Episode 24 (S3) – Junkyard in Space

The final episode of LOST IN SPACE begins with Dr Smith hard at work writing his memoirs. “OUTER SPACE AND I will be one of the biggest sellers in the history of literature” he boasts to Will.

He is interrupted by a fire that flares on the port side of the ship. A malfunctioning fuel tank is to blame. John and Don decide they will have to land on the nearest planet to effect repairs. The robot goes down first in the space pod to check the planet is suitable for habitation.

After some time, an emergency help signal is received by the Jupiter 2. They head the ship in the direction of the planet to retrieve the robot. Once landed, it is clear the planet resembles a junkyard, with scrap metal and discarded machines littering its surface.

A mother-of-all-magnets contraption like this one could have come in real handy on this planet.

They locate the robot, who is hanging upside down from a giant magnet. A silver ‘Junkman’ appears, and looking at the Robinsons observes, “You are the strangest looking junk that’s ever been dropped here.”

The Junkman then sees the Robinson’s spaceship and says, “Nice piece of metal. Should melt down very nicely”. He tells the family that all space junk falls onto the planet and that he alone has cornered the intergalactic junk market.

The Jupiter 2 then tries to blast off from the planet. It is prevented from doing so because of the planet’s magnetic pull, caused by the accumulation of all the space junk. A severe food shortage then hits the Robinson’s camp.

The hydroponic garden and the family’s freezer unit are contaminated by what Maureen describes as a type of ‘rust-mould. Dr Smith cooks up his own leather shoe in response. Soon the Junkman approaches with a better offer.

In exchange for a beef stroganoff served with red wine, the Junkman says he needs a ‘stability unit’. There is one inside the robot. Smith convinces the robot to sacrifice it in exchange for the food. When the exchange happens, the junkman says he also needs the robot’s transistors.

The Junkman then steals the family’s spaceship. Various attempts are made using the space-pod to go after him. Eventually he is talked into returning by Will.

Meanwhile the robot, believing he will never be whole again without his missing parts, places himself on a conveyor belt headed for a melt-down furnace. Miraculously he survives the attempt and the episode, and the series, ends on a happy note.

A big thankyou to everyone who has followed this blog since it’s first post back on October 27th, 2018. A particularly wholehearted thanks to American author Stacey Bryan who has contributed cool comments on all 83 episodes.

LOST IN SPACE FIRESIDE from today will be officially ‘grandfathered’. There will be one final post looking back over the three years of this blog that will feature on SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK. Thankyou one and all. It’s been a LOT of fun.

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Episode 23 (S3) – The Great Vegetable Rebellion

Will, Penny and Judy are celebrating the robot’s birthday. In an uncharacteristic selfless act, Dr Smith decides to head down in the space pod to the planet the Jupiter 2 is orbiting to souvenir some local exotic flora to bring back for the occasion.

Dr Smith commences snipping some local plants down on the planet. Every time he does this he hears a faint groan. Next he is confronted by a talking carrot who tells him it has just witnessed his crime. “You murdered them”, announces the carrot. “You shouldn’t have done that”.

Don and John head the ship down to the Planet in pursuit of Smith. They use machetes to hack through thick jungle to reach the point they believe the space pod may have landed. With each cut of a vine or branch, they too begin to hear muffled screams of pain.

The giant carrot, who is really a rogue alien botanist named Tybo, captures Don, John and Maureen and imprisons them. However they discover a trapdoor which leads to an underground room and their eventual escape.

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Tybo‘s plans to turn the Robinsons into plants are thwarted. Dr Smith however does a pretty fair impersonation of a celery stick for most of the episode. Tybo begins to lose energy through dehydration. The Robinsons take this as their cue and make a hasty lift-off in the Jupiter 2 from the planet.

This penultimate episode of LOST IN SPACE is the series ‘Jump the Shark’ moment – before that term had even been invented.

It happens to all tv shows – eventually. When the well has long ago run dry in the storyline department and there appears just no more, what could reasonably be termed ‘organically conceived’ scenarios the writers can come up with to place the characters in; yet finances and signed contracts dictate that more episodes need be made.

What’s to do? If you’re a television executive you don’t need to go searching far for the answer. Introduce a gimmick, of course! The cheesier the better. In fact, preferably one that shouts from the rooftops “This series is creatively spent” and then adds as an afterthought “and the sound you hear is the bottom of the barrel being well and truly scraped.”

LOST IN SPACE had featured a number of entertaining, botanically themed episodes over it’s three seasons prior to this misshapen mistroke. But with THE GREAT VEGETABLE REBELLION, things just got too redonkulous and numbatish to take seriously- even as (camp) comedy.

I wouldn’t even say it was my least favorite episode. That dishonor probably goes to any number of Season Two stories – most notably MUTINY IN SPACETHE QUESTING BEAST – and possibly THE PHANTOM FAMILY.

It ain’t all bad! I should point out this video features scenes from three of my all-time FAVOURITE episodes – SPACE BEAUTY THE SPACE DESTRUCTORS – and THE GIRL FROM THE GREEN DIMENSION.

But when you hear interviews with members of the show’s cast pointing out that this episode did indeed mark a low point in the series, you think back to your own instincts as a child and that voice that whispered in your ear, something along the lines of “These babytown frolics are just absurd!” Ok, that’s my adult voice talking, but you get the idea.

Bob May (1939 -2009) was the actor ‘inside’ the Robot.

RIDE ANYWAYS CREATES A BRIDGE BETWEEN MOTORSPORT, STREET CULTURE & COUTURE  — RIDE ANYWAYS

Thankfully there’s still one more episode of LOST IN SPACE to look back on. Then it will be time to bring down the curtain on the series, and with it, this blog. That’s good news, ’cause I wouldn’t want to go out like this, such as it has been – not-so-great-rotting-veggie rebellion and all. Tee hee.

So until next time

The Final Time.

Episode 22 (S3) – The Flaming Planet

Will discovers Dr Smith watering an ‘orange plant’ in his cabin. He reminds Smith that Professor Robinson has specified no alien vegetation of any kind is allowed on board the ship. “Space radiation can affect any plant’s photosynthesis process. We don’t know what it might turn into.” Dr Smith promises he will get rid of the plant.

The Jupiter 2 passes through a cosmic radiation belt after which Smith’s orange plant grows disproportionally huge. Dr Smith is instructed to expel the plant through the ship’s jet exhaust port. Instead he jettisons it through the escape hatch.

As a result the plant continues to cling to the outside of the ship. The robot calculates the plant believes Dr Smith is it’s mother. They head for the nearest planet, hoping that entering it’s atmosphere will cause the plant to burn up.

Landing on the planet, they encounter an alien warlord who says he is the last of a mighty race called the Sobrams. He requests Professor Robinson take over stewardship of the planet after he is gone. The warlord also seeks to experience the thrill of one last battle.

Dr Smith begins training man-size plants as soldiers for the upcoming war games. Eventually the aging general is persuaded to allow the Robinsons to leave and instead use the army of soldier plants as his adversary in the military engagements he so desires.

The role of the ageing warlord Sobram was played by Burmese-born British actor Abraham Sofaer (1896 -1988). He began his acting career on the London stage in 1921, and also appeared on television from its earliest days in the late 1930s and on radio.

Initially however Sofaer worked as a school teacher in Rangoon and later in London. He may be best remembered for his recurring role as Haji, the master of all genies, on the 1960’s television series I Dream of Jeannie (1965 – 1970).

Episode 21 (S3) – Space Beauty

The planet the Robinsons are on is in the midst of a sustained drought. Will and Don rig up a ‘rain machine’ contraption they hope will induce precipitation from the air.

Meanwhile Intergalactic Entertainment Promoter Mr Farnum appears to Judy and Penny and announces he is running a beauty pageant. Female creatures of all different descriptions and originating from many different planets begin gathering.

When Will questions whether some of the odd-shaped creatures could really be considered beautiful, Farnum reminds Will that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. He also asks him to consider if he were a fish, would he likely find a grizzly bear attractive.

Farnum is pressured by his bosses to find a humanoid to appear in the contest. He approaches Judy but she declines. Smith, eying a reward from Farnum, tells him he knows a way to persuade Judy to enter.

Dr Smith advises Judy NOT to partake in the contest as she would have little chance of competing against such stiff competition from across the galaxy. Judy’s competitive instincts then take hold. She decides to enter the pageant after all.

However the fine print of the contract Judy signs states that the winner of the contest must live in the organizer’s galaxy forever. The ultimate judge of the contest appears, a being known as The Mysterious Dictator, and chooses Judy as the winner.

Smith offers instead the robot dressed as a woman but the flame-headed Mysterious Dictator refuses. He summons Judy, who now appears to be hypnotized. Judy walks slowly towards the being’s raging furnace of an outstretched hand.

In a last ditch attempt to stop the union, Don hurriedly rigs the rain machine. It produces snow instead, which is enough to extinguish the Mysterious Dictator’s flame and ‘dissolve’ him.

The actor who played the part of Mr Farnum was Leonard Stone (1923 – 2011). He had supporting roles in over 120 television shows and 35 films (including a character in my 2nd most favourite Jerry Lewis movie THE BIG MOUTH (1967)) across a fifty year time span from 1956 – 2006.

His career included touring Australia and New Zealand for eight years with the live stage musical SOUTH PACIFIC. One of Stone’s more notable film roles came in 1971, when he played Mr Beauregarde, the father of Golden ticket winner Violet Beauregarde in WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. 

He appeared in another Jerry Lewis film in 1980, titled HARDLY WORKING and wrote a children’s book called KEEPY – THE KANGAROO WHO NEVER GREW that was published a few months before he passed away.

Episode 20 (S3) – Fugitives in Space

The Space Warden from Planet Destructon arrives on the Robinson’s planet. He is seeking an escaped criminal. Through a misunderstanding, Don and Smith are found guilty by a computer jury and Judge of assisting the prisoner to evade capture.

They are sentenced, together with the recaptured prisoner – an ape-like being named ‘Creech’ – to a life of hard labour in Quadrant 6: “The worst quadrant in the entire galaxy, with temperatures over 150 degrees”.

The robot bakes a cake with plastic explosive in it and delivers it to Don and Smith in an attempt to free them but the plan misfires.

Don (prisoner #756498274 – ‘274 for short’) and Smith, (prisoner # 756498273 – ‘273 for short’) led by Creech, carry out their own escape plan and head to Devil’s Quandrant, where Creech says he has people on the outside waiting for him and there is billions in deutronium.

Close to their destination, Creech walks ahead of Don and Smith. He steps on a sub-atomic mine and is instantly pulverized. The Warden appears soon after with a complete pardon for prisoners 273′ and 274′.

The role of the towering ape-prisoner Creech was played with great physicality and presence by actor Michael Conrad (1925 – 1983). He served in the U.S. army during WW2 and afterwards had a long acting career which stretched across thirty years from the 1950’s.

Married three times, Conrad is best known for playing the desk sergeant in the television series HILL STREET BLUES (1981 – 1987), a role he performed for 71 episodes.

Episode 19 (S3) – The Promised Planet

The Jupiter 2 receives a transmission signal from an interstellar relay station based on Planet Delta. The male voice sending the message identifies himself as ‘Bartholomew’. The Robinsons note Bartholomew sounds quite young.

The Jupiter 2 lands on Planet Delta. The Robinsons are greeted by Bartholomew who looks about 16 – and his similarly youthful entourage. They present each of the female Robinsons with a bouquet of flowers.

Bartholomew explains Planet Delta is an advance ‘processing’ station designed for ‘screening’ people before they move onto Planet Gamma. He mentions Penny and Will will be accommodated separately from their parents. When Professor Robinson says he’d prefer they stayed with them he is told it is just regulation.

So begins Penny and Will’s ‘Adjustment Period’. They are each placed in separate study rooms. They learn geometry while loud rock music plays over speakers. Both are told they’ve been around their ‘olders’ too long and will learn better once they are free of their ‘former associations’. When Will uses the word ‘Gosh!’ in conversation, Bartholomew remarks, “That’s a really in word… in the squares dictionary”.

Another hippie-styled teenager named Edgar offers Penny and Will what he calls ‘memory cones’. He says when you light them up they smell like incense but also boost memory and help you learn faster. “All you gotta do is let go of Mama and Papa” he advises Penny and Will. “Just tune out those senior citizens and you’ll be able to breeze through your adjustment course”.

The next time John and Maureen see Penny and Will they have changed. Penny tells her father to “Cool it!” But she’s only getting started. “Will’s a big boy now. And I’m a big girl. So why don’t you just go back with the rest of the elders and leave us do our thing. You don’t belong here. Olders are out now. We’re in”.

Will persuades Penny to escape with him back to the Jupiter 2. Unfortunately John and the rest of the family have come under the influence of some kind of brainwashing of their own and have no memory that Will and Penny are their children. They leave in the ship without them, but not before Will gives his father some memory cones as a parting gift, saying “You’ll need this more than I will”.

Once out of orbit, the robot tells Professor Robinson that only now he is free of the magnetic impulses of Planet Delta is he able to determine what happened. He tells John his memories of Will and Penny were blanked out by an alien smoke screen.

The robot advises him to light up the memory cones. They give off a red smoke and John is able to clearly hear his children’s voices. The Jupiter 2 immediately alters course to return to Planet Delta.

Detecting their approaching ship, Bartholomew forces Will to transmit a message to the Jupiter 2 telling his father and family they are not wanted and to go back where they came from. “One thing we don’t need is any help from you. Quit making with the hero bit and reverse course.” Penny is coerced into adding, “Look man, we don’t groove to the same vibration. Chow man”.

Meanwhile on Planet Delta Bartholomew admits to Penny he and his kind cannot grow old. This is why they need the Robinsons. He prepares Will and Penny to undergo a blood transfusion so that their ageing chemistry can be transferred to the alien teenagers who inhabit the planet. John and Don arrive just in time, rescue Penny and Will and depart the planet.

Episode 18 (S3) – Time Merchant

During a storm, Will conducts an experiment to try to trap some ‘cosmic particles’. In the process he accidentally ensnares CHRONOS THE TIME MERCHANT. Chronos claims that while he is trapped in Will’s apparatus, “There is no one running the factory. The time tapes have gone amok! They’re running backwards and sideways and upside down”.

Will agrees to disentangle Chronos from the magnetic poles he has become attached to. No sooner has he done this then the Time Merchant hypnotizes Will and then leads him back to the time factory. John and the robot go in pursuit of Will using the inter-dimensional pathway created by Will’s ‘cosmic particles’ equipment.

John confronts Chronos and demands he release Will. Chronos says he can’t do that. He says Will wasted his time and now he must be paid back. As a demonstration of his powers, he shows John and Will a video screen depicting a small planet from the Omega Galaxy.

“Fine people but shameful time wasters”, declares Chronos. “Now they’ve used it all up. This is the only part of my business I don’t enjoy, but… it must done”. With the push of a button he then detonates the planet.

Professor Robinson is incensed: “You’ve just destroyed an entire civilization. Don’t you feel any remorse for that?” Chronos replies – “They did it to themselves. Everybody has a time tape. But if they run hither and zither, too and fro, back and forth, never slowing down for a moment then they use their time tapes up all the faster. And that’s all there is too it! But, here is something you might want to remember. I always do what I have to do. And I never, never let sentiment interfer with business.”

Meanwhile, Dr Smith enters Thanos’s time machine and returns himself to October 16, 1997, the exact date the Jupiter 2 first launched from Earth with him on board as a stowaway. Knowing what he now knows however about the Jupiter 2 getting off course and becoming ‘Lost in Space’ for many years, Smith is determined this time NOT get on board the ship.

“History doesn’t repeat. But it does rhyme” – Mark Twain

Will asks Chronos what will happen if Dr Smith doesn’t get on board the Jupiter 2. Professor Robinson replies, saying “Dr Smith’s added weight caused us to drift off course in the first place son. With him not aboard, we may wind up in Alpha Centauri.”

Chronos corrects this however, stating “The ship will be destroyed by an uncharted asteroid and when it is, all of you will cease to exist just like that.” John reminds him this is only true IF Smith doesn’t stow aboard the Jupiter 2 like he originally did.

John takes control of Chronos’s time travel equipment. He sends the robot back to October 16, 1997. The plan is for the robot to FORCE Smith to board the Jupiter 2, just like he did originally. At first reluctant, the robot tells Smith that without his extra weight forcing the Jupiter 2 off-course, the ship will be destroyed within four months by ploughing head-long into a meteor shower.

Finally, Smith gets lonely enough remembering the family he came to know so well. He and the robot climb aboard the departing Jupiter 2 at the very last moment. Professor Robinson then forces Chronos to transport Smith and the Robot back to the present. Chronos’s time machine ends up being destroyed by a power overload.

Actor John Crawford (1920 – 2010) played the role of the mad timelord Dr Chronos. As well as being a prolific tv actor, he also appeared in over 100 films. Looking very different just three years after he filmed the Lost In Space episode, he played the part of the kidnapped mayor in the Clint Eastwood movie THE ENFORCER (1971).

Wanna have some fun? Listen for the line at the two minute, two second mark – “Dave, get me out of this.”

Episode 17 (S3) – Princess of Space

Penny confides in Will that the night before she dreamed of a beautiful palace. Will scoffs at the idea, prompting Penny to remark. “The trouble with boys is you don’t have any imagination. I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with dreaming of a palace. As long as you know you’re pretending”.

As if on cue, a pair of sparkly silver shoes appears with a note attached that reads “If the shoe fits…”. Penny is hesitant. She then hears a voice announce “Well… try on the shoes. Do you want to be a Princess or don’t ya?”

Will becomes entrapped in a red carpet that has appeared at the same time as the silver shoes. He is transported up to a pirates spaceship belonging to a Captain Krasbow. The pirate says he is from the planet Beta and has been searching for someone named ‘Princess Alpha’ for a long time. Captain Krasbow reveals the Princess he seeks, who is the rightful heir to Planet Beta, was shuttled to Earth just when ‘the machines were on the brink of revolution’.

Will is allowed to beam back down to the planet. He returns with Penny. Judy and Don follow in pursuit but are soon ‘reduced to tape’ by Captain Krasbow. Penny is blackmailed into assuming the role of the long lost civilization’s princess. She undergoes extensive training for her impending inauguration.

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Before the inauguration Penny must pass an inspection from Planet Beta’s royal queen, Aunt Gamma. The mighty matriarch tells Penny, “I knew it was you the minute I saw you. And I’ve never been wrong about anything. Your eyes are just the right distance apart.

Aunt Gamma explains to Penny that they need their royal princess to control the machines. Only in her hands will the royal scepter work. It then comes to light that Captain Krasbow’s 2nd in charge, ship’s steward (14th class) ‘Fedor’ is actually a machine himself and is planning on leading a rebellion during the coronation.

The machines attack, led by the traitorous Fedor. The robot and Captain Krasbow attempt to fight back. Will remembers a secret code – K12B6 – that manifests the real princess ( who looks exactly like Penny). With a wave of the royal scepter Fedor’ is reduced to tape and the machines are repelled.

Six foot five inch tall actor Robert Foulk (1908 -1989) played the role of the bellowing Captain Krasbow. In addition to playing the part of the sheriff in the television series LASSIE (which starred June Lockhart) Foulk also worked as an architectural draftsman designing houses.

Episode 16 (S3) – Target Earth

Dr Smith accidentally launches the space-pod down to an unknown planet. The Jupiter 2 plots a course to retrieve it. The robot is sent out first to detect atmospheric conditions but he is captured by aliens.

The clay-model style creatures board the Jupiter 2. During this time the family members are frozen in suspended animation. The aliens somehow capture a ‘blue-print’ of the Robinsons genetic makeup. When the space family ‘awaken’ again, the aliens have left, but taken with them the information they sought.

Their plan is to duplicate the Robinsons, appropriate their vehicle, then set a course for Earth. The Robinson look-alikes are to be the advance party for a full-scale invasion of the planet.

With the real Robinsons now tied up and out of the way, the duplicates board the Jupiter 2. At the last moment, Will and Dr Smith break free of their binds, knock out their duplicates and take their place on board the ship.

Will manages to secretly make an emergency transmission to Alpha Control warning them not to allow the Earth-bound Jupiter 2 to land. Shortly after, the aliens are forced to take evasive action to avoid the missiles directed at the ship from Earth.

The aliens make the decision to turn back. Their plans to dispatch an advance party for a planned invasion of Earth are at an end.

The alien leader reflects – “We who are alike and uniform in all our ways still have much to learn about the ways of those who are different from each other. What we are we must remain, until a change comes within our selves – and not at the expense of others.”

The voice actor inside the lead alien’s grey blob suit was Jim Gosa (1931 -1989). Apart from acting credits that included appearing in the 1973 Clint Eastwood movie HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, Gosa was a popular jazz disc jockey for Los Angeles radio station KKGO-FM for 21 years.

He began studying law at night in 1982. Gosa achieved a life-long ambition of passing the California State Bar exam in June 1988 and worked for an L.A law firm until his death the following year.

Episode 15 (S3) – The Anti-Matter Man

Professor Robinson and the Robot are effecting repairs on an atomizing unit. In the process of doing this a duplicate John Robinson briefly appears and then disappears.

We next see Professor Robinson chained and being dragged through the dirt amidst some kind of dark netherworld by a tough-talking, malevolent duplicate of himself. The ‘Opposite’, who is dressed in black and white, forces Professor Robinson to swap clothes with him.

Meanwhile the Robot again activates the atomizer and he and Will pass through to the alternate world. The Robot calculates they are ‘between’ dimensions. Later he refers to it as “the anti-matter world where opposites exist.” He also warns “This world is out of balance”.

Will and the Robot meet up with the evil imposter Professor Robinson. Together the three travel back to the normal dimension via a mist-shrouded celestial bridge that overlooks the vast nothingness of space. Will and the robot are threatened that if they let on they know his true identity, harm will befall the real John Robinson back in the anti-matter world.

Maureen, the girls and Don all welcome back the man purporting to be John. However, it is not long before they begin to notice subtle changes in his personality.

During a dinner to welcome him back, ‘John’ loses his temper first with Dr Smith (understandable!) but also with Don and then Maureen. He then insists they move ahead at double-speed for plans to lift off from the planet.

Don and Will soon notice their watches are now running backwards. Penny also complains that her tape recorder is playing tapes backwards. Everything seems out of whack. The robot then whispers he has noticed that the man claiming to be John Robinson doesn’t cast a shadow in daylight.

Will uses the atomizer to transport himself back to the anti-matter world to find his real father. The evil John Robinson follows him. In this netherworld there are non-stop electrical storms. This is particularly so since the two worlds are out of balance now that both John Robinsons are present in the anti-matter dimension.

The duplicate John Robinson catches up with Will and prepares to forcibly take him back to the real world. The true Professor Robinson escapes from his cage and comes after his opposite. A final confrontation takes place between the two on the celestial bridge, resulting in the evil Professor Robinson plunging over the side into the nothingness of space.

Will and his real father return to the waiting arms of the rest of the Robinsons back at the Jupiter 2.

Unlike the idea of equally proportioned opposite type energies proposed in this LOST IN SPACE episode, there is strong evidence that the observable universe is composed ALMOST ENTIRELY of ordinary matter, as opposed to an equal mixture of matter and antimatter.

Apparently this disproportionate imbalance of matter vs anti-matter in the visible universe is one of the great unsolved problems of physics.

Scientists claim that antimatter is the costliest material to make. In 1999, NASA gave a figure of $62.5 trillion per gram of antihydrogen. According to CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research based in Switzerland) it has cost a few hundred million Swiss Francs to produce about 1 billionth of a gram of anti-matter.

Studies funded by NASA are exploring whether it might be possible to use magnetic scoops to collect the antimatter that occurs naturally in the Van Allen belt of the Earth, hopefully at a lower cost per gram.

Also of interest – scientists on CERN’s ACE project have studied antimatter as a potential candidate for cancer therapy.