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SALVAGING LOST IN SPACE
LOST IN SPACE: SALVAGING SPACE
With this article I will attempt to uncover the best of the later LOST IN SPACE episodes and go into how the worst of the LOST IN SPACE episodes may have had moments of greatness and how these terrible episodes could have been made much better. Regardless of my very opinionated thoughts, LOST IN SPACE remains one of the two of my favorite series and the concept is probably my favorite. It is in fact, the concept of the series that is better than just about all of the individual episodes, including the first season. The first season is touted as being so much better than the last two and in many ways, it is. It is much more serious, however in the late 80's and early 1990, a series of cheaply made books from John Peel came out and made me realize this is not true. It is easy to dismiss these books but one fact remains: John Peel (who is NOT a fan of the series no matter what he says) pointed out some glaring scientific errors in almost every episode. This began early on--the second episode THE DERELICT, a very good one, related how a comet is threatening the Jupiter due to HEAT. Well, a comet is not heat, it is ice! These errors persisted throughout the first year and episodes such as THE HUNGRY SEA, THE OASIS (a wrong spot given for the pituitary gland and Smith's clothes growing and shrinking with him), ATTACK OF THE MONSTER PLANTS (plants freezing at 44 degrees and Duetronium in a pellet form), RETURN FROM OUTER SPACE (carbon tetrachloride is really poisonous and in this one it is used to preserve food and as usual, the distances in space given are too small an amount--ten light years indeed!), GHOST IN SPACE (how the creature is made---perhaps the thing was already in the planet's pit and just was turned invisible by it, not created), and A CHANGE OF SPACE (cosmic dust accumulated like snow in pits) contain very bad scientific inaccuracies. These are well documented in John Peel's FILES magazines and are very hard to ignore.
WELCOME STRANGER-good one with lots of character conflict but where was Hapgood going and why was he near where the Robinsons were. How did he survive? It all seemed a bit implausible but this story was a very serious one and worth avoiding the mistakes.
THE OASIS-Despite the very bad science and awful effects (hey, this is NOT LAND OF THE GIANTS) in this one, I find it very entertaining. Why? This episode disproves the fact that the series had little characterization. Despite all the information left out of the first episode that is contained in the unaired pilots, here, we are given insight into the Robinsons' feelings. Yes, Don hates Smith but with prodding from Will and John, he admits he hopes to find him alive. Judy and Maureen's discussion of Smith when he was missing was very heartwarming as was Penny and Will's worry--and Will telling her that he knows Smith does wrong things--including getting the Robot to do bad things. And Penny's prayer to the sky while tucking Debbie in is truly a masterpiece of film. Smith, here, was truly a complicated person, not just a boring villain, but a human being, with faults and frailties---and for that, he seemed very menacing while the fruit acted on his system, threatening the Robinsons in many different ways. I also like how Judy sticks up for Smith more than once--and is knocked down by John. Judy also sticks up for him in future episodes--ATTACK OF THE MONSTER PLANTS and the awful MUTINY IN SPACE in season two. Judy and Smith, at the end of OASIS share a nice scene together which is in the cliffhanger and is repeated in THE SKY IS FALLING, an above average episode. OASIS also continued the heat wave factor established in THE HUNGRY SEA and also contains the ideas of food and water shortages, not really picked up on in many other episodes with some exceptions (RETURN FROM OUTER SPACE, SPACE CIRCUS and JUNKYARD OF SPACE). Although a flawed sequence technically, the earthquake--avalanche sequence is exciting. This episode marked the last of John's files...uh, logs although in ONE OF OUR DOGS IS MISSING details a flashback to a log not seen or heard. Judy and Maureen are examining John's log to find out about the creature they are encountering in that episode. OASIS is truly flawed in many way, but it is one of the most watchable episodes and a good part of LOST IN SPACE. Could it have been better? Yes.
THE RAFT-How come John and Don, or for that matter, the Robot or Will, didn't realize that the gravity of the planet wouldn't allow their little space raft to leave the planet? I like the Will-Smith scenes where Smith contemplates being like a father to Will. Their relationship was good and it is easy to see why it would overpower the others in time. How come Will had access to the fuel without John and Don knowing about it? How did the forcefield get turned on before the project exploded over John, Penny, and Will and was it on all along? If so, how did the space bottle message get out? A good one nevertheless.
ONE OF OUR DOGS IS MISSING-As a young child, I enjoyed this one a great deal. It had a scary monster with some very scary ways of filming it especially at the beginning. Once we see too much of it, the mystery and horror of it are gone. I also, back then, liked the action and the fact that Judy and Maureen were featured so prominently. Splitting up the cast for a couple of shows worked well and is a nice idea--one which would be repeated in the second and third seasons for a few episodes. However, let us look at how inept Judy and Maureen are this one: Maureen cannot put the guns back together, she and Judy forget to recharge the forcefield, forget to keep the ship locked up when away from it, and Maureen needs the men back to feel better and safe but when they do return and hunt for Judy, Maureen doesn't see Smith, Will, and The Robot go outside also ("I've made a fine mess of things," she says). Also, Judy faints and goes outside when they know there is a dangerous beast around--and she doesn't take a gun with her. The women may have had an increased role but their role was that of being so totally incapable. Not a good message. The action is fairly well done though.
RETURN FROM OUTER SPACE-This story was really very sentimental and there is nothing wrong with that. Other than the carbon tetrachloride nonsense, the other problem with this is the 1950s type town---yes, there are some places like that in America still but that backward? It might have been better if they used the same set and let us know that Will actually went back in time or if they spruced up the town set a lot more. Still, the script, other than a few minor problems---no saw the space family take off?---was okay. The acting was quite good in this one from all involved.
GHOST IN SPACE-this one began a lot of the Smith nonsense that went on later all the time. With some work, this episode could have been much tighter and much more scary. It certainly was scary when one was a child and saw it. A bit more science would have helped or even a bit more supernatural explanations rather than the stupid ones given by John (see above).
WAR OF THE ROBOTS-Why couldn't the aliens have returned? Didn't they know where the planet was or did they leave so long ago, they forgot? Either way, this plot point is really lame. Why did they need the Robotoid to signal them to arrive on the planet?
HIS MAJESTY SMITH-This one gives us some rather good characterization, keeping in line with what we saw in THE OASIS. John tells the double of Smith--Daddy Zac that not only was the real Smith here first, but despite all his faults, it is he, Dr. Zachary Smith that is their friend and they don't want to lose him. Some may think the family foolish for this, John, a terrible leader in particular but I feel it makes the family even more likeable, warm, tender, and fallible.
THE SPACE CROPPERS-Often overlooked as the episode that really showed how bad LOST IN SPACE could be and would be in the future. I cannot put my finger on what is so awful about this one...maybe the fact that the aliens are never really fully explored...that they travel in an open spaceship...that they look and act like hill billies of the South...and like witches...the guest stars are capable enough and it is nice to see Judy jealous over Don being given so much attention from another female. And the werewolf was menacing enough...but it could have been darker lit--to give it more menace than it had. In the light, it is really too well combed to be a real werewolf....and the human Keel acts a bit too dumb. We do get to see the two moons of the planet. Smith acts the dumbest here than in all the previous episodes put together...something of a record which he will beat hands down in the second season. The first truly silly one.
FIRST SEASON GEMS: the first eight episodes, THE OASIS (for the character stuff only), THE SKY IS FALLING, WISH UPON A STAR, ATTACK OF THE MONSTER PLANTS (if one can overlook the freezing mess up--freezing is freezing no matter what and it has to freeze the plants at the same temp as Judy would be frozen), THE KEEPER, THE SKY PIRATE (if a bit annoying with all the pirate kid stuff), THE MAGIC MIRROR (somewhat about Penny's growing up), THE SPACE TRADER (not too bad but not great--Torin Thatcher made this one very good), HIS MAJESTY SMITH, ALL THAT GLITTERS, THE LOST CIVILIZATION, A CHANGE OF SPACE, and FOLLOW THE LEADER. Not perfect but very, very well done in so many ways. Again, scientific inaccuracies probably abound in almost every one but these are the most entertaining ones from Season One in my opinion.
BLAST OFF INTO SPACE-This one was rather enjoyable. It was the vivid color (I still think they made a major mistake to film the first season of LOST in black and white) that added life. Seeing this one after all the black and white ones gave the series a new life. The earthquake stuff was exciting, added to a rather excellent new score, although on hindsight, the quakes could have lasted longer and been more dangerous. Smith isn't too silly here but then we have what becomes the biggest problem for LOST IN SPACE---the silly, over the top aliens that would pop in and pop out (sometimes literally). Mr. Nerium may have been a fun character but as an alien, he seems more like an old Earth miner with a mule no less. He is very menacing in the opening teaser and just after but after that, he is just a hokey self centered man with no real menace to him at all. As an alien he not believable--why is he so Earth like? Yet, he is obviously some kind of alien. He shares no scenes with anyone other than Will, Smith, and the Robot. The entire episode is saved by the wonderful fight of the Jupiter to pull away from the exploding planet without the thruster control Smith donated to Mr. Nerium, who was lying to Smith all along. Not bad, but could have been great.
WILD ADVENTURE-Despite some weird science (why couldn't the Jupiter maneuver around the sun? Why couldn't John and Don figure out Earth's position if they already knew where the Earth's sun would be? Why couldn't they get Smith back in and get to Earth? If they didn't have enough rocket fuel to make a second course change for Earth---when they have just passed its sun---how did they have enough fuel to last shooting out the other side of the galaxy again?) and despite one of the most embarrassing aliens ever, this one is refreshing in that it takes place entirely in outer space. And it is nice to see some more friction between the family and Smith, notably Penny and Smith, John and Smith, and Don and Smith. I also like how the humanity of Maureen and to a lesser extent Judy (who by now has such a small part in all the proceedings as to not even be noticed) comes out when they insist Smith should be saved, even though as Don points out, "From the beginning he's caused us nothing but trouble." Don's humanity is also shown as he pulls Smith in from outer space and the ridiculous green girl alien. When Smith makes one of us superior intellect remarks about himself, Don even laughs, accepting Smith for once (this despite the fact that Smith badgered him and John through most of this). BLAST OFF INTO SPACE and this episode and to a lesser extent THE GHOST PLANET featured an integral subplot: that of the family and Don voting to find Alpha Centuari versus Smith wanting to return to Earth. At times, it is difficult to not agree with Smith instead of the family. I mean: which would you rather pursue and which was more likely to be found ?
THE GHOST PLANET-Very little to complain about here. A fairly straightforward adventure with little silliness. Unfortunately, this is the last of that nature for quite some time. Seeing the Jupiter land with its legs again was a nice treat. Too bad the Robinsons couldn't stay in outer space moving from planet to planet more often in this season. That would happen in Season Three but for the most part of Season Three they were still stuck on some desert planet a good deal of the time.
FORBIDDEN WORLD-after a really great batch of sequences--the missile firing at the Jupiter, the crash landing of the ship onto a new planet, the wonderment of whether or not this planet can support the group, the vanishing of the Robot and even the mystery of the two monsters (the spider and the bird footed beast), the second half of this episode totally breaks down. This is due to the silly handling of the bird alien once he is fully revealed and the comic Wally Cox, who despite the silliness, gives a good performance. After Will discovers his secrets, he is really quite a sad man on hindsight. The mystery of his secret was well done but the silliness of both the alien and his bird is rather embarrassing. The other plot, that of Smith being filled with explosives, is good but I rather felt they overdid the Robot's callousness. This was passed off as just his teasing--this, after he was going to detonate Smith. This one should have had the alien a bit more mean, only to be revealed as very frightened and wanting peace and quite. Not grinding his teeth at Will and Smith. As it is, not a very enjoyable second half.
SPACE CIRCUS-This one is also very strange. It is both boring and exciting in various parts and it is difficult to split it. Some LOST IN SPACE episodes start out awful and become better while others start out really quite exciting and end up rather daft. This one mixes silliness and tedium with very well done scenes that are difficult to dismiss. When Will says goodbye to his family for what he thinks will be the last time, it is rather poignant without being too coy. John's fight with the monster and Will's face off with it and Marvello is rather well done and that Finestra helps Will is a nice twist. The whole food shortage thing is rather well handled with Maureen convincing John to let the children and the family go see the circus even though it means depleting their food sources some more. Nice to see Smith up to his sabotaging tricks again---tricking Will into going with Marvello and sabotaging the food purifier. And if Smith thought Don's treatment of him was bad, John's promise to skin him alive held some weight to it--and this time, I really felt John meant what he said to Smith. The monster is suitably noisy but rather too clean looking. The aliens are again a bit mysterious and Marvello is fairly sneaky and plotting but the whole idea of circus performers as the aliens seems rather mundane and the aliens are almost too human-like and the idea is a bit laughable--which is probably what it is supposed to be. The subplot of Will's gift is intriguing. The biggest problem with this is the subplot of Smith practicing TipToe Through the Tulips. It is almost painful to watch his mangling of it and the Robot's foolishness, often a bit of a relief from Smith, is just as bad. His rendering of the song is worse than scratching nails on a blackboard. Tepid. If the troupe had been darker and not so human-like and if the song stuff were removed, this one would have been much better.
THE ANDROID MACHINE-I liked this one more when I was much younger. Verda was a character one could care for and sympathy was evoked. The sequence when the Robot and the rest of the family vote for her to remain with them was touching, especially since the Robot was a bit jealous of her replacing him as the kid's teacher. Nice to see some of Penny and Will's lessons. Zumdish and his aide were at their most menacing here---with Zumdish less silly than he would be in later THE TOYMAKER and TWO WEEKS IN SPACE. A big HOWEVER here would go to all the really silly and stupid sequences with Smith caught in Verda's footbath, Smith caught in a Musketeer costume, and Smith caught with Zumdish and his aide. A trend of even more Smith began with this one if that were possible. And there are long, drawn out sequences of Smith plotting against Verda with the Robot at the cave. Agonizingly long. I almost wanted the monster to kill Smith.
THE DEADLY GAMES OF GAMMA SIX-This one had a great, sinister adversary in the form of Myko, nice and touching but not overly sentimental scenes between Will and John (for once this season), and some sense to it. Earth was even in jeopardy due to Smith, not just the Robinsons. In fact, the Robinsons were in less jeopardy than Earth was. It would be attacked if John lost his battle in the ring. Little Geo aside, the wrestling angle was handled more seriously than one would expect. But aleck and alas, Smith's foolishness in training and his ridiculous bout in the ring were embarrassingly bad comedy, if it can be called comedy. I hardly found Smith even mildly amusing in this one. I felt as Maureen did to him in this one--her patients tried. I was glad, for once, both she and John let Smith have it---with John threatening him with physical violence. I also learned from this episode that no one is perfect, not even adults, not even parents. Myko was scary but his boss--the old man was even stranger and scarier in his callousness. Glad to see differing points of view from Judy, Will, Don, and Maureen about fighting and such. The Wheel of Life was an inspired bit of business, very tense after all the Smith foolishness, which if cut down, would have made this a wonderfully memorable episode. NOTE: I still feel that LOST IN SPACE never looked better visually than in the second season--the costumes were the best the show ever used, the color enhanced everything, Penny wore her hair down as did Judy (sorry, just something I've noticed), and there were some stunning camera angles used---for an example watch the beginning of the scene with Smith, John, Will, and Robot at the radio site---as John climbs up to the hill the other three are on--brilliant.
THE THIEF FROM OUTER SPACE-All the trappings of Arabian Knights tales, Aladdin, and myths and legends of India appear here. It didn't entirely work but it didn't entirely fail either. I cannot put my finger on it---I think the music enlivened the whole thing so much, it made the episode far better than it has any right to be. The fact that after soooo many episodes in a row on one planet--it was nice to see at least some of the castaways get off the desert world and onto the Thief's asteroid which was spinning around the planet. Why wasn't John worried about the asteroid all that much ? Ted Cassidy, as always, was very good and cut quite a figure as the Slave, very menacing and scary. Malachi Throne, usually always on target with his characters, was okay---he was bit too over the top for me but how else could you have played this script ? More Smith silliness ruined this one totally but the script didn't help at all. We have Smith in his long johns, a fat princess whom the Thief puts back in the bottle of the genie and leaves with the Robinsons at the end, and long boring talks between the Thief and Will, the Thief and Smith, Smith and the Slave, etc. Will's apparent joining with the Thief, the John-Thief fight sequence, the Sedan Chair flight sequence, Penny and Will's brief madness at each other, and the children's trickery against the Thief did provide some nice moments. When Will raises the sword over Penny to hit her...it was chilling. A nice shot of the Jupiter II from above as viewed on the Thief's screen was welcome. Still, with all going for this one, it should have been less boring with less Smith time and more of the trappings of ancient myths and how they tied into Earth.
CURSE OF COUSIN SMITH-Smith's cousin coming and causing trouble is a good idea. It could have been handled much better. What if Smith's cousin had joined a rescue team heading out to find the Robinsons? Or what if his cousin was just kidnapped by aliens whom he convinced to help him find Smith in the universe? Any number of reasons could have given us why Jeremiah came to the planet. I think Uncle Thaddeus is mentioned as well as Smith's grandmother. All the Smiths are supposed to be dead. Then why in the later FLIGHT INTO THE FUTURE did Smith believe without question that he saw his great, great, great grandson? It could be the machine in that one caused Smith's total delusion. But why didn't it effect Will as much? Anyhow, Jeremiah is at his most menacing when he seems to have set a false fire in the spaceship to lure Smith out. The idea that every time one of the Robinsons open a door or closet, something might explode is a fun and dangerous one however, this is not played up. What is---is the battle of the Smiths and after two acts it gets a lot stale. Having the two bicker constantly on the show was annoying enough. But Jeremiah's magic show, apparently to just fill time, was slow moving and made the Robinson women look pretty lazy and gullible to me. The gambling machine is also a nice idea but what this alien machine (we are never told what it is) has to do with Jeremiah is beyond me or even the writer who wrote this. No explanations---and no sense to this episode at all. And with just a little bit of thought---it could have made sense and been a fine, tense episode with some humor. John's gambling and Maureen's reactions (at least she can do something other than the wash and cook) make the climax a good one. I like the idea that John cheated--or may have--we don't learn if he did or not---a nice touch all round. What happened to Jeremiah at the end is not told to us. In all, a shoddy script for a nice idea. For shame!
WEST OF MARS-As in THIEF OF OUTER SPACE, this one was refreshing in that at least two of the party---Will and Smith---who else?---get off that sandy planet for a time. True, they are on a strange mock up planet that resembles an alien cut up (and the town in STAR TREK'S SPECTRE OF THE GUN which came a few years later) of a Western town. The idea of a space criminal looking like Smith is nothing new but it could have had its merits. Unfortunately, here, it didn't. This is one of the worst LOST IN SPACE episodes with more Smith silliness, much less family stuff, and when we do see the others of the family, they are so dense as to not even try to solve their problems or see through Smith. At one point, when trying to decide which is Smith and which is Zenno, Judy calls everyone to have lunch!!! John's ethics hold up, at least when he hears the Enforcer's (a terrible character) plan to have Smith and Zenno fight a duel to prove who was who. The ending is an anti climax and the scenes on the Western Planet were silly and pointless. A really bad episode.
A VISIT TO HADES-Some of an improvement over the last two or three but only just. Again, Smith fills up almost all of Act One and Two, as well as Three and Four. Judy gets more to do---yeah, she acts like a child and cries---not like a child---like a spoiled little brat and baby. At first, when she seems to be having growing pains and meets Morbus---as well as the tension between she, Don, and Morbus---I thought this was going to be a good Judy episode. Just the opposite. Not only does Judy act like a buffoon but Don, during his fist fight ("put up your dukes, buster!") acts like a total clown. I was almost yearning for Smith to return on screen! Almost. Smith was never stupider but his ring of torture against Morbus was a fine touch. The THIS ISLAND EARTH monster mask looked good in this but the dragon Don shoed away was an embarrassment---a flat two dimensional statue---was it supposed to be alive? Among all the boredom, we have Judy attacked by a giant tentacle (was she making it attack herself ?---it looked like it) which is the worst effect--prop sequence ever done on any LOST IN SPACE. Again, a nice idea to have Hell as a nether dimensional jail for a rebel--with Gerald Mohr particularly great in the role----fitting and devilish but also a bit likeable too. He was one of the best guest stars on LOST IN SPACE. Too bad they didn't make more of the excellent concepts begun here. Don and Judy's romance, long and ever ignored, was...ignored here as well, even though, for once, we were thrown tid bits about how they feel about each other. Judy tells Morbus a girl likes to have a choice and that everyone else sees them together but possibly not herself (although she doesn't say the last comment out loud). Don also tells John he wants to go save Judy since he is close to her as well---hinting he is closer to her than her father. In all, not a serious episode and not a good one either. Nice use of music though.
THE GIRL FROM THE GREEN DIMENSION-After three very good episodes---WRECK OF THE ROBOT, THE DREAM MONSTER, and THE GOLDEN MAN (not without faults but all of high quality in a season that was terribly lacking) we get this one. Total farce, slapstick, this one has Athena (now so named---in WILD ADVENTURE she was not named in the show but in the credits as Loreli--go figure) return. Athena, at least had more of a personality. It was nice to see Will turn green, somewhat turned alien as well. Perhaps it would have been interesting if he stayed green for a few more episodes---it certainly couldn't have hurt the following messes---the absolute worst of LOST IN SPACE---THE QUESTING BEAST, THE TOYMAKER, MUTINY IN SPACE, SPACE VIKINGS (THE worst episode of all time and of any Irwin Allen show), and ROCKET TO EARTH (the next to worst episode and a strong contender for worst). LOST IN SPACE hit a trend from which it never fully recovered. Camp comedy, silliness of characters, nonsense explanations (when any were offered), irrational plots, and long drawn out scenes with Smith and aliens, Smith and the Robot, Smith and Will, Smith and all of the above just totally destroyed whatever seriousness and integrity the series once had. On occasion, it would rise above all this--CAVE OF THE WIZARDS, TRIP THROUGH THE ROBOT, the first half of THE ASTRAL TRAVELER, somewhat with REVOLT OF THE ANDROIDS and THE COLONISTS, and most of THE GALAXY GIFT. The third season was no better but again, it had some good episodes: CONDEMNED OF SPACE, VISIT TO A HOSTILE PLANET, HUNTER'S MOON, KIDNAPPED IN SPACE, THE SPACE PRIMEVALS, FLIGHT INTO THE FUTURE, THE ANTI MATTER MAN, SPACE CREATURE, TARGET: EARTH, and THE FLAMING PLANET. Back to THE GIRL. Let us see---some really good character stuff with Will and Penny and Will's relation to the rest of the family. Also a few good scenes with John and Maureen---if you don't blink you'll see some character stuff there with Maureen telling John she wouldn't brood if she could be persuaded and she let the kids stay up later since Will has finally taken an interest in something since he turned green. The climax reduced LOST IN SPACE to a runaround complete with silly music and fast speeded up film during the chase. While making Athena a bit likeable and sympathetic, Urso was a complete savage which was fine but did he have to roar so loud and inanely. Bad, very bad.
THE QUESTING BEAST-Okayyyyyy. The sequence when Smith tells Will he is sorry about making him lose his innocence is one of the best on LOST IN SPACE. It is serious, truthful, and relevant. Which makes it have almost nothing in common with the rest of this junk. Total junk. Sir Sacramonte and the Dragon were likeable---if they were from a TV sitcom like BEWITCHED! Penny, usually sensible and likeable, was quite mushy in this one, although it did bring out her sensitive side. When Smith tells John and Judy about the monsters and then tells them it was all a big lie, we have a scene that turned well placed (for once) comedy (Smith's lie was seen through as Judy and John question him) into pathos as Will comes out of the spaceship and overhears Smith's lie. Smith, after Will leaves, confesses to John and then the scene with Will and Smith talking about growing up and having faith was next. This was all very good and well acted. But that Dragon and Sacramonte----there are, again, long drawn out talks with both goofy aliens and either Will or Penny. And of course, Smith. The last line of Smith's was nicely put to the music which became rather subtle---excellent music from BLAST OFF INTO SPACE and it showed how much he cared for Will and Penny as he ushered them off. There is some really dreadful music repeated over and over for the dog and the Knight as well as for the dragon---the cliffhanger that lead into this also had a jolly jaunty tune to it---hardly suspenseful at all! How bout this for a debate---which was worse--THE GIRL FROM THE GREEN DIMENSION or THE QUESTING BEAST ? Again, there are scenes that cannot be dismissed in both---well played and acted. But the stuff that surrounds these is dismal beyond belief for a series that had and could have still had such scope.
THE TOYMAKER-A nice Christmas type story. It had the good fortune to be placed right in the middle of some of the worst LOST IN SPACES ever made---and all in a row. It was the gem among the mud. Not that it was that good---it wasn't. For one, Zumdish and his aide return---less menacing this time but still somewhat up to par. Robot's pop sound, imitating Zumdish was a hoot. The fog shrouded pits were a nice touch, possibly leftovers from GHOST IN SPACE and the toy machine and the links to THE ANDROID MACHINE were also welcome. Some continuity is always welcome. Some silliness here as Smith is painted by the equally silly and annoying Mr. OM. Still tolerance for the old is commendable. The toy monster was an eerie twist but it was overused. This is one of the first times Smith and Will could have returned to Earth but missed it as they see it through a dimensional doorway in the toy machine--and are stopped by OM. Penny has a nice scene, watching over Will, until he vanishes into the device despite warnings from the Robot. It is hard to forget this sequence--as Penny truly cares about Will and is afraid--nicely conveyed by Angela as is her crying sequence with John. Judy telling John she will stay with her is also a nice touch. Will's arrival in the toy machine was odd and Twilight-Zone-ish in nature---and is an example of what makes LOST IN SPACE so good: a human, cut off from his fellow travelers and generally weaponless, is in a dark and unexplored place where things do lurk--sounds prove this out and what can be seen is scary and unexplained (in this case toys). The music adds to it. Unfortunately, this one falls apart when OM enters the scene---quite literally falls apart!!!! The getting out of the machine is a nice climax. Penny's birthday party was obnoxious. I like the fact that John pulled Zumdish up before he fell into the pit and that Zumdish had already given them the drill cap to put into the fissure.
MUTINY IN SPACE-Shall we skip discussion about this one? The only worthwhile scenes are the first one with Smith's haywire experiment and his being ostracized and his self imposed banishment (again--he left camp willingly or unwillingly in THE OASIS, WISH UPON A STAR, THE DREAM MONSTER, ALL THAT GLITTERS and would do so again in THE MECHANICAL MEN), the ones with the Robinsons as they try to figure out what happened to Will and Penny finds the Admiral's log book. The rest is really junk. Some mild amusement is derived from the Admiral and Will but Smith dressed as a Spindly legged sailor is just too dumb. What was anyone thinking when they wrote and made this one? Terrible!
THE SPACE VIKINGS-Toohooo! Toohoo! Ohhhhh boyyyy. THE WORST EPISODE OF LOST IN SPACE. Then comes ROCKET TO EARTH and then maybe THE GREAT VEGETABLE REBELLION. For my money, I think GIRL FROM THE GREEN and QUESTING BEAST are probably worse than REBELLION. Angela, in the Irwin Allen special didn't like it when the aliens were silly and I agree with her whole heartedly. And SPACE VIKINGS could have been so good. As in STAR TREK the myths could have been shown as aliens---and their world would have been so magically fun. Yet when Will and Smith are taken by Thor (an unmuscular but big one and a stupid one--not the Marvel Thor) the world he brings them to looks just like the planet they just left! A big chance to show the world and creatures of the myths was missed. In the way HERCULES and XENA are so fun but exciting and adventurous yet humor filled, THE SPACE VIKINGS could have been just as equal. Yet it falls miserably flat. If I want comedy--I'll watch Abbott and Costello not LOST IN SPACE. And here, with Smith's foolish plan to convince Thor he is not strong using a fake rock, is so silly and boring. And the dopey Thor falls for it. Too many talks and not enough action. I do like Will telling Smith, "Now you've done, you've really done it!" He sounds as if he has had enough of Smith by now. Still in the next show, he and Smith....well, you'll see.
ROCKET TO EARTH-Not even the fun and talent of Al Lewis could save this one. Al Lewis of THE MUNSTERS, lending credence to the idea that LOST IN SPACE was fast becoming a BATMAN--BEWITCHED type sitcom, plays a sorcerer in what is almost a hokey episode as QUESTING BEAST. And with a worse (if it can be believed) and less tense lead in cliffhanger. Long dull sequences cannot help. So throw those in. Lots of padding noticed here as Al Lewis and Jonathan will admit to in THE FANTASY WORLDS OF IRWIN ALLEN. The ride to Earth was well done----probably because Smith was confined and Al Lewis wasn't able to be in those sequences. I like Al Lewis but his character was not a good alien being. The puppet creature on the other hand, was a menacing presence and its scene in the cave, as it scares Will and Smith---AND the Robot---is very scary, possibly the second best (the space ride was first) scene in this crap. John gives Maureen an incredulous look when she gives voice to her comment about Will not having taken a sweater---gee, if a cold were the only danger....Earth firing missiles at Smith and Will is a nice twist. But is with John telling Zalto to be off this planet by a certain time...is this a Western? Well, maybe it is. Don Richardson did not know what he was doing.
CAVE OF THE WIZARDS-A big improvement over the last six episodes before it. Still, it is very Smith centered. Penny and Judy hardly appear at all in what is maybe a cameo by each. The Robot and Will are also highly involved. Yet, the story is not bad and the seriousness of it hits home---it is played almost fully straight and not for camp. Smith and Will's relationship hits home and is very good here, shown in more detail than usual (as in THE RAFT when it first really began to develop more into a father-son or grandfather--grandson type thing). A good one with, again for once, viewers left guessing how Smith would get out of the machine---since Don and John failed at saving him (as they would in THE PHANTOM FAMILY). The sequence in the phony Jupiter Two is hard hitting and leaves one with an eerie feeling. Very gritty and serious! Well done. Need to see more of the family though.
TREASURE OF THE LOST PLANET-Ho hum, back to the drudgery. Tucker returns but with his dignity not intact! Smith faints often, Will mugs about and his faith in Tucker is nice but as he is older than when he was in THE SKY PIRATE, it is a bit annoying. The whole thing is played for laughs---only it isn't funny. Too bad, too bad. Or very, very bad. The skull head was okay but again, it was overused and nothing goes the subtle route on this episode.
REVOLT OF THE ANDROIDS-This one was an obvious spoof of SUPERMAN. It really does work well though and while there is humor galore, we at least have more for John and Don to do, there is a little bit more action than in all the last ten episodes put together, and Verda returns more human than before. This really was a fondly remembered show and it does not cheat. The Robot, when he first met Verda, didn't know much about the cosmos and its history. Now, he is repairing IDAK with knowledge of the android. Later episodes would reveal he has knowledge of many different alien cultures and definitions. How? How was he linked to the computer in KIDNAPPED IN SPACE? How was he linked to THE MECHANICAL MEN? How did he know Space Law and medicine? He was trained in it before the first episode? Was he influenced by aliens in his design and structure and programming. I would think that this would be the logical conclusion. Aliens, for whatever their own reasons, had a hand in the Robot's programming. We do know that the alien nurse hid the tape reduced Princess in the Robot (PRINCESS OF SPACE) so it is not unthought of that the Robot had other aliens messing about with him. In all, a good episode and in the cliffhanger to THE COLONISTS, Judy and Penny get to do a bit more. Will is a male chauvinist and I think, while it is a bit charming in his personality, it is a bit off the mark for a show about the future. Judy and Penny seem unable to do much and when John is asked by Maureen if she can help---he really doesn't think she can---and answers her by telling her what HE will do. Ladies weren't very nicely treated as capable individuals on LOST IN SPACE.
THE COLONISTS-There are some well thought out complaints about this one but somehow, I think it works in the context of this season. It is more action oriented as was REVOLT OF THE ANDROIDS. It involves the rest of the family more than usual and more than the past 15 episodes or so, and it is entertaining without being dominated by Smith. Smith almost dominates it but the others have dangerous jobs to do also--which is nice for a change. I do wish they spent more time on how Neolani was practically brainwashing Judy and Penny but didn't seem to affect Maureen one bit. I also think this would have caused more friction between the mother and the daughters but since this is LOST IN SPACE we lost that chance to explore the characters yet again----for more light hearted---pick up my ring stuff from Penny to Will. Again, the overall feel is somewhat demeaning to women in that they DO need men to do their work. The whole need for the arch was a good idea---they have to pass through it--perhaps for some kind of process to acclimate their bodies to this planet---but as always explanations are not forthcoming. Too bad. This one almost made an excellent rating. Having the Robinsons taken over by a more powerful alien force and made slaves was interesting. Neolani was somewhat menacing and made a good, more serious menace. I really thought her interrogation of Will stood out as having her shine as a villain (and made Will look like a dope, "When my father finds out about this...."). A vast improvement in the show was being noted---we passed MUTINY IN SPACE and THE SPACE VIKINGS after all. Someone must have seen how this show grew miserable by now.
TRIP THROUGH THE ROBOT-Yes, the episode is total fantasy but it is entertaining and somewhat surreal to see Will and Smith, and later Don and John moving about what is supposed to be the inside of the Robot. Yes, most of the stuff inside the Robot was goofy looking for a Robot but the show was fun and the ending with them trying to get out of the Robot was chilling enough. It also featured more action than usual for this season. I really liked how John encouraged Will to reach for him to get out of the Robot. There was also a real feel of the gothic and/or scientific horror during this journey--especially when Smith falls into one of the Robot's pipes and is almost killed. I also think there is genuine pathos in the short sequence when Smith, after just telling Will to give up on trying to restore the now dead Robot, goes over to the mechanical heart of the Robot and pushes it, in an attempt to restart the heart. His leaving Will behind is believeable as, even though he and Will are good friends at this point, he was too scared and panicked. I do think the Robot-power situation was serious; however, in the past, even when there were power drains (WRECK OF THE ROBOT) the Robot seemed fine (an exception was in GHOST IN SPACE). No real continuity at all on this series. Yet, this was one a fun second seasoner. It is also one where the "question of the Robot" is solved: he is a part of the family as set up in WRECK OF THE ROBOT.
THE PHANTOM FAMILY--Not a total decline back to the bad and silly plots but almost. It is very Smith centered again and Smith is this and Smith is that but at least we did get two very dramatic scenes---two scenes that made sense within the context of the episode (these being the scene where Will tells off the fake Smith and when the fake Smith faces Lemnoc and talks to the real Smith just before he lets him go--knowing he will disintegrate into cosmic dust). Why Lemnoc didn't have the know how to train the androids himself was beyond me. He had the power to watch the others so why not relay what to do to them? He had the will to get to the planet and make the copies---why not have the will to survive? It is interesting that his people lost their will to survive. But why? How? The Lemnoc mask was most unsettling and very scary and alien like. Lemnoc is one of Irwin Allen's most realistically and visually stunning aliens (in my opinion anyway). John and Maureen return from a trip (and if anyone understands what Maureen answers to Will after she gets out, let me know--he says, "We're glad you're back," and she says something like, "So are we at the cliff we were travelling," or is it, "clip?") It is mumbled. I also liked John's comment, "For once, we're all delighted to see you." Some continuity with THE COLONISTS as Will uses one of the radio set ups.
THE MECHANICAL MEN-This one should be passed up. It is plain silly in plot. For once, the cast continues on as though it is absurd and not as if it is an every day thing. John says, "From now on, I believe anything." I mean the Robot and Smith switch personalities and for about one act this would have been okay but it does seem to drag on. As a novelty for the show, it works. Some nice bits include Will and the Robot talking about the Space Trader and the two attacks on the Jupiter II. In both this and THE PHANTOM FAMILY, the Robinsons were faced with leaving the ship. In PHANTOM FAMILY they wouldn't for Smith. In THE MECHANICAL MAN, they knuckled under for the Robot-Smith. It was nice in a way to see the Robinsons close to losing the ship and thinking about losing it. Perhaps for a few episodes they should have lost it. It would have made a nice survival story. When the Robot-Smith is shot and knocked out of commission, why do the tiny Robots stop attacking. They certainly seemed stronger than the family especially after bombing the camp site tree!
THE ASTRAL TRAVELER-LOST IN SPACE seemed to be picking up more and more with each week. The first half of this story is supernaturally exciting, very scary---perhaps the scariest and most atmospheric LOST IN SPACE episode---it certainly gave the scare factor a high rating--the haunted castle, the shrieks of the monster, the monster Angus itself and its arrival and chasing of Will, the executioner and the ghostly parade to the chopping block with the brick wall where they came out of, the fire branding iron coming up at Will (for once danger with NO background music---which makes it all the more scary!) The whole set up to this episode was very entertaining. Unfortunately, it all falls apart when Hammish is revealed. He is a charming personality; however, when he becomes human, it turns into goofy alien--Smith's schemes plot yet again. It was nice to see Will's compassion release Hammish and Angus but not find out about it. Very good. But again, too much nonsense is wasted on over long Smith-Hammish-alien scenes. Will wanting to sacrifice himself for Smith was touching. This one is a winner though when compared to most other second seasoners. Only John's voice is heard over the radio.
THE GALAXY GIFT-John Carradine is fine as Mr. Arcon, a more serious alien as they were getting more serious as the second season went on. His rapport with Penny is great and the plot is unusual for LOST IN SPACE as the aliens send Smith and Penny to a dead star which they claim is Earth. Debbie appears and that is always nice to see. Maureen is in charge and she does a better job than she did in ONE OF OUR DOGS IS MISSING but not ALL THAT GLITTERS. She does show her compassionate side as does Penny. The sequence as the Saticons rise up over a hill as they confront the Jupiter II is a classic, nice and chilly. Maureen finally showed some backbone to the aliens in this one. And about time too. She also chews out Mr. Arcon but good. But alas, Will has to provide the clue to helping Penny and Smith out of the jam. The Chariot is seen briefly as it was in TRIP THROUGH THE ROBOT and John and Don are seen in it, away from camp. They are not in this episode other than that. The cold sequences brought back pleasant reminders of THERE WERE GIANTS IN THE EARTH and THE HUNGRY SEA. And the Saticons were really excellent villains. All in all a good episode.
SECOND SEASON MASTERPIECES (IN THE CONTEXT OF THE SECOND SEASON): WRECK OF THE ROBOT, THE DREAM MONSTER, THE GOLDEN MAN and to a much lesser extent PRISONERS OF SPACE (which was far too Smith centered for my taste, however it had some very funny lines and situations WITHOUT the aliens being silly and stupid). I am sure these four are not perfect but they are head and shoulders above almost all the other second seasoners.
THE SPACE PRIMEVALS-This one was very good and exciting as most of the early third seasoners were; however we could have done without the Robot chanting, "Boom, boom, boom!" Scientific flaws and stock shots aside, that is really the only complaint about this one. The idea of primitives turning into some kind of higher life form is very good, if not handled too well at the climax. A fun one. Where are Maureen, Penny, and Judy when they are not complaining or asking questions? Glad to see the Space Pod used so much in this one with lots of nice new effects shots both interior and exterior. Also the Chariot gets quite a good workout at the start of this story. Rock planet alert (although the location scenes were nicely used).
THE SPACE DESTRUCTORS-Most of this was action oriented as most of the early third seasoners were. One big flaw: the scene where the Cyborgs try to cook and tell jokes. Smith being taken over by the Computer could have been played up more as he turned almost utterly ruthless and deadly. It was nice to see him as bad as that again. All in all, a very action fun filled episode. The girls are hardly seen at all any more. Desert rock planet alert.
THE HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSE-I find it hard to believe in the lighthouse being where it is but I could pass that mistake and plot flaw up. J-5 meowing is embarrassing----very embarrassing. His almost effeminate ways were also a bit difficult to take. Yet, the character excels when he is menacing: he really seems jealous of Will early on and gets even with him and when he tells Penny he is taking the Jupiter---it is very effective menacing. He has control of Robot and Smith...and the twist in the end---that Zaybo is no longer needed is a good one. The in space sequences are exciting and the music is top notch! BUT WHY did John have to do a space walk without his gloves on? The voice over of the lighthouse was effective, linking the third season with the first. Once Col. Fogedity appears, the episode sinks like the Seaview. Silly. The lonely factor for both J-5 and the Colonel was interesting. The space storm idea was okay but not really sound science. The lion sequences were well handled especially the first one when Penny just meets J-5 and then has to face a lion. Not bad but could have been better with less silliness (a newspaper in the stabilizers?). Also---John and Don didn't know very much in this one, did they? Why couldn't they figure out that the newspaper was there or that the short on the stabilizers on both ships were the problem? And what happened to the space storm ("Storm, what storm?") at the end? Did they just divert away from it? The very last scene as Penny bids J-5 a goodbye seems to have some unspoken sadness about it---more to do with Penny's predicament and it is really a beautiful scene mixed with the music and effects as the Robinsons sail off again with all snug aboard. A really memorable scene. The long sequence between Smith and the Zaybo girl was a bore except of course for the looks of the girl! Nice to have everyone in space and the takeoff was brilliant, however---at the opening scenes---rock desert planet alert.
COLLISION OF PLANETS-Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Space hippies. A Collision between another world and the planet (desert planet again) the Robinsons are on. Smith dying. The myth of Samson. More good musical backdrops. A demolition team sent to blow up the planet. More of the excellent Space Pod. Somehow it all doesn't work for me as one. Will lamenting over Smith after he is dead is an odd scene, quite interesting. Also, John and Don play it pretty straight, as always. It is nice to have to think that one of them is going to have to stay behind on the planet (willingly sacrificing himself for the other) and that the women must face the prospect of lifting off without them. The aliens could have been more serious---perhaps as hippie savages but in some kind of armor. I don't think the problem was the clothes though----it was how it was played and written. John's fight with the leader was well staged. Why didn't John think of destroying the motorcycles before ? Smith's transformations-----the less said the better. For the Smith as Samson factor alone, I think this episode makes THE GREAT VEGETABLE REBELLION look like a diamond in the rough!!! Really silly one with some good hopefuls of clever build up that are lived up to in the fight scenes. Could have been much, much better. Rock desert planet alert! Again! Couldn't they design any new type planets other than the rock desert one ?!
A DAY AT THE ZOO-Almost as bad as anything done in Season Two, however Farnum and Oggo are good characters and Penny has some dramatic scenes with Oggo several times in this one. Again, Smith steals the show----and damages it beyond hope. There is some action when Will and Farnum are stranded on the Oggo world---which of course looks mostly like all the other desert planets ever used on the show. The novelty of the zoo plot wears off after the first half hour and Mort made a creepy adversary for the family and the Robot in particular. Judy sticking her tongue out at the monsters who are viewing them through the scanner was just plain silly. She and Don appear to fill the parent roles in this one Maureen is not in most of the episode. John doesn't appear at all. This one had a lot of merit in the concept but the execution of it seemed all wrong. Rock desert planet alert! They may have well been stranded on Priplanus or the second season planet again!
TWO WEEKS IN SPACE-The action scenes aside, this one really stinks. Smith-Zumdish nonsense fills the hour. The aliens do look as scary as Will describes to John and Don and their plan to make Smith appear to be one of them so as the police can find his body in space and make them think it is one of them, is a good one---they do need three more to do this to. The transformations, while maintaining an air of creepy atmosphere, are the most poorly done transformations on LOST IN SPACE. Lots of silly stuff as Smith turns the Jupiter into a hotel resort for vacationing aliens. And since when can the Robinsons set up a force field to stop aliens from landing on a planet!!!!???!!!! Having the girls along only as nice scenery and added attractions maintains the terrible male pig attitude present in almost every LOST IN SPACE episode. Can't they do anything besides cook, clean, scream, and complain? The volcano lava pit sequence was good. Almost made up for all the other crap. Ahhhhhh, a nice forestry planet with lava pits---very good that they did not have another damned desert rock planet!
CASTLES IN SPACE-Again, a good concept and idea with nice, seemingly new sets (they weren't but they looked different due to the lighting). The planet the family is on is a cold one, almost wintery in feel. The Robinsons have split up---there is an opening scene with Don falling off the radar tower (since when did they need a tower) in what is almost an old style cliffhanger type and fairly well done. Penny, John, and Maureen appear briefly, off in the Chariot exploring or setting up another radar. I like the part when John asks Don if there were any problems and Don responds with, "The usual," to which John replies, correctly, "Smith." Don answers with, "Who else?" Precisely my feelings. The whole episode has a nice cozy feel to it (added to that is the song Will and Judy nicely sing in front of a camp fire), a different feel to it, being set on a different type world. They tried, the crew really did. The block of ice and the thing inside and the awakening of the princess are all very effective and atmospheric. The whole thing tumbles down faster than ice on an Arizona sidewalk with the appearance of Chavo. Now, Chavo in and of himself was VERY menacing, especially in his scenes with Don and Judy. He lost all credibility when he starts acting goofy with Smith (who else?) and his actual attire, dressed like an old time Mexican bandit---is just really one of the stupidest things ever on LOST IN SPACE. The space craft he came in was a ball of fire, but this episode wasn't. Really, it could have been a good episode if they had made Chavo just a bit more serious. His fight with Don was one of the highlights of this one. Getting the Robot drunk and bull fighting with the Robot were not highlights. The ice melting is a nice homage to THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD.
PRINCESS OF SPACE-Again, nice idea having an alien hiding something in the Robot before the blast off two and a half years ago. The turning people into tape was bizarre enough but not so outlandish to be goofy. The fall down of this one is the aliens, all stereotypes of pirates and princesses and queens. The lines the aliens have are just plain awful. Again, a little more seriousness and delicacy in the guest roles' lines would have added to a show which already had a nice idea. Penny could have really been the princess until we find out, Will's idea (where did he come up with it? and why didn't he think of it sooner?), that the princess was hidden by the alien nurse inside the Robot. Some nice action at the end but again, Fedor loses any kind of real menace (except in one short scene just as Will finds out Fedor is a machine). One part I do like is when Will chews out the Admiral pirate and tells him he hates him just after the Admiral throws one of his tantrums---both actors did a good job with this scene. But that's about it. Even the lovely presence of the always jolly and happy Sheila Matthews couldn't help this one. She had a few funny lines but nothing that stands out. She and the rest of the cast deserved better. Another !*@&#$^@# rock desert planet! John and Maureen are pretty much out of this one except for the nice beginning (which implies that they need some time together and only the two of them for a change) and the ending. I like the goofy music for once---the ending and the peter pecked music---it is fun! It was also used in A DAY AT THE ZOO and SPACE BEAUTY.
THE PROMISED PLANET-Another novel idea--having people age backwards is ruined by the Smith turning into a hippie sub plot. Several nice sequences as the Robinson adults don't recall Penny and Will at all. Very effectively played by Guy and Billy. The rescue more than made up for the hippie silliness with Smith. Some really bad moments countered by some nice ones. The better ones include John trying to talk sense into Penny, Bart telling Penny and Will just what they need--the truth for a change but hardly comforting, and the tests Will and Penny have to go through. All in all, this one could have been a lot better but it is not as bad as most remember---although close. The aliens, for once, seemed very alien in their true look! Nice to see the Jupiter once again in space. A neat early twist here, is that, for once, the aliens aren't faking a return to Earth---but an arrival for the Jupiter at Alpha Centuari with families there. It is logical that since being lost, other families would have gone on and arrived before the Jupiter. An interesting twist is that they land on what they---and the viewers---believe to be Alpha Centuari. Missile stock footage alert (from THE GHOST PLANET--literally and used in TARGET: EARTH as Earth missiles). Good to see the Jupiter landing legs as in THE DERELICT, VISIT TO A HOSTILE PLANET, KIDNAPPED IN SPACE, and THE GHOST PLANET.
FUGITIVES IN SPACE-Again, a nice try as Don and Smith are transferred to the prison planet and it looks very hot! Very, very hot as the elevator looks chilled---actually probably due more to the actors conveying both hot and cold than the differences in the sets---which were also quite well decorated up to look like a different planet. The Warden was a good character but tended to get on one's nerves after awhile. The way the script went, I was wondering right to the end, whether or not he was a good guy or a bad guy. I still am not sure. I like that bit. Too often, LOST IN SPACE didn't let anyone think for themselves---at least not intentionally. I mean there were so many holes in most stories and in the continuity (what there was of it) that one had to think about how this all fit in together. Creech was a good villain.
SPACE BEAUTY-The ending act to this episode has a great deal of action, highlighted tremendously by the new and exciting music. This probably, at least for me, saves the whole thing. Having Judy in the spotlight (for maybe the fourth time in 83 episodes) made for a nice change. She can talk for more than 3 minutes. Hmmmmmmm. Farnum appears again as does Dee Hartford but not as Verda. Both help. Oggo is gone and no mention is made of what happened to him. Didn't expect one anyway. The soul subplot was a good one and I like the idea that Farnum had to fool Smith into doing the dirty deed of making Judy sign the paper. At this point, Smith was more interesting than most of the second and third season---he seemed more like an ally than ever before and if he had known Judy would have been put in such danger---as well as himself---he wouldn't have done what he did to get her to sign. He also helps the whole crew (minus John and Maureen again) get out of the scrap with the aliens from the radiation planet. I like this one despite a weak beginning with Will and Smith encountering Farnum--but it made sense that they see him since he was interacting mostly with them. Judy and Penny's scene at meeting Farnum was a lot better and seemed as if they were reminiscing--not mentioning Oggo of course. The Robot voice trick was not too over the top---well, maybe it was, but in comparison to other second and third seasoners as well as THE SPACE CROPPERS, it wasn't! Judy, in this episode, seemed to have a sharp sarcastic wit that didn't hurt anyone but was fun just the same.
THE FLAMING PLANET-missile alert, desert planet dressed up to be deserted planet alert, good alien and good alien plant monsters, well conceived! The radiation belt appears again and Penny and Judy fall the wrong way when the ship shakes---when the ship tilts down---they fall up! When the ship falls up, they fall down...you get the idea. This one was really quite good and much more serious. I like that the Jupiter, as in the near perfect SPACE CREATURE, is orbiting a planet and not landing! I also think the plot to this one is a bit different for LOST IN SPACE and this one deserves to be counted as great! Many might disagree (there is that whole business with Smith being the plant's mother but that is cute in a way). Don and Smith renew their in fighting with vigor in this one and only John can put a stop to it. I like that Don has to threaten Smith with a laser gun (in a scene that reminds me of when Smith had a gun to Don's head---secretly---in THE RELUCTANT STOWAWAY). The Smith humor is kept in check and as such, it is very funny---especially when he sees the Sobram and Don doesn't. I also like Smith's line, "I'm trapped here with a madman!" meaning Don.
THE GREAT VEGETABLE REBELLION-Okay, this one has a reputation. Most of that comes with the absurdity of the outfits--I mean Tybo just looks so ridiculous with his face sticking out of the hole in the giant carrot! Willaby is suitably goofy looking and Smith as a celery stalk is a good outfit but he acts so, so, flowery (for lack of a better, less offensive term). Harris didn't do much to keep this one from being worse. The Judy-Will scenes are good, nice to see Judy interacting with someone and I like that Will feels protective of Judy in the plant pit---a good action bit as the creature stalks after them (pun intended). This one is still less offensive than the first three episodes of SPACE CASES! I like the fact that, for once, Maureen is included in the list of those captured----and the planet is a forestry one----needed for the plot but it looks so darned good! Nice set though. The landing legs make a nice appearance. The idea of plants feeling is not at all that bad as most suggest. It is really quite fantasy filled and enjoyable. If the vegetables were made to be as menacing as either movie version of THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, then this episode would have been quite good. As it stands, it is not the worst episode but comes very close (after all time losers like THE GIRL FROM THE GREEN DIMENSION, QUESTING BEAST, and THE worst episode--THE SPACE VIKINGS).
JUNKYARD OF SPACE-I like this one. Smith as Don says--is up to his old tricks. This implied Smith wasn't as bad as he was during the first year and three quarters of the trip and has become more of an ally than a hindrance---or at least doesn't try to pull as much hi-jinks as he used to. This is certainly true but here, he pulls quite a bit. He really didn't want the Junkman to steal the spaceship but he sure did help quite a bit. Smith will always be Smith. The music in this one was very different and the (yes, desert planet set) set was dressed up to look very different---almost dark and at twilight all the time--a bit like THE TIME MERCHANT set, only more scattered with more junk machines from almost every other LOST IN SPACE ever made. The Will-Robot relationship was strong and the scenes set in space were excellent. Missile alert! We also see John in the parajets-first season shirt and we see the landing legs of the Jupiter in some of the last shots of the episode. Not a terrible one to end up with. The Junkman could be alternately menacing, helpful, sarcastic, intelligent about another's motives (even Smith's), and cold. His taking of parts from the Robot changed him to be a bit softer and I feel the actor playing the part did a marvelous job! I doubt he would have given back the parts but I imagine he did as he said he would. The last scene with Smith and the Robot was not a scene to go out with but the episode was not bad to end on. Could have been far worse!
GEMS OF THE THIRD SEASON:
CONDEMNED OF SPACE-It was soooo nice to have them back in space again and for a longer time than ever before.
VISIT TO A HOSTILE PLANET-despite the asinine villagers, this one had the double novelty of having everyone return to Earth and in the past after going through a time warp--not much can spoil that plot line!
HUNTER'S MOON-not without flaws but a brilliant actioner based on THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME and with plenty of location shooting, a rarity on LOST IN SPACE; also Megazor made an excellent bad guy!
KIDNAPPED IN SPACE-I like this one despite some obvious flaws and real silly sequences such as the Robot explaining he went to Med School!!!
THE SPACE PRIMEVALS
THE SPACE DESTRUCTORS-lots of action!
FLIGHT INTO THE FUTURE-A great episode where one can appreciate the Smith humor since it doesn't overpower the plot but made one amused---and the plot was very mysterious right up to the ending or the other's participation and it was kept pretty serious. Glad to see Judy have more to do even if she was just an illusion--loved the mixing of planet sets--forest, desert, another deserted Jupiter II.
SPACE CREATURE-yes, the creature was a child and the toys in the other dimension just added to the oddness of it all but this episode was fairly tense and serious---it was great!
THE ANTI MATTER MAN-what more can I say about this---it was doubly great, even if it is more fantasy oriented---it was still very serious, very dark, and spacey--perhaps the best episode all around.
TARGET: EARTH-yes, I know there are a lot of cliches, many of which harken back to other LOST IN SPACEs but maybe that is why I like it. Once more, there is a forced landing. The legs of the ship are seen as well as a rare scene near the exit from the lower hatch. The monster aliens are suitably scary and serious!!! The main cast portray their evil selves to the hilt---John and the girls are very scary when being bad. The trip to Earth (yes another one--remember RETURN FROM OUTER SPACE) is fun filled. Stock footage alert on the missiles and the meteor storm (in black and white no less).
THE TIME MERCHANT-some silliness in it but I love when John uses the Merchant's pen and then does a double take as he sees it pulls from the alien's outfit. Smith's caring of Penny, Judy and Will and his last minute heroics, the whole time travel thing and the fight sequence at the end are just well done. The set is very Salvatore Dali--nice set! Minor desert rock planet alert.
THE FLAMING PLANET and JUNKYARD OF SPACE.
I know this is the most critical thing anyone has probably written on LOST IN SPACE but I must emphasize I do like the show--I just get bored sometimes by the combination of silly Smith overtones AND the ridiculous aliens used in some of the episodes. I hate to nitpick it but LOST IN SPACE, while very, very good---isn't a perfect series by any means and as a product of its time, needed some rethinking but often, scripts and direction were not forthcoming. Tally hooo or should I say, TooHoo, TooHooo, or whatever.