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Lost in Space
Topic Started: Sep 21 2007, 07:48 AM (2,484 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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In the far, far future of 1997, an overpopulated planet Earth suffers from too many people and too few remaining natural resources, and so looks to the stars for colonization. From millions of volunteers, one family – the Robinsons – are chosen to be the vanguard of a colony on an inhabitable planet in orbit around the star Alpha Centauri.

And so begins Lost in Space, the hit TV show that ran for three seasons, 1965-1968, on CBS. And I figure since I’m blogging Star Trek, a show I didn’t watch, the least I could do is also blog Lost in Space, a show I loved as a kid.

The first season is in B&W, and the stories are much more serious and adventure-oriented than the show would become after Batman (which aired opposite LiS on ABC) became a monster hit.

The first episode, “The Reluctant Stowaway”, introduces the dad, Zorro and the mom, the nice lady from Lassie, plus daughters Judy (a babe) and Penny, son Will, and a chubby-looking robot who ends up with more personality than the rest of the family put together. The pilot is a real hothead, Major Don West. Oh, yeah, there’s also a saboteur on board, Colonel Doctor Zachery Smith, who has programmed the robot to destroy the ship 8 hours into the flight, but who finds himself trapped aboard.

Trivia #1: the Jupiter II launches on October 16, 1997, meaning we’re coming up on the 10th year anniversary of the event. Shall we sponsor a Lost in Space party?

Dirty dialog: The narrator tells us that the target planet was located by “a series of deep-thrust alpha probes.”

Things the Enterprise couldn’t do, part 1: According to Star Trek, Kirk and Spock and co. are on a “five year mission.” However, the Jupiter II will take 5˝ years to reach Alpha Centauri. That’s why the Robinsons are cryogenically frozen for the trip.

Nah, it couldn’t be: One of the narrators is the guy who voices the robot; the other sounds like Hugh Beaumont, but probably isn’t, although that would explain what Ward did at the office all day.

The robot has no name, but is referred to as an “Environmental Control Robot.” Which makes him ECR. I think that’s pronounced “Urkel”, or should be.

The pre-title sequence for this episode goes on for a full 8 minutes before we get to the opening credits. I thought I’d fallen asleep and missed something.

And he’s the pilot! Memorable dialog from that hothead, Major West: “If you wake up and find me driving, you’ll know you’re in trouble.”

The silver suits that the Robinson party wears are really cool, and much more realistic than those long-sleeved nylon things they wear on Star Trek.

The special effects, at least on this episode, are terrific, much better than anything I’ve seen so far on Star Trek. There’s a meteor storm that hits the Jupiter II, and it’s really, really well done.

Spin doctors: NASA’s hopeful message to the U.S. President at episode’s end: “They’re presumed to be hopelessly lost in space.”

One last Lost in Space / Star Trek comparison: reference is made to 3-D chess, a favorite pastime of Kirk and Spock. It’s too bad they don’t wear green/red glasses when they play it.

Trivia #2: The Robinsons’ mission is costing the U.S. $30 billion, but will pay for itself with the oil we find on this planet after we land and are greeted as liberators.

Trivia you won’t find out from just watching the episode, but which we’re giving as a Balcony bonus: The ship is called the “Jupiter II”, and obviously, it’s a very cool flying saucer. Didja ever wonder, “What th’ heck happened to the Jupiter I?” Well, that’s an in-joke: see producer Irwin Allen’s 1962 feature Five Weeks in a Balloon for the answer.

Continued next week: the first season ends with cliffhangers. In this one, the dad has gone outside the craft to fix something, and his tether breaks, and he’s apparently doomed to just kind of hang there on the clearly visible wires (well, ALL the special effects weren’t great) forever. Next week, episode 2: “The Derelict!”
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Stony Brooke da Mesquiteer
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I liked this show when I was a little kid but now that I'm a big kid....
The series ran while I was 7 and 8 years old.

I remember the series starting out in black n white then going to color after the 1st year. I also remember, maybe, the episodes of the first year started out with a crewmember meeting with some type of DANGER DANGER then the screen would freeze and go into a countdown from 5 maybe 10. The cast were introduced as animated whited-out astronauts, who were all tethered to each other in a floating outer space queue.

Inspector Carr brought up the space pirate from LIS on the ST thread and i remember the pirate and his robotic parrot. I also remember a motorcycle gang with intergalactic choppers. Both of these episodes were in color and campy. I would've said corny back in '67.

This is another TV series I watched when it originally aired but I haven't seen it since and I probably won't in the near future unless it comes on cable.

As I recall, Don West is a scuffler. Could he be the brother of the most infamous scuffler in TV, James West?? Coincidence? I think not!!

Fire the season up, Gravy!!! I'm game.
It's like Rodney King used to say, "Can't we all get a bong."
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Bonga
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Lost in Space is the only TV show that I have DVDs of. I loved it as a little kid, when I hardly ever got to see it; I loved it as a college student, when we watched it stoned at 1:00 a.m.; and I love it now, when I see it in what attracted me to in in both prior incarnations. Oddly enough, my kids think its scary and don't care for it. So I tend to fire it up after they've gone to bed. This is the TV series that is closest to serials (mho) in its cliffhanger endings and mix of silliness and actual danger and suspense. While I can't take it seriously, it is well enough constructed that I can see why little kids would. (At least until they start walking around the house waggling their arms and yelling "Coming Will Robinson.!") The makers of giant foam rubber rocks never had it so good as when Lost in Space was in production. And, like Mission Impossible or Doctor Who, the theme music can burrow into your brain and stay there for days. A great series.
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The Batman
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I'm glad your showing no bias in your comparisons of LOST IN SPACE and STAR TREK, LG. :rolleyes:

Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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Laughing Gravy
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I am showing no bias!

I am also amazed at Bonga's admission... can you IMAGINE having only ONE TV series on DVD, and it's Lost in Space?!~?
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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The Batman
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I'm just funnin' ya.

Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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marlin lee
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Laughing Gravy
Sep 24 2007, 11:27 PM
I am also amazed at Bonga's admission... can you IMAGINE having only ONE TV series on DVD, and it's Lost in Space?!~?

Having only one series on DVD is hard to imagine. But I can imagine it being Lost in Space.
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Laughing Gravy
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Okay, who's up for episode two of Lost in Space: "The Derelict". (When I read this episode's title, I pictured a drunken space alien, lying in some cosmic gutter, but NO.)

We've moved ahead five days; it's now Oct. 21, 1997, and John Robinson is still floating 'round outside the Jupiter II. His wife manages to get a lifeline to him, but believe it or not, the darned ship's DOOR won't open. Now, I'm thinking that this whole space project was clearly some sort of congressional pork barrel thing, 'cause NOTHING on this ship has worked right so far except the robot, and THAT was easily programmed to try 'n' kill the crew.

Where were we? Oh, yeah. There's a comet heading for the ship, and so John and Maureen have got to get their asses back inside. Judy, Penny, and Will look concerned through the portal. This goes on for a full 10 minutes; I hope the whole episode isn't this dull. Really, this is stupifying.

Eventually, with the help of Major West, they get the airlock open and they can breath safely and we can wake up. The episode takes a while to get going again after that mess, with Don and Judy flirting with each other and Dr. Smith trying to sneakily reprogram the robot so he can use it to force the Robinsons to change course from Alpha Centauri to Earth, which doesn't make a lot of sense since the Robinsons have no idea where EITHER destination is right now, thank you very much. Prof. Robinson catches him fiddling with the robot (or, as Dr. Smith refers to it, "creating new pathways in cybernetics") and confines him to quarters. Incidentally, it seems as though everybody on the ship sleeps in the same tin-foil outfits they wear all day.

Eventually, they spot a strange, huge craft floating in space, and from here on in this episode becomes really good; those of you who tuned in midway through are gonna think the whole show was great. This "ghost ship" opens up (frankly, it looks like a female sex organ) and swallows the Jupiter II. Whole. In a neat idea, the craft is powered by a strange crystalline mass that looks like shiny cobwebs hanging everywhere. Eventually, the Robinsons discover the inhabitants, big testes-looking creatures that communicate via electricity. When Dr. Smith attempts to communicate via shooting one of them, all heck breaks loose and our hardy band of space explorers barely escape with their lives. Traveling through space again, they discover a strange planet, and decide to land there, over Maureen's objections, to repair their ship. What dangers and mysteries await them? We can only guess. Or, wait a week. To be continued!
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Stony Brooke da Mesquiteer
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After 40 years, I remember this episode. I am going to buy this 1st season and watch it with my son. I've seen some godawful films lately so what the hay.
It's like Rodney King used to say, "Can't we all get a bong."
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Laughing Gravy
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Episode three: "Island in the Sky"

I can't help but wonder if the scripts weren't written for a half-hour show and expanded to an hour. There's an awful lot of nothing going on again this week before the good stuff happens.

By the way, Stony, the opening you describe comes later in the series: the first season, we get what looks like a big flat Rubik's cube, that turns into cartoon figures tethered together. The show had two themes; I like the second one better (and that's the one they used a few years ago, when they released a Lost in Space feature film).

Well, he IS a doctor dialog from Dr. Smith: “I’m afraid we have a very sick robot on our hands.”

Robotoid Fact of the Week: The Robot is programmed to know the complete works of Shakespeare. And Samuel Butler, as well!

Although they mention 3-D chess in episode one, here, they're just playing good ol' regular chess.

Oh, yeah, the plot. John Robinson visits the strange planet, and disappears, so the rest of them (after sticking that stinker Dr. Smith in deep freeze storage where he belongs) land the Jupiter 2 (well, crash it, actually) and go looking for him. Not only do they find him, but Penny acquires a pet, an adorable little chimp with Spock ears that she names "Debby". That is, she names the chimp, not its ears, Debby. Anyway, that li'l monkey is one of the most fondly remembered members of the cast (by me, anyway) and I love the way it says "Bloop! Bloop!"

Equipment Malfunction of the week: John's "parajets" that are supposed to slow his descent to Planet X don't work. I swear, NASA equipped the Jupiter 2 at Radio Shack.

As it turns out, Dr. Smith interfered with the parajets in an attempt to remove Dr. Robinson and pave the way for a return to Earth. I apologize for casting aspersions on Radio Shack.

TERRIFIC special effect this week: what appears to be the Jupiter 2 over Monument Valley. Just like those moon rockets in Republic serials.

This week, we're introduced to another cool feature on the show (if anything, cooler even than a monkey with Spock ears): the Chariot, which -- while no Batmobile -- is one of the coolest vehicles on 1960s TV.

Smith gets thawed out, and programs the robot to kill everybody (save Don West, the only monkey that can pilot the ship) whenever it finds them away from the others: “When unessential personnel are found alone, destroy.” Well, it doesn't take long for the Robot to find Will off by himself, and the big metal Quisling shoots electric beams out of claws at the poor kid. Continued next week.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Laughing Gravy
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Well, after a month we're back to find out how Will Robinson did against the renegade robot with episode four, "There Were Giants in the Earth", originally broadcast on October 6, 1965. It was up against The Virginian on NBC and Ozzie & Harriet and Patty Duke on ABC, in case you were wondering.

The episode begins with John Robinson and that hothead, Major West, chewing out Dr. Smith for programming the robot to wreak havoc. Smith plays dumb, and just as he says, "What POSSIBLE trouble could that friendly servant of man..." he's interrupted by Will's screaming over the intercom, "DAD! HELP! IT'S THE ROBOT!" As dad hotfoots it to the rescue (which is unnecessary, actually, inasmuch as Will finally remembered to imitate Smith's voice again and calm that clinking, clanking collection of carbonized carcinogens down) Major West offers to beat the crap out of Dr. Smith, drawing Smith's retort: "Stand back, you ruffian, or I'll ring on your noggin like the Canterbury chimes!" Yes, this seems to be the episode in which Smith goes from being a homicidal foreign agent to being an annoying comic relief villain.

With the robot once again deactivated, the next morning everybody is at work programming something, planting the garden, or setting up the force field – everybody except Smith, who’s going from group to group boasting about how helpful he’s been to the other groups. What a card, that guy. He insists on helping Judy and Penny in the garden, finally, by planting the seeds in the foreign soil, over their protestations, which leads to colossal exploding pea pods, something you don’t see every day.

Pertinent observation #1: “Vegetation-wise at least, we are on a most hostile planet.” – Dr. Smith.

The guys take the chariot, one of the coolest things about the show (it looks like a big glass aquarium on tank treads) to look around, and intrepid explorers that they are, none of them notice the giant footprints that dot the landscape. Eventually, though, Don and John come across a gigantic Cyclops with buck teeth and acne. They’re trapped in a cave and about to be devoured until Will comes and rescues them by shooting the Cyclops with a phaser (or whatever they call those ray guns on this show). The peril properly dispatched with, they all have a nice campfire and Will plays the guitar and sings “Greensleeves” and no, I’m not making that up. Don and Judy are definitely looking at each other as if they’re wondering if there’s a cheap motel on this planet, and those raging hormones are picked up by the rest of the family (and probably the robot, too).

Pertinent observation #2: “With the population implosion around here, we can’t really ask them to play the field, now, can we?” – John Robinson.

Pretty soon, it’s 150 degrees below zero, which breaks up the picnic, and the Robinsons are forced to flee south as fast as the chariot will take them. First, though, John has to go look for Penny, who has wandered off in search of Debby the Spock-like ape, giving John an excuse to use something else really cool about this show, one of those rocketpacks best remembered for being ridden by Sean Connery in Thunderball. The family united and fleeing for their lives, Smith decides he’ll stick it out on the Jupiter 2 and let them go on their merry way, thank you very much. May not have been a bad cherce, because the Cyclops shows up again and starts throwing boulders. The Robinsons duck into a handy cave, wherein lies a castle, but Don and Judy and Will and Penny get trapped in a secret passage and before John and Maureen can dig them out an earthquake or something hits (maybe the giant Cyclops farted) and everything collapses and we’ll have to wait until next week to find out what happens. Same time, same channel.

Interesting credit #1: Remember last episode, when I mentioned that the special flying effects reminded me of Republic serials? Well, this week I noticed that the effects are by – Howard Lydecker. Yes, really.

Interesting credit #2: This week’s episode was directed by Leo Penn, Sean’s dad. I wonder if that’s Sean playing the pointy-eared monkey? Nah, probably not.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Inspector Carr
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Actually it was his brother Chris's first role (R.I.P)
"Life is a Crapshoot however you need a pair of dice to participate"
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Greypilgrim
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All I remember about Lost In Space is that June Lockhart looked hotter in that skin-tight space suit than Barbara Billingsley did in a pearl necklace. B)

It WAS really a toss up between the two. :rolleyes:

Yeah, I had thing for "older" women when I was younger. :D ;)

But...........now that I'm "THERE", myself.......it ain't so much fun anymore. :( ;)

Nowadays, an older woman would be................dust. :lol: :rolleyes:
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Black Tiger
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The girl I could never get my eyes past was Marta Kristen. In retrospect, probably not a very good actress, but hey, it didn't matter. There were other actors aboard. She was just there to look pretty.

I remember the monsters looked pretty cheezy especially towards the end. They reused some of the alien monsters in the later days of Time Tunnel (at least I think the Tunnel came later). It was funny to see the recycling of props and costumes Irwin Allen would use across his shows.
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Laughing Gravy
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I've met Ms. Kristen; she's a doll. Prior to Lost in Space, she played a mermaid in Beach Blanket Bingo!
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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