Episode One -The Reluctant Stowaway

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“This is the beginning.

This is the day.

You are watching the unfolding of one of history’s great adventures: man’s colonization of space – beyond the stars!”

And with those resonating voice-overed words, one of the greatest TV series of the 1960’s  of all time made its glorious black and white debut. I was there to cheer it on from the beginning. Well, maybe not the beginning beginning. By the time I started watching in the mid seventies, it was already on re-run in Australia, shown at 5pm Mon to Fri. But I still count myself as one of the near-original fans of this truly wonderful, virtuoso show.

This episode sets up the initial premise as well as introducing the character’s that will propel the series forward for a total of 83 instalments across three seasons.

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The Jupiter 2 spacecraft, powered by atomic motors, is launched from Earth on October 16, 1997 on a $30 billion mission to colonize a planet lying within Alpha Centauri – the real life star system four light years away. On board are the Robinson family – consisting of Professor John Robinson, his wife Maureen, daughters Judy and Penny and son Will – as well as Major Don West. We are told via voice-over the Robinsons have been selected from over two million applicants for the mission for their “unique combination of scientific achievement, emotional stability and pioneering resourcefulness”. Prior to lift off the crew tune into a special address from the President.

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The uncredited part of The President was played by classic character actor Ford Rainey (1908 – 2005). Rainey also played Presidents in episodes of other 1960’s TV series THE TIME TUNNEL and VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. Ford Rainey continued to act into his nineties and had a reoccuring role in the early 2000’s on another one of my favourite television series THE KING OF QUEENS.

Trapped on board after takeoff is the Robinson’s pre-flight medical doctor Colonel Smith (later to become known as Dr Smith) who is really a double agent working for a foreign government. Smith’s intent is to sabotage the mission. His extra weight on board throws the ship off course and, not helped by a battering meteor shower, they all become ‘hopelessly lost in space’.

This episode features –

  • the ‘environmental control robot’ attempting to kill everyone on board courtesy of tampering by Smith
  • an extended sequence where all aboard experience anti-gravity for the first time
  • a hazardous space-walk by John Robinson to repair a sensor on the outer hull Capture
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  • Shiny Silver Bling Spacesuits

  • Dr Smith being addressed as ‘Colonel Smith’ (it won’t last long)

  • Smith’s gender-bending eye-shadow

  • Dr Smith’s heart symbol ringCaptureDid you know?

  • Guy Williams, who played the role of Professor John Robinson for all three seasons of LOST IN SPACE  never acted again after the series finished at the end of 1968. He chose instead to retire to Argentina.
  • Check out Guy’s original 4 minute screen test for LOST IN SPACE

15 thoughts on “Episode One -The Reluctant Stowaway

  1. So, yeah, that IS eye shadow on Dr. Smith, isn’t it?! To what–make him look more sinister, I guess.
    What a nice start, and 82 more episodes to go!
    1. Don’t remember Dr. Smith’s ring.
    2. Interesting that Guy Williams retired after this. I wondered if it was due to negative acting experiences, but I looked it up, and he just wanted to enjoy his wealth. Good move. (he did die pretty young, though–65)
    3. We used to caption the King of Queens, and it was one of my favorite shows too. My favorite character was the father living in the basement.
    4. minor but still relatable digression: You know the remake of Lost in Space from the ’90s? My husband and I always wondered why the hell Billy M. didn’t play the part of the older son. He would have been around the same age as the actor who played him. Any backstory on that?
    Anyway–congrats !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once more you have scaled the greatest heights in your commenting prowess Stacey and I am all the better for it.

      I am so glad to find another person who loves THE KING OF QUEENS.
      Jerry Stiller (Ben’s father) as Carrie Heffernan’s widowed father Arthur Spooner (played by Jerry Stiller) could always be relied upon in that show to deliver some great lines. I particuarly remember the episode where Arthur set his sights on being awarded the accolade of ‘Starbucks Customer of the Month’ with hilarious results. I also used to like how Deacon would refer to him as ‘the old man’. In the 9th and final season Arthur actually marries Spence’s mother (played by Anne Meara, Stiller’s real-life wife). I am still left wondering however what you meant when you said – “We used to caption the King of Queens.”

      Unfortunately the less said for me about the droll and lifeless 1998 full length movie adaption of LOST IN SPACE the better. I know Box Office magazine at the time called it “the dumbest and least imaginative adaptation of a television series yet translated to the screen” and I definitely agree. The actors who played Will and Penny Robinson (Jack Johnson and lacey Chabert) in particular came across us unengaging and plain annoying, so unlike the original incarnations of those roles.

      The story with Billy Mummy was that he was offered a cameo part in the film but turned it down after being told he would not be considered for the part he wanted — the role of the older Will Robinson — because, he was told, that would “confuse the audience.”

      June Lockhart, Dick Tufeld (voice of the original robot), Mark Goddard, Angela Cartwright and Marta Kristen all did accept cameo roles in the film. Jonathon Harris (the original Dr Smith) also turned down a cameo role since he was not offered the part he wanted.

      This trailer is the classic example of making a dull and sterile movie look potentially exciting and worth seeing by splicing together attempted dramatic moments and then condensing them into a two minute package.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been delighted to find that Mr. Williams real name was Armando Catalano and that his parents were from Sicily (where certainly this family name is rather common, because Sicily was ruled by Catalans for some centuries in the Middle Age and many people from my land went to live there. Aside of this, well… I think that man was very handsome indeed and much likeable in every aspect I have read about :)) yummm !!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Whether he had in hand a swashbuckling cutlass or a state-of-the-art lazer gun he did indeed cut a fine figure, as you say.

    Can’t you imagine the whole Hollywood renaming process?

    What’s his name? Armando Catalano? Hmmmm… doesn’t quite roll off the tongue now does it? And it’s not exactly what anyone would call ‘all American’ is it? We need something more pronounceable…more household name-ish…. more male… more macho…. more guy!
    Hmmmm…. think…. think….

    I know! I’ve got it!

    How about – Guy Williams!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha ha ! Yes, Hollywood is a bit annoying renaming actors –I recall now that Margarita Carmen Cansino became Rita Hayworth, and I still wonder why.

      Like

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