adult Brontosaurus, Emily. The episode ends with the brontosaurs nuzzling.
Back a few years ago, when I interviewed some of the cast and crew of Land of the Lost, I learned that the series had an interesting template: the stories were separated into three categories. There would be Cha-Ka stories, Sleestak stories and dinosaur stories, and these three types would rotate over the weeks so that each consisted of one third of the series. Naturally, "Dopey" is a dinosaur episode, and one that requires more special effects than some (cue the chroma key!). Dopey is depicted both in miniature stop-motion form, and with an on-set mechanical head that doesn't look quite so convincing, though he does have nice, affectionate moon-eyes.
Thematically, like the other stories featured thus far, Land of the Lost's "Dopey" features a lesson for the kiddies about responsibility and taking care of pets. It's about doing what's right for the animal, not for the master's comfort.
So essentially, this is the "be nice to stray animals" episode, and it's a message I wholeheartedly approve of, since there are about six outdoor cats in my neighborhood that I like to feed and care for. I try to keep them close to my house so they won't cross the street. We live on a busy road, and I live in mortal fear that one of the cats is going to get struck by a car, so I attempt to keep them on my side. One of my neighbors, a sweet person, has had several of them spayed, to keep the population of wild kitties from growing. Anyway, "Dopey" struck a chord with me somewhere. I know that if someone offered one of these neighborhood cats a better, safer home, it would be a very good thing - even though I'd miss them terribly. Unfortunately, I don't live near any brontosaur swamps...
The Gilligan's Island principle of this Land of the Lost episode (meaning the incredible instruments, devices and tools built with primitive measures...) reveals the Marshalls eating dinner out of giant carved bowls. They look to have been made from giant shells of some type. And then there's that wagon, which must have taken weeks to construct. But then again, what else is there to do in the Land of the Lost?
Another nice scene in the episode finds Will and Holly reminiscing about home, and a backyard strawberry patch. This is the first explicit mention of what it was like where they used to live, and they discuss making homemade ice cream. When the Marshall children started asking each other if they'd ever escape the Land of the Lost, I realized that I hoped they wouldn't, because I enjoy the series so much. Sorry, kids...