Lost in Space
Lost in Space is a science fiction TV series produced between 1965 and 1968 by television producer Irwin Allen. Allen based his space adventure series on a Gold Key comic book Space Family Robinson, as well as the classic adventure novel Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. more...
The show initially experienced some legal challenges. Ib Melchior, a notable science fiction writer, had conceived what was essentially the same idea (but with different characters) years before either the television series or the comic book. He had called his version "Space Family Robinson", which was also the original production name for Lost in Space. Although legal action went nowhere, Ib Melchior was hired as a consultant on the "Lost in Space" movie as a way of recognizing his original idea.
Lost in Space followed Allen's basic philosophy that TV was supposed to be fun, as opposed to educational. His series, including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants, were all very fast paced and exciting, often at the expense of logic.
The series ran for three seasons on CBS, from 1965 to 1968 and it was famously bought by the network after they rejected a competing sci-fi series that was offered to them — Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek.
The first season was filmed in black & white and was more serious in tone when compared to the two seasons that followed. It chronicled the adventures of the Robinson family, a group of Earth pioneers whose mission to colonize Alpha Centauri almost ends in disaster after a saboteur attempts to destroy their space ship.
The second and third seasons were produced in color, and were more whimsical and fantastic in tone.
Characters and Cast
- Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams) is the commander of the Robinson family expedition. He is an expert in astrophysics and applied planetary geology as well as an ordained Minister.
- Doctor Maureen Robinson (June Lockhart) is John's wife, and a trained biochemist. She is the mother of their children, Judy, Penny and Will.
- Major Don West (Mark Goddard) is the pilot of the expedition's spacecraft, the Jupiter 2. Don is romantically interested in Judy, and inherently distrustful of Dr Smith.
- Judy Robinson (Marta Kristen), Penny Robinson (Angela Cartwright) and Will Robinson (Bill Mumy) are the three children in the expedition. Of the three, Will is the most noteworthy - he is the youngest, brightest and a particular friend of Dr. Smith and the Robot.
- Doctor Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), ostensibly the mission's doctor of environmental and intergalactic psychology (but in fact an enemy agent) is in charge of preparing the Robinson party. His attempt to sabotage the mission saw him stranded aboard as a "reluctant stowaway", from which the pilot episode takes its title.
- The Robot, a Model B-9 Environmental-Control Robot, which had no given name. However, in the third-season episode entitled "The Time Merchant," it was shown in its packing crate, and the crate was labeled ONE General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental ROBOT, with the G, U, N, T, and E, and all letters in ROBOT in red capital letters, while all the other letters were black; some have suggested that this was supposed to convey the acronym GUNTER; see these screen shots. The Robot was designed by Robert Kinoshita, and performed by Bob May in a suit built by Bob Stewart, with voice by Dick Tufeld, who was also the series' narrator.
Bill Mumy has remained active in show business and comics. For several years he scripted an authorized Lost in Space comic book for Innovation Comics. The intention was that the comic reflect the more serious tone of the first season episodes, but this was somewhat undercut by artwork that sexualized Judy and Penny, prompting some exasperated notes from Mumy in the editorial pages. The comic also established a romantic triangle between Judy, Penny (now depicted as someone in her late teens), and Don that was not present in the original series. Innovation was unable to sustain the comic beyond a handful of issues.
Jonathan Harris portrayed Professor Jones in the animated series Freakazoid. The name, the voice, and the lines he was given were obvious riffs on Dr. Smith role.
The Robot has inspired a dedicated fan base, many striving to build their own: B9 Robot Builders Club Since the series conclusion, hobbyists around the world have built at least 15 detailed full-size replicas of the Robot, although the original outfit still exists in deteriorated condition.
The first, unaired pilot included neither Doctor Smith nor the Robot.
The general public now most recognizes Lost In Space via the memorable, oft-repeated warning lines of the Robot, "Warning! Warning!" and, of course, "Danger, Will Robinson!".
Although it retains a cult following, the science-fiction community often points to Lost In Space as an example of TV's bad record at producing science-fiction (perhaps overlooking the series' deliberate fantasy elements), comparing it unfavorably to its supposed rival, Star Trek. Ironically, Lost In Space was a ratings success — unlike Star Trek, which received poor ratings during its original network TV run.
Many of the series' best episodes revolved around the theme of love as a source of strength when confronting hostile aliens or other threats to the family's survival. As John Robinson says at the end of season one, "Love . . . In all the worlds and galaxies of this universe, there is nothing stronger."
Lost In Space starred several well-known actors. Guy Williams was already a major TV star and had played the lead role in the successful series Zorro; June Lockhart was a well-known actress and had appeared in numerous films since the 1940s, including Sergeant York, Meet Me in St. Louis and The Yearling; she was also well-known to American TV audiences for her role in the Lassie TV series. Angela Cartwright had recently played one of the Von Trapp children in the classic film musical The Sound Of Music and Billy Mumy was one of America's best-known child actors. He was a TV regular by age six and prior to Lost In Space he had already appeared in at least six feature films and had many notable TV credits including Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone, where he starred in the classic episode "It's A Good Life", playing a child who suddenly develops terrifying psychokinetic powers. As an adult he was a regular cast member in the Babylon 5 TV series, and one guest appearance on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a spin-off of Lost In Space's rival.
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