When the stability of Priplanus, the planet that has been
their home for the last year, is threatened by an unscrupulous
prospector, the crew of the Jupiter 2 must prepare
for a hasty blast-off. Free from the planet's gravity at last,
will the Robinson clan be able to find their way to Alpha
Centauri, or back to Earth, as Dr Smith would prefer, or will
they remain lost in space...?
Well, of course it's the latter, otherwise this series wouldn't
be called Lost in Space!
the escape from Priplanus comes as a breath of fresh air at
the outset of this season, which was the first to be made
in colour. I have a fondness for the space-bound adventures
that traditionally kicked off each season of Lost in Space
(presumably to justify the show's title and win over new viewers),
even though one of them, Wild Adventure, isn't exactly
a classic. The Ghost Planet fares rather better, with
an apparent voice from Earth proving to be far from friendly,
and the Robot (voiced by Bob May) seeming to rebel against
his human masters.
However, the fourth episode, Forbidden World, brings
the Jupiter 2 crashing back to terra firma for the
remainder of the season, as it lands on a nameless planet
that looks remarkably similar to the last one they were on!
episodes are as simultaneously enjoyable and risible as Forbidden
World, which on the one hand boasts some hilarious moments
with the cowardly Dr Smith (Jonathan Harris) and a paranoid
alien called Tiabo (Wally Cox), while on the other presenting
some enormous lapses of logic. Despite the supposedly poisonous
atmosphere outside the spaceship, the crew of the Jupiter
have no qualms about opening both the inner and outer airlock
doors at the same time. Perhaps their force field can keep
the gases at bay, but that doesn't explain why Will (Billy
Mumy) elects to leave the ship without the protection of any
breathing apparatus. Later on the boy takes his life into
his own hands again, by failing to remain a safe distance
away from the explosive Dr Smith.
duffers include Rocket to Earth which, despite the
presence of The Munsters' Al Lewis, never really gets
going. The rocket doesn't enter into the plot until the last
15 minutes of the show.
in Space is similarly mundane, and is one of several episodes
that transplants elements from Earth's history into an interplanetary
context. Mutiny might be best described as Mutiny
on the Bounty in space, while The Thief From Outer
Space apes The Arabian Nights, West of Mars
harks back to Westerns, The Questing Beast plays on
the archetype of the dragon-slaying knight, The Space Vikings
deals with - yes, you guessed it - Vikings, and Treasure
of the Lost Planet features an old-fashioned search for
a pirate's treasure.
sheer number of these not particularly futuristic storylines
does become rather tiresome, though Treasure of the Lost
Planet is easily the best of the bunch, aided by the return
of Captain A P Tucker (Albert Salmi) from the first season's
Space Pirate. West of Mars is also quite enjoyable,
due to a dual performance by Jonathan Harris as Dr Smith and
his double, a vicious gunslinger called Zeno. This instalment
also features some very odd "open-air" (though still studio-bound)
sets, which predate the two-dimensional illusory Wild West
depicted in the Star Trek episode Spectre of the
talking of odd, a Special Award for Weirdness should go to
Wreck of the Robot for its sinister hat-wearing, stocking-faced,
whispering aliens. They reappear in the season finale, The
Galaxy Gift, though it is unclear whether they are supposed
to be of the same race of beings (none of the regular characters
comment on the resemblance) or whether this is just a case
of cost-cutting costume reuse. (The finale also reuses the
Keema and frog-alien masks from The Golden Man.) The
Astral Traveler is almost as strange, featuring as it
does a ghost called Hamish (Sean McClory) and a monster called
Angus (Dawson Palmer).
touted as a fan favourite, The Golden Man isn't all
it's cracked up to be. It gives a decent-sized role to Penny
(Angela Cartwright), who befriends a frog-like alien (Ronald
Gans), just as she befriended the disembodied creature in
the first season's My Friend, Mr Nobody and later assists
the dragon Gundemar (voiced by Sue England) in The Questing
Beast. However, its moral of not judging people by their
looks is very simplistic (Doctor Who's contemporaneous
Galaxy 4 has a markedly similar plot) and is undermined
by the fact that the evil Keema (Dennis Patrick) proves to
be very ugly indeed. (There's a thought: maybe he's called
Keema because he resembles curried meat!) The presence of
a pathetically unthreatening minefield of beach balls further
detracts from this episode.
for me the real highlights of this season are the aforementioned
The Ghost Planet, as well as The Prisoners of Space,
The Android Machine, The Dream Monster, The
Cave of the Wizards, Revolt of the Android,
Trip Through the Robot, The Phantom Family and
The Mechanical Men.
being a clip show, The Prisoners of Space is a refreshingly
different episode. The Robinsons face the unusual threat of
being put on trial for breaking some galactic laws. The clips
in question, all taken from the gripping opening two episodes
of the first season, actually make a useful reminder to viewers
of the story so far.
The Android Machine introduces us to the android Verda
(Dee Hartford) and the Celestial Department Store, elements
that would make return appearances in Revolt of the Android
and The Toymaker respectively. This episode also boasts
some hilarious lines from the Robot, one of which made me
laugh out loud!
Dream Monster succeeds in involving the entire cast, by
depriving most of the Jupiter crew of their human qualities.
Similarly, The Phantom Family gives several members
of the cast the opportunity to play something different, as
personnel are replaced by android duplicates. The latter episode
also features one of the series' most impressive alien masks:
that of Lemnoc (Alan Hewitt, sounding remarkably like Alec
Cave of the Wizards is a moving story of alien possession,
which is marred only by Jonathan Harris' habit of pronouncing
the alien Dranconian's name as "Draconian". This episode also
features some sinister scenes in and around a phoney Jupiter
Through the Robot gives us a Fantastic Voyage-style
view of the Robot's inner workings, which include a heart-like
pump and a mechanical immune system. The tense final act is
only slightly spoiled by some silliness regarding the Robot's
return to normal size (as if a tree trunk could impede the
progress of shrinking metal).
There's further Robot appeal in The Mechanical Men,
in which the bubble-headed booby is asked to lead an army
of diminutive robots (actually Lost in Space toys produced
by Remco) and undergoes a personality swap with Dr Smith.
my absolute favourite episode from this season is Revolt
of the Android, which sees the return of Verda and introduces
a super-android killing machine called IDAK (Don Matheson).
As well as undergoing a similarly heart-warming humanisation
process to the one that Verda went through in The Android
Machine, the character of IDAK also spoofs the appearance
and abilities of Superman. How the production team avoided
getting sued by DC Comics is beyond me!
screen time is even less evenly shared among the cast than
it was during Season One. Aside from The Deadly Games of
Gamma 6, which focuses on John Robinson (Guy Williams),
and The Golden Man, which gives a prominent role to
Penny, the series is dominated by Dr Smith, Will and the Robot.
Marta Kristen as Judy suffers the most, only coming close
to any kind of prominent role in A Visit to Hades.
character who develops the most during this season is undoubtedly
the Robot, who proves to be capable of deception in The
Ghost Planet and feels jealous of Verda's superior abilities
in The Android Machine. Evidently his sense of inferiority
drives him to improve himself, since he later demonstrates
a degree of telepathy in Wreck of the Robot and is
able to detect the true nature of the humanoids (human-like
androids) in The Phantom Family.
Despite inequalities between the ensemble cast, this is a
fine collection of episodes. And there are so many of them:
thirty 49-minute episodes for less than 50 quid!
a few persistent scratches on certain sections of film, each
instalment is well presented - and very colourful! Like the
original series of Star Trek, Lost in Space
treated the advent of colour television like a kid with a
new toy, really emphasising those bold, primary colours. In
a few instances, perhaps the episodes have been re-mastered
too well - for example, you can quite clearly see the
wires holding up the spaceship in Forbidden World and
an operator's shadow inside the android disposal device in
Revolt of the Android.
special features, such as they are, comprise short radio interviews
with Guy Williams, June Lockhart (Maureen Robinson) and Jonathan
Harris from 1966, which are accompanied by automatically advancing
stills galleries. It's a pity that the stills couldn't have
been selected to better accompany the subjects discussed in
the interviews. That's it for features, but when you have
so many hours' worth of episodes to watch, who needs extras?
Season Three left to go now.
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