Episode 4 (S3) – Hunter’s Moon

Professor Robinson uses the space-pod to recon down to an unknown planet before the Jupiter 2 makes an emergency landing for repairs. He encounters an alien who informs him “You are trespassing on a private killing preserve, Earthling”.

The alien says his name is Megazor and that he is the future ruler of the planet Zon. He explains he is here to undergo special tests to determine his suitability to be a ruler of his civilization. He needs one final kill of importance and he will have the required total of points to assure his ascendancy as ruler of all of Zon.

After determining that Professor Robinson has the necessary qualities to pose a challenge, Megazor decides he has found his final ‘kill of importance’. He unfurls a scroll he says are the ‘Rules of the Hunt’. These include the time limit for the hunt being 60 Earth minutes and the hunted being given a choice of weapons as well as five minutes head start.

He beckons John to a table where an array of weapons are laid out. He invites the Professor to make his choice but adds “I am required to warn you that each of these weapons may have a small defect”. Professor Robinson chooses an anti-blast Zon protective suit.

During the hunt, Megazor observes Will’s protective feelings for his father. Megazor dismisses such feelings as being mere defects. This prompts Will to remark, “There’s nothing wrong with caring. Haven’t you ever been close to someone? What about your parents? You must have felt something for them?

Megazor then reveals – “I was created by a synthesis incubator Mark 3 advanced model. I have seen your Earthly love and affection. They are useless instincts for survival.”

The hunt begins. Patiently Megazor tracks John and eventually corners him when the Professor becomes seemingly stuck in quicksand. At the last moment John frees himself and kills Megazor. Megazor’s robot offers John a chance to try for ruler of Zon himself. Professor Robinson declines however, saying he has too many what would be considered, ‘Earthly defects’.

American tv actor of the 1960’s and 70’s Vincent Beck (1924 – 1984) played the role of the ambitious Megazor. Because of his deep voice, height and overall look, Beck was often cast in the role of villains.

His feature film debut came in the improbably titled SANTA CLAUSE CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964). In the year before his death Beck was vice-president of the American Actor’s Equity Guild.

Episode 3 (S3) – Kidnapped in Space

The Jupiter 2 receives a radio transmission from the Zenian Galaxy. It’s a call for help asking if there is a doctor available. Dr Smith responds, using the ship’s spacepod vehicle to travel down to the planet.

Smith introduces himself to the aliens on the planet as “Dr Zachery Smith” and the robot as his male nurse. The aliens explain their leader requires brain surgery. Dr Smith explains he is not a medical doctor but rather a doctor of ‘Intergalactic Environmental Psychology”.

The aliens insist he goes ahead and operates anyway, warning that if their leader dies, Smith’s “time will also be ended”. When Dr Smith protests, saying he faints at the sight of blood, he is ordered simply to “Scrub up”.

The Robinsons land the Jupiter 2 on the planet in order to retrieve Smith. They are immediately attacked and captured. When told that Dr Smith is about to operate on their leader, Don remarks – “Smith couldn’t cut an overgrown toe-nail let alone operate on anyone”.

When Smith is shown the patient he must operate on, it turns out it is a machine. The aliens claim it is not a machine but “the greatest brain in the Universe”. When the time comes, Smith runs away, saying “I can’t do it”. He is placed in the same prison cell as Don, John, Will and the robot.

It soon comes to light that the robot has the skill and knowledge to proceed with the operation on the alien’s leader. He refuses to operate however, claiming he knows the machine’s brain will be used by the aliens for evil.

The aliens force the robot’s hand by threatening the life of Will. The robot reluctantly agrees to operate. Before he does he receives a pledge from the evil brain that it will ‘mend its ways if repaired’.

Prior to the operation, Smith tampers with a device the aliens use to control time. He is reverted back to being 9 years old again. Following the successful operation, the newly restored mechanical leader of the aliens uses it’s power to restore Dr Smith back to his old self.

Actor Grant Sullivan (1924 – 2011) played the role of the head alien, identified only by the number on his silver uniform, #764. Sullivan was a meteorologist in the United States Navy during WW2. He appeared on Broadway in AUNTIE MAME in 1956 before moving to television roles.

Grant Sullivan’s big break came when he was cast in the starring role as investigator Brett Clark in the television series PONY EXPRESS (35 episodes/ 1959 – 1960). For the role he trained to ride horses. Sullivan left acting in the early 1970s and worked in real estate until retirement.

Episode 2 (S3) – Visit to a Hostile Planet

The Jupiter 2 enters a space time warp and is transported back to Earth. To their surprise the Robinson’s discover however, it is Earth from an earlier time period – 1947 to be exact. They have travelled back in time 50 years!

The locals they meet back on Earth regard them suspiciously. They are treated as alien invaders and referred to as ‘Voltones’. Professor Robinson gives a deadline to liftoff from the planet. Dr Smith cannot bring himself to leave Earth – even if it is Earth from an earlier time. He believes “one world in the hand is worth two in the bush”.

Smith sheds his silver spacesuit and dresses in a fireman’s uniform he finds in a shed. So he can blend in with the locals he poses as the local firechief, saying he is from the nearby township of ‘Chickasaw Falls’.

Just as the Robinsons are about to leave in their spaceship (without Dr Smith), a vigilante party headed by Dr Smith posing as the firechief threatens to destroy the Jupiter 2 with a canon if they do not surrender.

Will bargains with Dr Smith and says he will stay with him – so he has some company in this 1947 version of Earth – if he allows the rest of his family to leave. At the last moment Don and John seize back their lasers which have been taken by the vigilante group and head back into the safety of their ship.

Before leaving John addresses the assembled locals, telling them – “Let’s just say that we came here and when we found out we didn’t belong, we left.” Just prior to the fold-down stairs of the Jupiter 2 being pulled up prior to take-off, Dr Smith throws off his firechief hat and coat and scrambles aboard.

In this episode the Robinsons return to their home planet, but in the Earth year 1947. By no coincidence the term ‘flying saucer’ was popularly coined in this same year.

In June 1947, U.S pilot Kenneth Arnold (1915 – 1984) created a media sensation after reporting a remarkable ‘UFO’ experience over Mount Rainer in Washington State. Word spread, and his account, to use a modern-day expression, went viral.

This led to the formation of Project Sign (also known as Project Saucer) at the end of 1947, the first public Air Force UFO study. The term “flying saucer” quickly became ingrained in the English vernacular. A U.S. Gallup poll from August 1947 found that 90% of respondents were familiar with the term ‘flying saucers’.

Episode 1 (S3) – Condemned of Space

The Robinsons hurriedly lift off in the Jupiter 2 after having become aware a huge comet is hurtling towards the planet. Once in space they find themselves pulled magnetically into the interior of another spaceship.

Don and John board the vessel. They discover they are now inside a fully automated prison colony. The warden is a computer and all the prisoners aboard have been frozen. When they don’t return, Smith, Will and the robot go in search of them.

Don is mistaken for a prisoner by a robot guard and frozen. Dr Smith accidentally unfreezes a prisoner known as Mr Phanzig who in turn unfreezes other prisoners. Together they stage a mass break-out.

Meanwhile John discovers that the clock that measures the time of each alien felon’s sentence stopped working two hundred years ago. John repairs the clock and the computer announces the men have all served their sentences and are now free.

The role of lead prisoner Mr Phanzig was played by German-born character actor Marcel Hillaire (1908 -1988). For a time he was a real-life prisoner in Nazi Germany when it was revealed he came from Jewish heritage.

He went on to have a successful career in American films and television including featuring as a film director in Woody Allen’s second movie TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN (1969).

Episode 30 (S2) – The Galaxy Gift

An alien named ‘Mr Arcon’ shows up suffering ill health. He is being pursued by beings called ‘Saticons’ who are after an amulet he wears on his belt. The Robinsons harbour Mr Arcon in the Jupiter 2. Arcon gives the amulet-belt to Penny and then leaves, so as not to bring more danger to the Robinsons.

Believing Arcon is still inside the Robinsons ship, the Saticons reduce the outside air temperature to below freezing in a bid to force the family to surrender him. Dr Smith travels to the Saticons camp to negotiate a deal with them. After the Saticons show him a key-operated ‘molecular transporter’ machine, Smith agrees to deliver them the amulet in return for transportation back to Earth.

Dr Smith attempts to deceive the Saticons by making a facsimile of the amulet and passing this off as the real one. Likewise the Saticons begin planning a deception of their own. They scan Dr Smith’s memory cells, and based on his recollection of Earth, create an artificial scene of Chinatown. They believe this will fool Smith into thinking he has been transported back to Earth.

When the time comes to test the transportation machine, Smith first decides to send Penny’s pet chimp ‘Debbie’ back to see if it works. When Debbie returns holding a hotdog and an L.A Dodgers baseball pennant, he is convinced the machine has the power to return him to Earth.

Smith and Will return to the recreated Chinatown in San Francisco via the machine, but when they see a fly the size of an albatross they realize they have been tricked and are not really back on Earth. The Saticons realize they have got the dimensions of the fly and other details wrong because they based the Earth copy on Smith’s exaggeration-prone memories.

Possibly those weird Sati’s should have checked out fly DNA a little more closely – like maybe with a clunky 1980’s-era ‘box’ computer?

At the same time the Saticons realize they too have been deceived when they uncover the fake amulet. Will, Penny and Dr Smith are preparing to feel their full wrath when Arcon shows up. In a final battle the Saticons are destroyed. Will, Penny and Smith use the transporter to safely return back to the Jupiter 2.

That only leaves one thing to say…

Episode 29 (S2) -The Astral Traveler

When a huge storm hits, Will and Dr Smith seek shelter inside a cave. The storm dislodges some rocks outside and the two become trapped. Inside the cave they discover a revolving door to another world.

Meanwhile, Don, Judy and Maureen attempt rescue from outside the cave. They eventually make their way through where they find Dr Smith. He explains Will has disappeared into a mysterious space-continuum passage to another dimension.

By reading a plaque on a wall, Will realizes he is back on Earth in Scotland during the Middle Ages. He witnesses a series of strange events while inside a castle. Will meets a ghost named Hamish who plays the bagpipes. Whenever Hamish plays the bagpipes a ghastly creature named Angus emerges from a swamp near the castle grounds.

Will comes back to the cave via the space-time continuum doorway. When he returns no one believes he has returned to Earth. Will says he he brought back with him a sample of a weed that was growing all over the Scottish castle wall and can only be found back on Earth. Dr Smith examines the weed under a microscope while at the same time consulting a plant textbook. He confirms it is a type of indigenous ivy found only in Scotland, back on Earth.

Now that they know the portal leads back to Earth, the Robinsons believe they can go home at last. The portal is limited, though, so only one person, Dr. Smith, is to return. The plan is for Smith to contact Alpha Control in order to effect the Robinsons’ rescue. Once he reaches Earth however, Dr Smith abandons the idea to pursue his own motives.

Smith’s subterfuge is foiled by both the ghost Hamish and the swamp creature Angus. Eventually he too returns back to the cave.

Irish-born actor Sean McClory (1924 – 2003) played the role of the bag-pipe playing ghost Hamish. Among hundreds of film and television appearances, he had parts in these movies –

And for no other reason than this episode features some genuine nut-cracking bagpipe solos, there’s this – though it may not be half as funny as the inflated laughter track would have you believe –

Episode 28 (S2) – The Mechanical Men

Dr Smith is performing a chemistry experiment with the goal of refining a new fuel formula to power the Jupiter 2. When the experiment results in an explosion, Smith wanders off to console himself after the failure. He beds down for a short doze. When he awakens he is tied down with ropes and surrounded by hundreds of mini robots.

The leader of the ‘mechanical men’ addresses Dr Smith, referring to him as a “cowardly weakling” and a “physical and mental pygmy”. Meanwhile, one by one, the Robinson’s outdoor equipment – including their force filed and a weather station – is sabotaged. When John asks the family’s robot if he knows anything about it, he refuses to answer – saying it is a question of loyalty.

The entire miniaturised mechanical men army arrives at the Robinson’s camp. They insist the family’s robot is their spiritual head and demand his immediate release. John refuses but the mechanical men remind him they have Dr Smith as their hostage.

The robot agrees to give himself over to the mechanical men and travels to their campsite. When he arrives the robot is greeted as a hero and told the miniaturised army has waited many centuries for this moment.

However after a while the mechanical men come to believe that the robot – their newly-appointed ‘supreme and majestic leader’ – is too nice. They are of the view that a true leader must also possess ruthlessness, slyness and powers of manipulation. The mini machines recognise they have an alternative leader in their midst – Dr Smith – who possesses these very qualities in abundance.

They perform an operation of ‘character readjustment’ – infusing Dr Smith’s sly qualities with the robot’s nice ones. After the operation Dr Smith speaks like the robot and moves stiffly like a machine. The robot, in turn, speaks with Dr Smith’s voice.

Taking fully to his new role as the leader of the mechanical men, the ‘Smith character-enhanced’ robot demands the Robinson’s hand over their spaceship so that he and the miniature army can return to their home planet of Industro. Believing they have no other choice, the Robinson’s make plans to pack up their belongings and vacate the Jupiter 2.

Dr Smith, still speaking with the robot’s voice following the ‘operation’, goes to the mechanical men’s camp to convince them to change their minds. Instead they launch a full-force, sneak attack on the Jupiter 2. In the course of the battle, the robot is hit with a lazer beam. This acts to restore the proper personalities of the robot and Dr Smith.

With their leader gone and their plans in ruins, the mechanical men retreat and leave the planet.

Screenwriter Barney Slater (1923 – 1978) wrote a total of 21 episodes of Lost In Space, including this one. The only person to write more was Peter Packer, with 25 episodes. Among a great many film and television writing credits, Slater wrote the story for the 1973 John Wayne movie CAHILL U.S. MARSHALL.

He died tragically from injuries sustained in a hit and run car accident in Los Angeles in 1978.

Episode 27 (S2) – The Phantom Family

An alien uses a camera x-ray to photograph the Robinsons. Will is not present when this happens and John and Maureen are ‘away’. Judy, Penny, Don and Dr Smith all begin acting strangely. Will initially believes he’s getting the silent treatment from family members who have now turned into unresponsive zombies.

The robot informs Will the others have been replaced by humanoid imposters – mechanical facsimiles or ‘duplicates’. The alien meets with Will and reveals that Dr Smith, Judy, Penny and Don are now under his control.

The duplicates try their best to act like their real versions but they are souless imitations without real personality. Will is forcibly coerced into training the duplicates to act like the real thing.

The alien, whose name is Lemnoc, tells Will his race are dying out and he needs the resilient qualities of Earthlings. Finally, the duplicates are broken out of their trance and the real family members escape from their storage tubes – everyone except for Dr Smith.

Lemnock says he will release Dr Smith in return for the Robinson’s ship. In the end Dr Smith’s duplicate does something the real Dr Smith would never do. He sacrifices himself so the genuine Smith can go free.

Actor Alan Hewitt (1915 – 1986) portrayed in costume the role of the alien leader Lemnoc. He – meaning Hewitt not Lemnoc – never became a major star but did have a lengthy career which included smaller parts in many well known tv shows of the 1960’s including Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, My Favourite Martian and The Lucy Show.

He appeared in three films that at one time I might possibly have labelled ‘favourites’ –

Episode 26 (S2) – Trip Through the Robot

Dr Smith is given a simple job to do by Don testing the ship’s electrical systems. “When you see the yellow light go on, hit the blue button. Then wait two seconds and hit the black button. Then wait three seconds and hit the green.” Naturally Dr Smith confuses the sequence with the result that the Jupiter 2 suffers an explosion.

The Robinson’s commence using their auxiliary power unit until the main electrical generator can be repaired. Meanwhile the robot starts feeling weary and run-down. Will pleads with his father to re-charge the robot immediately but is told it would put too great a strain on the auxiliary power unit. “It might even burn out the system and that’s a chance we can’t take.”

Will is heartbroken and that night at dinner – eaten by candlelight since they are on emergency power only – the whole family is down because the robot is ‘dying’. Penny plays a tape recording of the robot saying his last goodbyes before leaving to die alone.

Will forces Dr Smith to together go searching for the robot. When they find him he is lying on his back and as big as a house. Mustering barely enough energy to speak, the robot tells Smith and Will“Because of atmospheric conditions I have experienced a molecular reaction. This has reversed my ionic flow causing my great increase in size.”

Will and Dr Smith enter the robot via a compartment door carrying Will’s toolbox. Their goal is to reverse the robot’s ionic flow by making their way to the heart section and effecting the necessary repairs to the robot’s internal diode timer. They encounter numerous obstacles along the way.

John and Don go looking for Will and Dr Smith and eventually enter the robot. Will succeeds in reversing the machine’s ionic processor and the robot begins to rapidly shrink back to size with all four still inside. The three men make it out first and use a tree branch to keep open the narrowing exit door for Will.

The robot returns to normal size. He is helped to his feet and is ready to function again.

Back to normal. Well, almost…

That only leaves one thing to say…

Episode 25 (S2) -The Colonists

Hypersonic radio wave emissions short-circuit the Jupiter 2’s communication frequencies. A female voice announces the Robinsons are now prisoners and should surrender their weapons. An alien warrior Queen named Niolani enters the family’s camp accompanied by a collection of subservient male guards.

Niolani unfurls a scroll and then commands – “Now harken to this… This Planet has been chosen as a settlement for a pioneer colony of female warriors of the Condor nation. You have been taken captive in order that you may prepare the landing pad and an electronic purifying arch through which all of our warrior colonists will have to pass before breathing the air of their new home”

Men folk of the Robinson’s are informed they will be required to work night and day to prepare the landing pad. Don and John perform the heavy construction work while Smith works on painting a ceiling mural for the archway. Meanwhile Penny starts copying Niolani, trying to act superior to Will in an effort to show him his rightful place.

Don and John invent a plan to sabotage the alien’s landing operation. Dr Smith is not completely on board as he believes Niolani may visit Earth and take him with her if he ingratiates himself to the warrior queen.

They mould a decorative figurine made out of plastic explosive and then adorn the arch with it. Just as the colonizing mother ship is about to land they detonate the archway. The alien ship ascends back into the sky and the invasion is prevented.

Niolani sheds a tear at the end and reflects – “You have defeated me.” This prompts Maureen to ask – “Is it a defeat to acknowledge that men are just as good as women? Equality of the sexes has advantages you may have over-looked.

The part of Niolani was played by actress Francine York (1938 – 2017). She first broke through in Hollywood when Jerry Lewis cast her in his 1962 film IT’S ONLY MONEY. 

Subsequently she appeared in five more Lewis movies THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963) –  THE PATSY (1964) – THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY (1964) – THE FAMILY JEWELS (1965) and CRACKING UP (1983). Her numerous other film roles included playing Nicholas Cage’s mum in THE FAMILY MAN (2000).

A LOST IN SPACE episode as brilliant as this one deserves elevation somewhere above mere CLASSIC status. Indeed, ‘THE COLONISTS’ merits no less than the ultimate accolade…