”Danger! Danger Will Robinson!”
What originally set out to be a five-year voyage of the Alpha Centauri star system took a frightful turn, thanks to a biffed-up ship’s guidance system. With everything going haywire and navigational aids offering no help, one unlucky family found themselves Lost in Space. Never ones to give up, this Space Family Robinson decided to complete their mission, and their long voyage formed the basis for a sci-fi cult classic.
It wasn’t actually a technical malfunction that threw the Jupiter II craft off-course. No, friends, it was…sabotage! The villain responsible for this dreadful conspiracy was the amoral Dr. Zachary Smith, a dastardly rogue hired by an opposing foreign country to ruin the mission. Unfortunately for Smith, his mission-botching mission was botched from the start, and he found himself stuck on the craft as a stowaway. Everybody was thus lost together, but that didn’t stop Dr. Smith from hatching even more devilish plots.
The official passengers on Jupiter II were Professor John Robinson, his wife Maureen, and their three kids. Judy, the eldest daughter, was more on the artistic side. She didn’t share in the intellectual stimulation of her family, but she found a friend in the hunky pilot Major Don West. Penny was the family tomboy and a bit of a brain. But tops in the brainiac department was youngest child Will, who with his robot companion had a unique talent for undermining Dr. Smith’s nasty schemes.
Chaos followed the Jupiter II crowd as they traveled from planet to planet. In addition to Smith’s chicanery, Major West and the Robinsons were forever encountering various species of alien life forms and several life-threatening crises along the way. In one episode, Jupiter II mysteriously ran out of food, and a dubious merchant came to offer a trade for more. His price: the body of Dr. Smith!
In another memorable episode, the scheming Dr. Smith tried to program the robot to destroy all “non-essential” life forms, beginning with young Will, while the rest of the Robinsons raced to find a way to escape the planet’s dangerously cooling atmosphere. Such were the day-to-day affairs of this band of interstellar castaways, and a generation of young sci-fi addicts ate it up like so much astronaut ice cream.
Debuting in 1965, Lost in Space was the second sci-fi TV series from future 70’s disaster flick maven Irwin Allen, arriving one season after the underwater wows of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Over the remainder of the 60’s, the Irwin Allen name became an official seal of approval for those aforementioned sci-fi addicts, as series like The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants kept the out-of-this-world spectacle coming.
Lost in Space finished its run after three seasons, but the show became a cult favorite in syndication. Three decades later (and one year after the original show’s 1997 launch date of Jupiter II), the series was made into a full-length feature film, also entitled Lost In Space. You can sabotage their craft, you can hatch plots against them, but you can’t keep a good family and their giant-size robotic pal down.
A big budget feature film version with Gary Oldman was made in the late 1990’s.
USA / CBS – Irwin Allen – Jodi / 83×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 15 September 1965 – 11 September 1968
Creator/Executive Producer: Irwin Allen / Music: Johnny Williams
Guy Williams as John Robinson
June Lockhart as Maureen Robinson
Angela Cartwright as Penny Robinson
Billy Mumy as Will Robinson
Marta Kristen as Judy Robinson
Mark Goddard as Donald West
Jonathan Harris as Zachary Smith
Bob May as The Robot
Dick Tufeld as Robot’s Voice
Vitina Marcus as Athena
Dee Hartford as Verda
Dee Hartford as Nancy Pi Squared
Fritz Field as Mr. Zumdish
Leonard J. Stone as Farnum the Great
Sue England as Various Computer Voices
Dawson Palmer as Various Alien Roles