SPÉCIAL TÉLÉSÉRIES CULTES ANNÉES '60 ET '70: Premier épisode de la série Lost in Space 1965 (Perdus dans l'espace) avec Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Bill Mumy et jonathan Harris. V.o. anglaise.
La série s'est inspirée de la bande dessinée The Space Family Robinson publiée en décembre 1962 par Gold Key Comics, et du roman Le Robinson suisse (Der Schweizerische Robinson) de Johann David Wyss (1812).
CBS et 20th Century Fox obtinrent une entente avec Gold Key Comics leur permettant d'utiliser le nom Robinson pour l'émission. Par la suite, la télésérie évolue avec des histoires séparées de la série de comic book.
En 1997, alors que la Terre est surpeuplée, la famille Robinson a été choisie pour se rendre dans le système d'Alpha Centauri afin d'y fonder une colonie. Embarqués à bord du vaisseau Jupiter II qui a été saboté par le Docteur Smith, ils se retrouvent perdus dans l'espace…
- Guy Williams (VF : Jean Berger) : John Robinson
- June Lockhart : Maureen Robinson
- Marta Kristen : Judy Robinson
- Bill Mumy : Will Robinson
- Angela Cartwright : Penny Robinson
- Mark Goddard (en) (VF : Serge Lhorca) : Don West
- Jonathan Harris (VF : René Bériard) : Docteur Zachary Smith
- Bob May (en) : Le Robot
- Professeur John Robinson : commandant de l'expédition et le père de famille. Il est un expert en astrophysique et en géologie planétaire appliquée.
- Docteur Maureen Robinson : épouse de John et biochimiste qualifiée. Elle est la mère de leurs enfants, Judy, Penny et Will.
- Major Don West : pilote du vaisseau spatial de l'expédition, le Jupiter 2. Don est attiré par Judy, et fondamentalement méfiant envers le Dr Smith. Dans le pilote original, Don West était aussi un astrophysicien et un expert en géologie interplanétaire.
- Judy Robinson : fille aînée des Robinson. Elle aurait voulu faire une carrière dans le théâtre musical sur Terre, mais a finalement accepté de rejoindre sa famille dans la mission Alpha Centauri.
- Will Robinson : enfant surdoué en électronique et le plus intéressant des enfants Robinson. Il est le plus jeune, le plus intelligent et un bon ami du Dr Smith et du robot.
- Docteur Zachary Smith : un soi-disant spécialiste en environnement et en psychologie intergalactique et colonel des Space Corps, il est en fait un agent ennemi. Il était chargé de la partie médicale de la mission pendant sa préparation. Sa tentative manquée de sabotage l'a fait se retrouver passager clandestin malgré lui sur le Jupiter 2, d'où le titre du premier épisode (Reluctant Stowaway). Le Dr Smith, personnage plutôt sinistre dans les premiers épisodes, s'est transformé peu à peu en un personnage comique et lâche, qui ne cessait de se disputer avec le robot du vaisseau. La présence du Dr Smith à bord a dévié la course du vaisseau, évitant aux occupants un crash fatal avec un astéroïde inattendu. Pour cette raison, les Robinson lui en sont reconnaissants, malgré les innombrables difficultés qu'il leur cause par ailleurs.
- Le Robot : c'est un robot de contrôle environnemental modèle B-9, sans autre nom. Cependant, on voit sa caisse d'emballage dans l'épisode The Time Merchant de la 3e saison et l'étiquette indique en noir ONE General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental ROBOT, avec les lettres G, U, N, T, E, et toutes celles du mot ROBOT en majuscules rouges, d'où l'opinion avancée par certains auteurs qu'il aurait dû porter en guise de nom l'acronyme GUNTER1. Le robot a été conçu par Robert Kinoshita et réalisé par Bob May dans un costume construit par Bob Stewart. Sa voix était celle de Dick Tufeld, le narrateur par ailleurs de la série.
- Debbie : animal de compagnie de Penny. Une créature trouvée sur la planète qui faisait sans cesse des « bloop » (bruits produits par effets spéciaux électroniques), interprété par un chimpanzé avec un chapeau en fourrure simulant une tête pointue avec des oreilles de forme particulier.
Lost in Space is an American science fiction television series created and produced by Irwin Allen. The series follows the adventures of a pioneering family of space colonists who struggle to survive in a strange and often hostile universe after their ship was sabotaged and thrown off course. The show ran for three seasons, with 83 episodes airing between 1965 and 1968. The first season was filmed in black and white, with the second and third seasons filmed in color.
Although the original concept (depicted in the unaired 1965 pilot episode) centered on the Robinson family, many later story lines focused primarily on Dr. Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris. Smith and the Robot were both absent from the unaired pilot, as the addition of their characters was only decided upon once the series had been commissioned for production.
Originally written as an utterly evil (if careless) saboteur, Smith gradually became the troublesome, self-centered, incompetent character who provides the comic relief for the show and causes much of the conflict and the misadventures. In the unaired pilot, what caused the group to become lost in space was a chance encounter with a meteor storm, but in the first aired episode it was Smith's unplanned presence on the ship that sends it off course into the meteor field, and his sabotage which causes the Robot to accelerate the ship into hyperdrive. Smith is thus the key to the story.
In 1962 the first appearance of a space-faring Robinson family occurred in a comic book published by Gold Key Comics. The Space Family Robinson, who were scientists aboard Earth's "Space Station One", are swept away in a cosmic storm in the comic's second issue. These Robinsons were scientist father Craig, scientist mother June, early teens Tim (son) and Tam (daughter), along with pets Clancy (dog) and Yakker (parrot). Space Station One also boasted two spacemobiles for ship-to-planet travel.
The television show launched three years later, in 1965, and during its run CBS and 20th Century Fox reached an agreement with Gold Key Comics that allowed the usage of the name "Robinson" on the TV show; in return, the comic was allowed to append "- Lost In Space" to its title, with the potential for the TV show to propel additional sales of the comic.
The astronaut family of Dr. John Robinson, accompanied by an Air Force/Space Corps pilot and a robot, set out in the year 1997 from an overpopulated Earth in the spaceship Jupiter 2 to travel to a planet circling the star Alpha Centauri with hopes of colonizing it.
The Jupiter 2 mission is sabotaged by Dr. Zachary Smith — an agent for an (unnamed) foreign government — who slips aboard the spaceship and reprograms the robot to destroy the ship and crew. However, when he is trapped aboard, his excess weight alters the craft's flight path and places it directly in the path of a massive meteor storm. Smith manages to save himself by prematurely reviving the crew from suspended animation. The ship survives, but consequent damage caused by Smith's earlier sabotage of the robot leaves them lost in space. In the third episode the Jupiter 2 crashlands on an alien world, later identified by Will as Priplanus, where they spend the rest of the season and survive a host of adventures. Smith, whom Allen had originally intended to write out, remains through all three seasons, as a source of comedic cowardice and villainy, exploiting the eternally forgiving nature of Professor Robinson. Smith was liked by the trusting Will, and tolerated by the women, but he was disliked by both the Robot and the suspicious Major Don West.
At the start of the second season the repaired Jupiter 2 launches into space once more, to escape the destruction of Priplanus following a series of cataclysmic earthquakes, but in the fourth episode the Robinsons crash-land on a strange new world, to become planet-bound again for another season. This replicated the format of the first season, but now the focus of the series was more on humor than on action/adventure, as evidenced by the extreme silliness of Dr. Smith amidst a plethora of unlikely aliens who began appearing on the show, often of a whimsical fantasy-oriented nature. One of these colorful visitors even turned out to be Smith's own cousin, intent on swindling him out of a family inheritance with the assistance of a hostile gambling machine. A new theme tune was recorded by Warren Barker for the second season, but it was decided to retain the original.
In the third season, a major format change was introduced, to bring the series back to its roots as solid adventure, by allowing the Robinsons to travel to more planets. The Jupiter 2 was now allowed to freely travel space, visiting a new world each week, as the family attempt to return to Earth or to reach their original desination in the Alpha Centauri system. A newly built "Space Pod", that mysteriously appeared as though it had always been there, provided a means of transportation between the ship and passing planets, as well as being a plot device to launch various escapades. This season had a dramatically different opening credits sequence and a new theme tune - which, like the original, was composed by John Williams - as part of the show's new direction.
Following the format of Allen's first television series, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, unlikely fantasy-oriented adventure stories were dreamed up that had little to do with either serious science or serious science fiction. The stories had little realism, with, for instance, explosions happening randomly, merely to cover an alien's arrival or departure, or sometimes merely the arrival of some alien artifact.
Props and monsters were regularly recycled from other Irwin Allen shows, as a matter of budgetary convenience, and the same alien would appear on Voyage one week and Lost in Space the next. A sea monster outfit which had featured on Voyage would get a spray paint job for its Lost in Space appearance, while space monster costumes would be reused on Voyage as sea monsters. The clear round plastic pen holder used as a control surface in the episode "The Derelict" turned up regularly throughout the show's entire run.
Spacecraft models, too, were routinely re-used. The foreboding derelict ship from season 1 was redressed to become the Vera Castle in season 3, which, in turn, was reused in several episodes (and flipped upside down for one of them). The Fuel Barge from season 2 became a Space Lighthouse in season 3, with a complete re-use of the effects footage from the earlier story. The derelict ship was used again in season 3, with a simple color change. Likewise the alien pursuer's ship in "The Sky Pirate", which was re-used in the episode "Deadliest of the Species". Moreover, the footage of Hapgood's ship launching into space in episode 6 of season 1 was re-used for virtually every subsequent launch in the following three years, no matter what shape the ship it supposedly represented had had on the ground.
In October 1997, 32 years in the future from the perspective of viewers in 1965, the United States is about to launch one of history's great adventures: man's colonization of deep space. The Jupiter 2 (called Gemini 12 in the unaired pilot episode), a futuristic saucer-shaped spacecraft which owed its design to the Fifties sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, stands on its launch pad undergoing final preparations. Its mission is to take a single family on a five-and-a-half-year journey (altered from 98 years in the unaired pilot) to a planet orbiting the nearest star, Alpha Centauri (the pilot show had referred to the planet itself as Alpha Centauri), which space probes have revealed possesses ideal conditions for human life.
The Robinson family, supposedly selected from two million volunteers for this mission, consisted of Professor John Robinson, played by Guy Williams, his wife, Maureen, played by June Lockhart, their children, Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Cartwright), and Will (Billy Mumy). They are accompanied by their pilot, U.S. Space Corps Major Donald West (Mark Goddard), who is trained to fly the ship when the time comes for the eventual landing. Initially the Robinsons and Major West will be in freezing tubes for the voyage, with the tubes opening when the spacecraft approached its destination. Unless there is a problem with the ship's navigation or guidance system during the voyage, Major West was only to take the controls during the final approach and landing on the destination planet, while the Robinsons were to strap themselves into contour couches on the lower deck for the landing.
Other nations are racing to colonize space, and they would stop at nothing, not even sabotage, to thwart the United States's effort. It turns out that Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), Alpha Control's doctor, and later supposedly a psychologist and environmental control expert, is moonlighting as a secret agent for one of those competing nations. After disposing of a guard who catches him on board the spacecraft, Smith reprograms the Jupiter 2's B-9 environmental control robot, voiced by Dick Tufeld, to destroy critical systems on the spaceship eight hours after launch. Smith, however, unintentionally becomes trapped aboard at launch and his extra weight throws the Jupiter 2 off course, causing it to encounter a meteor storm. This, plus the robot's rampage which causes the ship to prematurely engage its hyperdrive, causes the expedition to become hopelessly lost in the infinite depths of outer space.
The Robinsons are regularly placed in danger by Smith, whose selfish actions and laziness endanger the family frequently. After the first half of the first season, Smith's role assumes less sinister overtones, although he continues to display many character flaws. In "The Time Merchant" Smith shows he actually does care about the Robinsons, when he travels back in time to the day of the Jupiter 2 launch, with the hope of changing his own fate by not boarding the ship, so allowing the Robinsons to start the mission as originally planned. However, he learns that without his weight altering the ship's course, the Jupiter 2 will be destroyed by an uncharted asteroid. So he sacrifices his chance to stay on his beloved Earth, electing to re-board the ship, thus saving the lives of the family and continuing his role amongst them as the reluctant stowaway.
The fate of the Robinsons, Don West and Dr. Smith is never resolved, as the series unexpected cancellation left the Jupiter 2 and her crew literally on the junk-pile at the end of season three.
- Dr. John Robinson (Guy Williams): The expedition commander, a pilot, and the father of the Robinson children. He is an astrophysicist who also specializes in applied planetary geology.
- Dr. Maureen Robinson (June Lockhart): John's biochemist wife. Her role in the series is often to prepare meals, tend the garden, and help with light construction while adding a voice of compassion. Her counsel is sometimes the only thing that prevents the Robinsons from leaving Dr. Smith behind after some of his particularly heinous actions, because she find it unthinkable to condemn any human being to a life of total isolation from his own kind. Her status as a doctor is mentioned only in the first episode and in the second-season episode "The Astral Traveler."
- Major Don West (Mark Goddard): The military pilot of the Jupiter 2. He is Dr. Smith's intemperate and intolerant adversary. His mutual romantic interest with Judy was not developed beyond the first few episodes. In the un-aired pilot, "Doctor Donald West" was a graduate student astrophysicist and expert in interplanetary geology, rather than a military man.
- Judy Robinson (Marta Kristen): The oldest child of the Robinsons. She is about 19 years old at the outset of the series. In the unaired pilot, she is described as having given up a promising career in musical theater to go with her family instead.
- Penny Robinson (Angela Cartwright): The middle child. A 13-year-old in the first season, she loves animals and classical music. Early in the series, she acquires a chimpanzee-like alien pet with pointy ears that made one sound, "Bloop". While it is usually referred to by Will and Professor Robinson as the bloop, Penny named the creature "Debbie". Most of Penny's adventures have a fairy-tale quality, underscoring her innocence. She is described in the unaired pilot, "No Place To Hide", as having an IQ of 147 and an interest in zoology.
- Will Robinson (Billy Mumy): The youngest child. A precocious 9-year-old in the first season, he is a child prodigy in electronics and computer technology. Often, he is a friend to Smith when no one else is. Will is also the member of the family closest to the Robot.
- Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris): Acting as Alpha Control's flight surgeon in the first episode, he is later referred to as a Doctor of Intergalactic Environmental Psychology, expert in cybernetics, and an enemy agent (roles that are rarely mentioned after the initial episodes). His attempt to sabotage the mission strands him aboard the Jupiter 2 and results in it becoming lost.
- The Robot: The Robot is a Class M-3, Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot, which had no given name. Although a machine, endowed with superhuman strength and futuristic weaponry, he often displayed human characteristics, such as laughter, sadness, and mockery, as well as singing and playing a guitar. The Robot was performed by Bob May in a prop costume built by Bob Stewart. The voice was dubbed by Dick Tufeld, who was also the series' narrator. The Robot was designed by Robert Kinoshita, who was also the designer of the iconic Robby the Robot for the 1956 sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet. Robby appears in LIS #20 "War of the Robots", and the first episode of season three; "Condemned of Space".
By the end of the first season, the character of Smith is permanently established as a bungling, self-serving, greedy and manipulative coward. These character traits are magnified in subsequent seasons. His haughty bearing, and ever-present alliterative repartee, were staples of the character. While he and Major West repeatedly clashed over his goldbricking, or because of some villainy he had perpetrated, the Robot was usually the preferred victim of his barbed and acerbic wit.
Despite Harris being credited as a "Special Guest Star" on every episode, Smith became the pivotal character of the series. Harris was the last actor cast, with the others all having appeared in the unaired pilot. He was informed that he would "have to be in last position" in the credits. Harris voiced discomfort at this, and (with his continuation beyond the first few episodes still in doubt) suggested appearing in the last position as "Special Guest Star." After having "screamed and howled", Allen agreed. The show's writers expected that Smith would indeed be a temporary villain, who would only appear in the early episodes. Harris, on the other hand, hoped to stay longer on the show, but he found his character as written very boring, and feared it would quickly bore the audience too. Encouraged by Irwin Allen, the actor "began rewriting his lines and redefining his character", by playing Smith in an attention-getting, flamboyant style. Mumy recalls how, after he had learned his own lines, Harris would ask to rehearse with him using his own dialogue. "He truly, truly single-handledly created the character of Dr. Zachary Smith that we know," said Mumy. "This man we love-to-hate, a sniveling coward who would cower behind the little boy, 'Oh, the pain! Save me, William!' That's all him!" 
Technology and equipment
The crew had a variety of methods of transportation.
Their primary vehicle for space travel was the two-deck, nuclear powered Jupiter 2 flying saucer spacecraft (in the unaired pilot episode, the ship was named the Gemini 12 and consisted of a single deck). On the lower level were the atomic motors (which use "deutronium" for fuel), the living quarters (featuring Murphy beds), galley, laboratory, and the robot's compartment. On the upper level were the guidance control system and suspended animation "freezing tubes" necessary for non-relativistic interstellar travel. The two levels were connected by both an electric elevator and a fixed ladder. The Jupiter 2 explicitly had artificial gravity. Entrances / exits to the ship were via the main air-lock on the upper level, or via the landing struts from the lower deck, and, according to one season 2 episode, a back door. The spacecraft was also intended to serve as home to the Robinsons once it had landed on the destination planet orbiting Alpha Centauri. In one third season tale the power core of the Jupiter 2 is shown as absolutely enormous; however this may have been due to the plot of the episode, involving the travellers' fears being amplified to supply nourishment for an alien fear-vampire, causing the crew to lose touch with reality.
Shown only in episode 3 of season 1, "Para-jet" thrusters, a pair of units worn on the forearms, allowed a user to descend to a planet from the orbiting spaceship and, perhaps, back again to the ship.
The "Chariot" was an all-terrain, amphibious tracked vehicle which the crew used for ground transport when they were on a planet. As stated in episode 3 of season 1, the chariot existed in a dis-assembled state during flight, to be re-assembled once on the ground. The Chariot was actually an operational cannibalized version of the Thiokol Snowcat Spryte, with a Ford 170-cubic-inch (3 L) inline-6, 101 horsepower engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission including reverse. Test footage filmed of the Chariot for the first season of the series can be seen on YouTube.
Most of the Chariot's body panels were clear - including the roof and its dome-shaped "gun hatch". Both a roof rack for luggage and roof mounted "solar batteries" were accessible by exterior fixed ladders on either side of the vehicle. It had dual headlights and dual auxiliary area lights beneath the front and rear bumpers. The roof also had swivel-mounted, interior controllable spotlights located near each front corner, with a small parabolic antenna mounted between them. The Chariot had six bucket seats (three rows of two seats) for passengers. The interior featured retractable metallised fabric curtains for privacy, a seismograph, a scanner with infrared capability, a radio transceiver, a public address system, and a rifle rack that held four laser rifles vertically near the inside of the left rear corner body panel ("Island in the Sky").
Finally, the "Space Pod" was a small mini-spacecraft first shown in the third and final season, modeled on the Apollo Lunar Module . The Pod was used to travel from its bay in the Jupiter 2 to destinations either on a nearby planet or in space, and the pod apparently had artificial gravity and an auto-return mechanism.
For self-defense, the crew of the Jupiter 2 — including Will on occasion — had an arsenal of laser guns at their disposal, both slings-carried rifles and holstered pistols. (The first season's personal issue laser gun was a film prop modified from a toy semi-automatic pistol made by Remco.) The crew also employed a force field around the Jupiter 2 for protection while on alien planets. The force shield generator was able to protect the campsite but in one season 3 episode was able to shield the entire planet.
For communication, the crew used small transceivers to communicate with each other, the Chariot, and the ship. In "The Raft," Will improvised several miniature rockoons in an attempt to send an interstellar "message in a bottle" distress signal. In season 2 a set of relay stations was built to further extend communications while planet-bound.
Their environmental control Robot B-9 ran air and soil tests, was extremely strong, able to discharge strong electrostatic charges from his claws, could detect threats with his scanner and could produce a defensive smoke screen. The Robot could detect faint smells (in "One of Our Dogs is Missing") and could both understand speech as well as speak. In episode 8 ("Invaders From The Fifth Dimension"), the Robot claims the ability to read human minds by translating emitted thought waves back into words.
The Jupiter 2 had some unexplained advanced technology that simplified or did away with mundane tasks. The "auto-matic laundry" took seconds to clean, iron, fold, and package clothes in clear plastic bags. Similarly the "dishwasher" would clean, wash, and dry dishes in just seconds.
Some technology reflected recent real-world developments. Silver reflective space blankets, a then new invention developed by NASA in 1964, were used in "The Hungry Sea" (air date: October 13, 1965) and "Attack of the Monster Plants" (air date: December 15, 1965). The crew's spacesuits were made with aluminum-coated fabric, like NASA's Mercury spacesuits, and had Velcro fasteners, which NASA first used during the Apollo program (1961-1972).
While the crew normally grew a hydroponic garden on a planet as an intermediate step prior to cultivating the soil of a planet, they also had "protein pills" (a complete nutritional substitute for whole foods) in cases of emergency ("The Hungry Sea" (air date: October 13, 1965) and "The Space Trader" (air date: March 9, 1966)).
In 1965 Allen filmed a 50-minute black-and-white series pilot for Fox, which is usually known as "No Place to Hide" (although this title does not actually appear). After CBS accepted the series, the characters Smith and the Robot were added, the spaceship, originally named the Gemini 12, was redesigned by adding a second deck, interior equipment, and altering some consoles slightly, and was rechristened the Jupiter 2. For budget considerations, a good part of the footage included in the pilot episode was reused, being carefully worked into the early series episodes. CBS was also offered Star Trek at around the same time, but turned it down in favor of Lost in Space.
The Lost in Space television series was originally named Space Family Robinson. Allen was apparently unaware of the Gold Key comic of the same name and similar theme. Both were space versions of the novel Swiss Family Robinson with the title changed accordingly. Gold Key Comics did not sue Allen's production company or 20th Century Fox for copyright infringement, as Allen was expected to license the rights for comic book adaptations of his TV properties (as he already had with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), but instead changed the title of the comic to Lost in Space to take advantage of the series' prominence.
The first season emphasized adventure and chronicled the daily adventures that a pioneer family might experience if marooned on an alien world. The first half of season 1 included dealing with the planet's unusual orbit, resulting in extremes of cold and heat, and the Robinson party trekking around the rocky terrain and stormy inland oceans of Priplanus in the Chariot to avoid those extremes, encountering dangerous native plants and animals, and a few reasonably plausible off-world visitors. However, midway through the first season, following the two-parter "The Keeper", the format changed to a "Monster of the week" style, and the stories slipped, almost un-noticeably, from straight adventure to stories based on fantasy and fairy tales, with Will even awakening a sleeping princess with a kiss in a second season entry. Excepting special effect shots (which were reused in later seasons), the first season was filmed in black and white, while the second and third seasons were filmed in color.
Beginning in January 1966, ABC scheduled Batman in the same timeslot. To compete, Lost in Space Season 2 allegedly imitated Batman's campy style humor in order to compete against that show's enormous success. Bright outfits, over-the-top action, outrageous villains (Space Cowboys, Pirates, Knights, Vikings, Wooden Dragons, Amazon Feministas and even Bespectacled Beagles) came to the fore, in outlandish stories. The Robinsons were cloned by a colorful critter in an interestingly plodding story, and even attacked by a civilization of "Little Mechanical Men" resembling their Robot who wanted him for their leader in another tale. To make matters worse, stories giving all characters focus were sacrificed, in favor of a growing emphasis on Smith, Will, and the Robot - and Smith's change in character was not appreciated by the other actors. According to Billy Mumy, Mark Goddard and Guy Williams both disliked the shift away from serious science fiction.
The third season had more straight adventure, with the Jupiter 2 now functional and hopping from planet to planet, but the episodes still tended to be whimsical and to emphasize humor, including fanciful space hippies, more pirates, off-beat inter-galactic zoos, ice princesses and Lost in Space's beauty pageant.
One of the last episodes, "The Great Vegetable Rebellion" with actor Stanley Adams as Tybo, the talking carrot, took the show into pure fantasy. (Called "the most insipid and bizarre episode in television history", Kristen recalls that Goddard complained that "seven years of Stanislavski" method acting had culminated in his talking to a carrot.) A writer Irwin had employed to script a planned crossover between Lost in Space and Land of the Giants noted that Irwin seemed scared of the vegetable story, for it got pushed further and further to the back of the schedule, as the filming of season 3 progressed. The episode's writer, Peter Packer, who was one of the most prolific writers for Lost in Space and had penned some of the series best episodes, apologized to Harris for the script, stating he hadn't "one more damned idea in my head". During filming, Guy Williams and June Lockhart were written out of the next two episodes, at full pay, for laughing so much during the production. Astute viewers will notice the smirks as the actors, notably Mark Goddard, tried to contain themselves during the filming of the story. The show ended up on the Junk Planet a few episodes later. Interestingly, an earlier draft had a more sensible storyline, and an attempt to film a Llama in the episode was made, for Jonathan Harris once stated in an interview that he was unable to work with it because of its spitting. This seems verified by the listing of "Willoughby the llama" in the credits, so Irwin may have actually attempted to introduce his new series 4 regular here (see below). The Great Vegetable Rebellion appears to have directly inspired the "Rulers of Luton" episode on Space 1999 season 2. In 1977 TV Guide listed "The Great Vegetable Rebellion" at position #76 in its list of the '100 Best Episodes of All Time'.
The planned Season 4 may have kept up the fantasy trip, as it intended to introduce a telepathic purple alien llama called Willoughby (see above), as a new character, which apparently was to speak with an educated British accent, judging from a script written for the intended season 4, called "Malice in Wonderspace".
During the first two seasons, episodes concluded in a "live action freeze" anticipating the following week, with the cliff-hanger caption, "To be continued next week! Same time — same channel!" For the third season, the episode would conclude, immediately followed with a vocal "teaser" from the Robot (Dick Tufeld), warning viewers to "Stay tuned for scenes from next week's exciting adventure!" which would highlight the next episode, followed by the closing credits.
There was little ongoing plot continuity between episodes, except in larger goals: for example, to get enough fuel to leave the planet. However, there were some arcs in the show that allowed a small amount of continuity... occasionally. The first half of the first season had an overall arc, as the Robinsons slowly got used to Smith, and as the robot began his journey to being a thinking and self-aware character.
There were four sets of arc stories:
- The initial 5 episode "Mini-series".
- "The Keeper" 2 parter.
- The "Blast off into Space" / "Wild adventure" duo.
- The "Ghost Planet" / "Forbidden World" duo.
Additionally there were two arcs of linked stories:
- "My Friend Mr Nobody", "Invaders from the 5th Dimension" and "The Oasis" are all directly linked together in narrative flow.
- "Attack of the Monster Plants" and "Return From Outer Space" are linked through Smith's comments in the latter about Prof Robinson taking revenge on him for his actions in the former.
There were also sequels to some episodes ("Return from Outer Space" follows from events in "The Sky is falling"), and some recurring characters including Space Pirate Tucker, the android Verda, the Green Dimension girl Athena, and Farnum B (each of whom appears in two episodes), and Zumdish (who appears in three episodes).
In an odd moment of referential continuity "Two Weeks in Space" re-used the "Space Music" angle first shown in "Kidnapped in Space", while the "Celestial Department Store Ordering Machine" appeared in two episodes.
After cancellation, the show was successful in reruns and in syndication for many years, appearing on the USA Network in the mid-to-late 1980s, most recently on FX, Sci-Fi Channel, and ALN. It is currently available on Hulu streaming video, and is seen Saturday nights on MeTV.
There are fan clubs in honor of the series and cast all around the world, and many Facebook group pages connecting fans of the show to each other and to the show's stars.
Ratings, awards and popularity
Although it retains a following, the science-fiction community often points to Lost in Space as an example of early television's perceived poor record at producing science-fiction. The series' deliberate fantasy elements, a trademark of Irwin Allen productions, were perhaps overlooked as it drew comparisons to its supposed rival, Star Trek. However, Lost in Space was a mild ratings success, unlike Star Trek, which received very poor ratings during its original network television run. The more cerebral Star Trek never averaged higher than 52nd in the ratings during its three seasons, while Lost in Space finished season one with a rating of 32nd, season two in 35th place, and the third and final season in 33rd place.
Lost in Space also ranked third as one of the top five favorite new shows for the 1965-1966 season in a viewer TVQ poll (the others were The Big Valley, Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie and F Troop). Lost in Space was the favorite show of John F. Kennedy, Jr. while growing up in the 1960s.
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenbery insisted that the two shows could not be compared. He was more of a philosopher, while understanding that Irwin Allen was a storyteller. When asked about Lost in Space, Roddenberry acknowledged: "That show accomplishes what it sets out to do. Star Trek is not the same thing."
While Lost in Space was still reasonably successful, the show was unexpectedly cancelled in 1968 after 83 episodes. The final prime-time episode to be broadcast over CBS was a cast and crew favorite, a repeat from the second season, "A Visit to Hades", on September 11, 1968.
Lost in Space received a 1966 Emmy Award nomination for "Cinematography-Special photographic effects" but did not win, and again in 1968 for "Achievement in visual arts & makeup" but did not win. In 2005, it was nominated for a Saturn Award "Best DVD Retro Television Release", but did not win. In 2008 TVLand nominated and awarded the series for "Awesomest Robot."
Lost in Space is remembered, in part, for the Robot's oft-repeated lines such as "Warning! Warning!" and "That does not compute". Smith's frequent put-downs of the Robot were also popular, and Jonathan Harris was proud to talk about how he used to lie in bed at night dreaming them up for use on the show. "You Bubble-headed Booby!", "Cackling Cacophony", "Tin Plated Traitor", "Blithering Blatherskyte", and "Traitorous Transistorized Toad" are but a few alongside his trademark lines: "Oh, the pain... the pain!" and "Never fear, Smith is here!" One of Jonathan Harris's last roles was providing the voice of the illusionist praying mantis "Manny" in Disney's A Bug's Life, where Harris used "Oh, the pain... the pain!" near the end of the film.
The catchphrase "Danger, Will Robinson!" originates with the series, but was only ever used once in it, during episode 11 of season 3 ("The Deadliest of the Species"), when the Robot warns young Will Robinson about an impending threat. It was also used as the slogan of the 1998 movie, whose official website had the address www.dangerwillrobinson.com.
In early 1968, while the final third-season episode "Junkyard in Space" was in production, the cast and crew were informally made to believe the series would return for a fourth season. Allen had ordered new scripts for the coming season. A few weeks later, however, CBS announced a list of television series they were renewing for the 1968-69 season, and Lost in Space was not included. Although CBS programming executives failed to offer any reasons why Lost in Space was cancelled, there are at least five suggested reasons offered by series executives, critics and fans, any one of which could be considered sufficient justification for cancellation given the state of the broadcast network television industry at the time. As there was no official final episode, the exploring pioneers never made it to Alpha Centauri nor found their way back to Earth.
The show had sufficient ratings to support a fourth season, but it was expensive. The budget per episode for Season One was $130,980, and for Season Three, $164,788. In that time, the actors' salaries increased; in the case of Harris, Kristen and Cartwright, their salaries nearly doubled. Part of the cost problems may have been the actors themselves: director Richardson saying of Williams' demanding closeups of himself:
- "This costs a fortune in time, it's a lot of lighting and a lot of trouble and Irwin succumbed to it. It got to be that bad."
The interior of the Jupiter 2 was the most expensive set for a television show at the time, about $350,000. (More than the set of the USS Enterprise a couple of years later.)
According to Mumy and other sources, the show was initially picked up for a fourth season, but with a cut budget. Reportedly, 20th Century Fox was still recovering from the legendary budget overruns of Cleopatra, and thus slashed budgets across the board in its film and television productions. Allen claimed the series could not continue with a reduced budget. During a negotiating conference regarding the series direction for the fourth season with CBS chief executive Bill Paley, Allen stormed out (of the meeting) when told that the budget was being cut 15% from Season Three, his action thereby sealing the show's cancellation.
Robert Hamner, one of the show's writers, states (in Starlog, #220, November 1995) that Paley despised the show so much that the budget dispute was used as an excuse to terminate the series. Years later, Paley stated this was incorrect and that he was a fan of "the Robot".
The Lost in Space Forever DVD cites declining ratings and escalating costs as the reasons for cancellation. Even Irwin Allen admitted that the Season 3 ratings showed an increasing percentage of children among the total viewers, meaning a drop in the "quality audience" that advertisers preferred.
A contributing factor, at least, was that June Lockhart and director Don Richardson were no longer excited about the show. Lockhart said in response to being told about cancellation by Perry Lafferty, the head of CBS programming, "I think that's for the best at this point", although she goes on to say that she would have stayed if there had been a fourth season. Lockhart immediately joined the cast of CBS' Petticoat Junction upon Lost in Space's cancellation. Richardson had been tipped off that the show was likely to be cancelled, was looking for another series, and had decided not to return to Lost in Space, even if it continued.
Guy Williams grew embittered with his role on the show as it became increasingly "campy" in Seasons 2 and 3 while centering squarely on the antics of Harris' Dr. Smith character. Whether Williams would have returned for a fourth season or not wasn't revealed, but he never acted again after the series, choosing instead to retire to Argentina.
For Season Three, the opening theme was revised (again by Williams) to a more exciting and faster tempo score, accompanied by live action shots of the cast, featuring a pumped-up countdown from seven to one to launch each week's episode. Seasons 1 and 2 had animated figures "life-roped" together drifting "hopelessly lost in space" and set to a dizzy and comical score that Bill Mumy once described in a magazine interview as "sounding like a circuit board".
Much of the incidental music in the series was written by Williams who scored his four TV episodes with the movie soundtrack quality that not only helped him gain credibility and a boost towards his later success but also gave Lost in Space its distinctive musical style that is instantly recognizable by all of the shows fans. Other notable film and television composers included Alexander Courage (composer of the Star Trek theme), who contributed six scores to the series. His most recognizable ("Wild Adventure") included his key theme for "Lorelei" composed for organ, woodwinds, and harp — thus cementing this highly recognizable theme with Williams' own "Chariot" and main theme for the series. The dramatic music of the show served the serious drama episodes well while highlighting the whimsy of later episodes when the deadly serious tunes were used to underscore comical and laughable fantasy threats.