A two-part adventure miniseries set in 1911, A&E Network's The Lost World deftly borrows elements from the Indiana Jones epics, Jurassic Park, Journey to the Center of the Earth and One Million B.C.
A co-production of A&E, the British Broadcasting Corp. and RTL Television, Lost World
owes a great deal of its success to the realistic pterosaurs, allosaurs and other dinosaurs created by Tim Haines and his computer-graphics team from Discovery Channel's Walking With Dinosaurs .
Haines co-produced Lost World
with Christopher Hall.
Bob Hoskins brings much to this project as Professor Challenger, a maverick explorer whose return expedition to "the land of the pterosaurs," in an uncharted area of the Amazon jungle, attracts a motley crew of volunteers. They include the womanizing adventurer Lord Roxton (Tom Ward), the stuffy Professor Summerlee (James Fox) and the young newspaper reporter Edward (Matthew Rhys). New Zealand is cast as the Amazon jungle.
Stuart Orme directed ably from a screenplay by Tony Mulholland and Adrian Hodges, who have tinkered a bit with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel.
For instance, they've added Rev. Kerr, a religious fanatic (Peter Falk) — to get into Darwinism a bit — and the missionary's niece, Agnes (Elaine Cassidy) — to add some romantic spark to the expedition. The ending has also been altered.
Kerr's fanaticism traps the explorers in the world that "belongs to the devil," in his view.
Nearly an hour of setting up the expedition and its characters passes before we see the first dinosaurs, both herbivores, followed later by pterosaurs and a tyrannosaurus rex.
Toward the end of part one, there's a gruesome scene in which apemen cannibalize a native tribesman. Roxton and some natives rescue the professors from a similar fate, but the uneasy alliance between the Indians and the explorers collapses in the finale, forcing their escape.
Back in London, Challenger releases a young pterosaur in a lecture hall as proof of the lost world. But amid attendees'King Kong
-like talk of bringing dinosaurs back alive, Edward persuades Challenger to say he was lying and thus protects the animals from becoming "freaks in a sideshow."
The ending hints at a sequel, with Challenger off in search of Atlantis. (Conan Doyle did feature that character in four other stories.)
A&E airs The Lost World
at 8 p.m. on Oct. 6 and 7.