LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS "Danger, Will Robinson!" - Time to get Lost in Space with Horror
By James Whittington, Wednesday 18th December 2019
Created by Irwin Allen and set way into the (then) future, Lost in Space is one of those cult TV series that Hollywood is rightfully proud of. Allen, of course had already given the world the gripping series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-68) and would go onto create more classics such as The Time Tunnel (1966-67) and Land of Giants (1968-70) and produce cinematic thrills as The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974).
Originally running from 1965 until 1968 and across three seasons and an incredible 83 episodes, the series, set in 1997, brought the space age to homes across the globe, just a few years before we made it to the moon.
Influenced by the classic 1812 novel by Johann David Wyss, The Swiss Family Robinson, the series follows the Robinsons, a family chosen from millions of volunteers to begin to colonize the far reaches of space. Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams) is the leader of this family group with his wife Dr Maureen (June Lockhart), and their children Judy (Marta Kristen); Penny (Angela Cartwright) and Will (Billy Mumy).
Their ship, the Jupiter 2 is on course to a planet, similar to Earth orbiting the star Alpha Centauri with and estimated time of arrival some five-and-a-half years later. Unbeknown to the family, the journey is sabotaged by Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris) and all, including their trusty robot B-9 crash land on an alien planet named Priplanus.
So begins a trip into an uncharted frontier of space with a family that reflected wholesome American, at a time of great, social change.
Season 1 was shot in black and white and the format went very quickly from the family searching the bizarre and alien environment whilst finding adventure to encounters with a sort of monster/foe of the week vibe. Also, as this season progressed, Harris became a permanent fixture on the show and very often the comic relief to some of the more serious episodes. Season 2 saw the Robinsons and Smith escape to a new planet and this time in colour though the formula for each story was now wonderfully familiar. Then, when Season 3 landed there was change in the air as the crew were able to move from planet to planet becoming more like Star Trek than Swiss Family Robinson.
Over the three seasons the loyal fanbase stayed with the show which was starting to go global and more and more of Hollywood's finest popping up including Al Lewis, Michael J. Pollard and a young Kurt Russell to name just a few. John Williams, yes, THE John Williams provided the unforgettable theme tune but is credited with the cooler sounding name of Johnny Williams.
Like all good ideas the series has been revisited and modernised on a number of occasions, who could forget the 1998 movie which was basically a vehicle for Matt Le Blanc to take his character of Joey into space. It did have some nice nods to the original series but who liked the hideous space monkey creature? You may not have heard about the never aired 2004 resurrection of the series which had John Woo attached. A pilot was shot under the title of The Robinsons: Lost in Space and even though it had such an A-list director and a sizable budge it was never picked up.
Netflix have had more success, now onto Season 2 this re-imagining lacks the fun of the original and the robot, well let's say its style over substance.
As a footnote Irwin Allen did produce a series The Swiss Family Robinson in 1975 which stayed true to the original book, though it only lasted 20 episodes.
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