“Deep in the heart of the Amazon, the Butler family was exploring an uncharted river canyon. Suddenly caught up in a violent whirlpool, they were propelled through an underground cavern and flung into a hostile world of prehistoric creatures, a world that time forgot. Now, befriended by a family of cave dwellers, each day is an adventure in survival for the Butlers in The Valley Of The Dinosaurs”.
If you were a child in the 1970’s, you’ll remember that there was no time like Saturday morning. It was a race to be the first kid up, if you had siblings. I had to be the first to the new cereal box to root out the prize. After a big bowl of sugar it was time to plant yourself in front of the television until about noon, when the news programs took over. For those handful of hours, however, a kid could be transported into the ultimate fantasy world. There were superheroes and lost worlds to explore. One such show was The Valley Of The Dinosaurs.
The Butler family consisted of Dad/John Butler who was voiced by Mike Road, who was better known for his work on Johnny Quest. He was a high school teacher and was the show’s version of The Professor. He could make radios, planes, and drilling platforms from scratch. Mom/Kim Butler was voiced by Shannon Farnon, who also voiced Wonder Woman on the various productions of The Super Friends. Son Greg Butler was voiced by none other than The Watchmen’s own Jackie Earl e Haley as a young boy. It was one of his first gigs. Daughter/Katie Butler was voiced by Kathy Gori who played Laurie Partridge on the animated version of that musical family The Partridge Family 2200 A.D. Alan Oppenheimer is still doing voice work almost 40 years later, most recently Alfred on a Batman cartoon. He played the cave dweller Gorak. Joan Gardner voiced his wife Gara. She’s been in a ton of holiday cartoons like Santa Clause Is Coming To Town, The First Easter Rabbit, Here Comes Peter Cottontail and The City That Forgot About Christmas. If the family dog Digger sounded and even looked a little familiar, that’s because he was voiced by Scooby-Doo himself Frank Welker. Welker also played the cave dweller son Lok and the family’s pet baby stegosaurus Glump. The young cave dweller Tana was voiced by Melanie Baker, who is now a movie producer behind such SyFy style films as Arachnia and Ice Queen.
Each episode would feature plenty of dinosaurs that would often chase or trap the Butlers and their benefactors. Often the Butlers would have an idea that went against the local tribal laws or traditions. They would ignore the warnings, and most of the time it would get them in trouble. Dad was a know-it-all who needed to be brought down a peg or two. Son Greg was always looking for ways to avoid work and was often paired with Tana and the two family pets. It appears that Katie and Lok had a bit of a crush on each other, but this was a kids’ show and it never really went anywhere beyond flirtation. The family never made it home during the 16 episodes. There wasn’t even a pilot to show how it all started. Instead, the opening narrative told that story briefly.
The cartoon series only lasted one year in 1974. The show was obviously intended to ride the wave of prehistoric frenzy that was running hot in the mid 1970’s. Unfortunately for the series, they weren’t the only ones to come up with the idea. Over at NBC a show that was strikingly similar was beginning on the same day and at the same time. That show, of course, was The Land Of The Lost. It was a live-action series that featured the same concept. A family on a raft falls into a prehistoric world. This one had cool reptilian people as bad guys and won the ratings competition. But The Valley Of The Dinosaurs was a fine little show that deserved more than its 16-episode single-season run.
That’s where Warner enters the picture and has brought this show back from extinction in their classic collection library. It’s another example of the studio’s commitment to finding ways to bring limited-interest titles to your homes. It’s great nostalgic fun, to be sure. Show your support by picking up titles like this that you might remember from your own childhood. Even in a limited release, the studios need to see sales to continue these programs. So, “Stand up and be counted, trooper”.
Check out the release from Warner Direct. Bang it here to get a closer look at: The Valley Of The Dinosaurs