Lost in Space

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See also Lost in Space (disambiguation)

Lost in Space is a science fiction TV series produced between 1965 and 1968 by television producer Irwin Allen.

Allen based his space adventure series on a Gold Key comic book, Space Family Robinson, as well as the classic adventure novel Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss.

Contents

History

The show initially experienced some legal challenges. Ib Melchior, a notable science fiction writer, had conceived what was essentially the same idea (a modernization of Johann Wyss' Swiss Family Robinson but with different characters) years before either the television series or the comic book. He had called his version "Space Family Robinson", which was also the original production name for Lost in Space. Although legal action went nowhere, Ib Melchior was hired as a consultant on the "Lost in Space" movie as a way of recognizing his original idea.

Lost in Space followed Allen's basic philosophy that TV was supposed to be fun, as opposed to educational. His series, including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants, were all very fast paced and exciting, often at the expense of logic.

The series ran for three seasons on CBS, from 1965 to 1968 and it was famously bought by the network after they rejected a competing sci-fi series that was offered to them — Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek.

The first season was filmed in black & white and was more serious in tone when compared to the two seasons that followed. It chronicled the adventures of the Robinson family, a group of Earth pioneers whose mission to colonize Alpha Centauri almost ends in disaster after a saboteur attempts to destroy their space ship.

The second and third seasons were produced in color, and were more whimsical and fantastic in tone.

Characters

  • Doctor Maureen Robinson (June Lockhart) is John's wife, and a trained biochemist. She is the mother of their children, Judy, Penny and Will.
  • Major Don West (Mark Goddard) is the pilot of the expedition's spacecraft, the Jupiter 2. Don is romantically interested in Judy, and inherently distrustful of Dr Smith.
  • Judy Robinson (Marta Kristen), Penny Robinson (Angela Cartwright) and Will Robinson (Bill Mumy) are the three children in the expedition. Of the three, Will is the most noteworthy - he is the youngest, brightest and a particular friend of Dr Smith and the Robot.
  • Doctor Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), ostensibly the mission' s doctor of environmental psychology (but in fact an enemy agent) is in charge of preparing the Robinson party. His attempt to sabotage the mission saw him stranded aboard as a "reluctant stowaway", from which the pilot episode takes its title.
  • The Robot, a Model B-9 environmental-control robot. In at least two episodes it was shown in its packing case as a General Utility Non THeorizing Environmental Robot (Gunther), and on various occasions the Robot referred to itself as such. The Robot was performed by Bob May in a special stunt prop costume, with voiceover by Dick Tufeld.

The Robot has inspired a dedicated fan base, many striving to build their own: B9 Robot Builders Club (http://www.b9rbc.com)

The first, unaired pilot did not include the character of Doctor Zachary Smith, nor the Robot.

Since the series, hobbyists around the world have built at least 15 detailed replicas of the Robot, although the original outfit still exists in deteriorated condition.

Analysis

The general public now most recognizes Lost In Space via the memorable, oft-repeated warning lines of the Robot, "Warning! Warning!" and, of course, "Danger, Will Robinson!".

Although it retains a cult following, the science-fiction community often points to Lost In Space as an example of TV's bad record at producing science-fiction (perhaps overlooking the series' deliberate fantasy elements), comparing it unfavorably to its supposed rival, Star Trek. Ironically, Lost In Space was a ratings success -- unlike Star Trek, which received poor ratings during its original network TV run.

Lost In Space starred several well-known actors. Guy Williams was already a major TV star and had played the lead role in the successful series Zorro; June Lockhart was a well-known actress and had appeared in numerous films since the 1940s, including Sergeant York, Meet Me in St. Louis and The Yearling; she was also well-known to American TV audiences for her role in the Lassie TV series. Angela Cartwright had recently played one of the Von Trapp children in the classic film musical The Sound Of Music and Billy Mumy was one of America's best-known child actors. He was a TV regular by age six and prior to Lost In Space he had already appeared in at least six feature films and had many notable TV credits including Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone, where he starred in the classic episode "It's A Good Life", playing a child who suddenly develops terrifying psychokinetic powers. As an adult he appeared in the Babylon 5 TV series.

Criticisms of the series have targeted its supposed technical implausibility. Unlike Star Trek where great care was taken to create a detailed and--to its most devoted fans, at least--believable world of future technology, Lost In Space typically paid far less attention to such matters. For example, whereas the Enterprise is a huge, aircraft carrier-sized starship with a crew of several hundred, the Jupiter 2 is evidently only about the size of a small family home, and yet is capable of transporting a crew of six and all the requisite supplies across interstellar space to establish a colony on another planet.

The series has also been criticized because of the notion that the Robinsons and their pilot would tolerate the presence of an unrepentant backstabber such as Doctor Smith, who repeatedly attempts to betray or undermine them for his benefit. Although Smith is often chastised and even banished at times, the Robinsons always, sooner or later, take him back.

Many viewers found the show quite beautiful, with full-colour special effects and spacescapes courtesy of the astronomical community. Like all Allen's productions, stylistically, the series was of high quality, featuring eye-catching silver, tapered space-suits, laser guns and a number of spectacular props and sets, including the control cabin of the Jupiter 2. In some episodes, the Robinsons traveled in a full-scale tracked exploration vehicle, and the characters also on occasion used what was then an exciting new invention, the jet pack. The Jupiter 2 was evidently modeled somewhat on the spaceship C-57D from the classic '50s sci-fi film Forbidden Planet and it included several recognisable props which had been recycled from Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (and which cropped up in several later Irwin Allen series as well).

Although the series' first season took a fairly serious approach, many of the show's second- and third-year episodes were quite juvenile, with stories about space cowboys, space hippies, space pirates, space beauty pageants, and, of course, the infamous episode "The Great Vegetable Rebellion", featuring one of the few intelligent space carrots in cinematic history (two of the show's stars did not appear in the following episode, as punishment for being unable to keep from laughing during the filming of what they saw as a travesty). The show's shift in tone may have been due to the fact that it was in direct ratings competition at the time with the ultra-campy Batman TV series. (It should be noted that the venerable Star Trek had its own share of space hippies, pirates, and cowboys.)

Music

The theme music for the opening credits during the show's three seasons was written by John Williams. Movie triviasts have said that echoes of this musical score can be heard in Williams' soundtrack to the movie Jurassic Park.

The musical theme in the first two seasons was a bit "cartoony" matching the opening credit sequence.

In year three, the opening theme was changed (again by Williams) to an exciting faster tempo action theme and featured a pumped-up countdown from seven to one to launch each episode.

John Williams (then known as Johnny Williams) also composed many of the much-praised background scores for the series, which have been released on CD. He also wrote themes and musical scores for Irwin Allens's The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants.

Spin-offs

A Saturday morning animated special one-shot version of Lost in Space was broadcast sometime in the 1970s. Dr. Smith was about the only character used, while the Robot could be recognized, although employed in flight control rather than a support activity. The spacecraft was launched vertically by rocket, and Smith was not a saboteur for getting lost.

Series actor Bill Mumy has remained active in show business and comics. For several years he scripted an authorized Lost in Space comic book for Innovation Comics. The intention was that the comic reflect the more serious tone of the first season episodes, but this was somewhat undercut by artwork that sexualized Judy and Penny, prompting some exasperated notes from Mumy in the editorial pages. The comic also established a romantic triangle between Judy, Penny (now depicted as someone in her late teens), and Don that was not present in the original series. Innovation was unable to sustain the comic beyond a handful of issues.

Jonathan Harris portrayed Professor Jones in the animated series Freakazoid. The name, the voice, and the lines he was given were obvious riffs on Dr. Smith role.

In 1998, New Line Cinema produced a feature movie adaptation, starring William Hurt as Professor John Robinson, Mimi Rogers as Dr Maureen Robinson, Heather Graham as Judy Robinson, Matt LeBlanc as Major Don West, Gary Oldman as Dr. Smith and Lacey Chabert as Penny Robinson, and once again Dick Tufeld as The Robot's voice. Angela Cartwright, June Lockhart, Marta Kristen, and Mark Goddard from the original series all had cameos (Lockhart and Goddard interacting with their successors), but Jonathan Harris refused to participate. Bill Mumy was at one point considered for a key role in the film (one that would have allowed him to interact with the new Will Robinson), but another actor was cast instead. (Guy Williams had died some years earlier.)

Lavish special effects were incorporated, and the story was similar to the more dramatic first episodes of the TV series. While marginally successful, audience reaction was mixed and box office results were insufficient to justify a planned sequel. A short-lived series of original novels did follow, however.

The new Jupiter II was launched from Houston in a launch shell, called the Jupiter I, that is an obvious homage to the series spacecraft, complete with rotating propulsion lights. Even with the careful planning that created a spacecraft capable of containing the (rather roomy) interior shown, the creators overlooked the notion that all the room inside this spacecraft should have been filled to capacity with hardware to build a hypergate to match the one nearly complete over Earth (and seen in the opening scenes).

In late 2003, a new TV series, with a somewhat changed format, was in development in the USA. It was intended to be originally closer to the original pilot with no Doctor Smith, but including the robot. A pilot was commissioned by the WB network, produced by Twentieth Century Fox TV and Regency Television, and screened to executives in May of 2004.

The pilot script featured the characters of John and Maureen, but an elder son, David, was scripted, as well as Judy, Penny and Will. There was no Doctor Smith character, but the character of Don West was described as a "dangerous, lone wolf type".

The confirmed cast included Brad Johnson as John Robinson, Jayne Brook as Maureen Robinson, Adrianne Palicki as Judy Robinson, Ryan Malgarini as Will Robinson and Mike Erwin as Don West.

It was not among the network's series pick-ups confirmed later that year.

Episodes of all 3 seasons of the original TV series have been released on DVD in North America.

Episodes

  • 1.0 NO PLACE TO HIDE (PILOT)

First season

  • 1.01 THE RELUCTANT STOWAWAY
  • 1.02 THE DERELICT
  • 1.03 ISLAND IN THE SKY
  • 1.04 THERE WERE GIANTS IN THE EARTH
  • 1.05 THE HUNGRY SEA
  • 1.06 WELCOME STRANGER
  • 1.07 MY FRIEND, MR. NOBODY
  • 1.08 INVADERS FROM THE FIFTH DIMENSION
  • 1.09 THE OASIS
  • 1.10 THE SKY IS FALLING
  • 1.11 WISH UPON A STAR
  • 1.12 THE RAFT
  • 1.13 ONE OF OUR DOGS IS MISSING
  • 1.14 ATTACK OF THE MONSTER PLANTS
  • 1.15 RETURN FROM OUTER SPACE
  • 1.16 THE KEEPER (Part 1)
  • 1.17 THE KEEPER (Part 2)
  • 1.18 THE SKY PIRATE
  • 1.19 GHOST IN SPACE
  • 1.20 THE WAR OF THE ROBOTS
  • 1.21 THE MAGIC MIRROR
  • 1.22 THE CHALLENGE
  • 1.23 THE SPACE TRADER
  • 1.24 HIS MAJESTY SMITH
  • 1.25 THE SPACE CROPPERS
  • 1.26 ALL THAT GLITTERS
  • 1.27 THE LOST CIVILIZATION
  • 1.28 A CHANGE OF SPACE
  • 1.29 FOLLOW THE LEADER

Second season

  • 2.01 BLAST OFF INTO SPACE
  • 2.02 WILD ADVENTURE
  • 2.03 THE GHOST PLANET
  • 2.04 THE FORBIDDEN WORLD
  • 2.05 SPACE CIRCUS
  • 2.06 THE PRISONERS OF SPACE
  • 2.07 THE ANDROID MACHINE
  • 2.08 THE DEADLY GAMES OF GAMMA 6
  • 2.09 THE THIEF FROM OUTER SPACE
  • 2.10 CURSE OF COUSIN SMITH
  • 2.11 WEST OF MARS
  • 2.12 A VISIT TO HADES
  • 2.13 THE WRECK OF THE ROBOT
  • 2.14 THE DREAM MONSTER
  • 2.15 THE GOLDEN MAN
  • 2.16 THE GIRL FROM THE GREEN DIMENSION
  • 2.17 THE QUESTING BEAST
  • 2.18 THE TOYMAKER
  • 2.19 MUTINY IN SPACE
  • 2.20 THE SPACE VIKINGS
  • 2.21 ROCKET TO EARTH
  • 2.22 WIZARDS
  • 2.23 TREASURE OF THE LOST PLANET
  • 2.24 REVOLT OF THE ANDROIDS
  • 2.25 THE COLONISTS
  • 2.26 TRIP THROUGH THE ROBOT
  • 2.27 THE PHANTOM FAMILY
  • 2.28 THE MECHANICAL MEN
  • 2.29 THE ASTRAL TRAVELER
  • 2.30 THE GALAXY GIFT

Third season

  • 3.01 CONDEMNED OF SPACE
  • 3.02 VISIT TO A HOSTILE PLANET
  • 3.03 KIDNAPPED IN SPACE
  • 3.04 HUNTER'S MOON
  • 3.05 THE SPACE PRIMEVALS
  • 3.06 THE SPACE DESTRUCTORS
  • 3.07 THE HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSE
  • 3.08 FLIGHT INTO THE FUTURE
  • 3.09 COLLISION OF THE PLANETS
  • 3.10 THE SPACE CREATURE
  • 3.11 DEADLIEST OF THE SPECIES
  • 3.12 A DAY AT THE ZOO
  • 3.13 TWO WEEKS IN SPACE
  • 3.14 CASTLES IN SPACE
  • 3.15 ANTI-MATTER MAN
  • 3.16 TARGET: EARTH
  • 3.17 PRINCESS OF SPACE
  • 3.18 THE TIME MERCHANT
  • 3.19 THE PROMISED PLANET
  • 3.20 FUGITIVES IN SPACE
  • 3.21 SPACE BEAUTY
  • 3.22 THE FLAMING PLANET
  • 3.23 THE GREAT VEGETABLE REBELLION
  • 3.24 JUNKYARD OF SPACE

External links

de:Lost in Space

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