Episode 23 – The Space Trader

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A violent storm destroys the Robinson’s outdoor hydroponic food garden and water conversion equipment. They are forced to survive on high protein pills for food and a limited emergency water supply.

They encounter a man who calls himself The Trader. He runs a shop that buys and sells all manner of things. We learn The Trader has used a machine to artificially create the storm to force the Robinsons into a desperate situation where they are in urgent need and therefore more likely to do business with him.

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The machine everyone is looking at is The Trader’s Weather Changing Device. He uses this to ‘manipulate the market’, creating disadvantaged conditions for buyers and thereby unfairly altering the supply and demand chain. Corrupt business tactics 1 0 1 in other words.

The Trader makes it known in his ‘preservation unit’ he has “tender vegetables, the most succulent steaks, sweet melons, pastries and candies covered in rich chocolate”. Tired of having no fresh food due to the destruction caused by the storm, Will and Smith are tempted to consider a deal with him. Will asks, “It sounds great Mr Trader but what would you want for those things?” It soon becomes clear what The Trader wants is the family’s robot.

In an act of treachery considered low by even his standards, Smith delivers the robot to The Trader late one night. In their first united act of retribution, the entire Robinson family including Don decide to stop talking to Dr Smith. Feeling the heat, Smith apologizes and agrees to go to The Trader to retrieve the robot.

The Trader agrees to give back the robot back if Dr Smith will offer himself in its place. Smith is reluctant at first but The Trader says the contract states he will not take possession of Dr Smith for another 200 years. Smith ‘signs’ the electronic palm-print contract and the robot is returned.

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Later The Trader enters the Robinson’s camp and declares he is there to collect his item, Dr Smith. Smith and Will both protest, reminding The Trader of the 200 years in the future collection agreement. The Trader responds they should have checked the fine print. Things turn heavy before the robot steps in and zaps The Trader, destroying the contract in the process.

The episode ends with the robot remarking – “Forgive me but I must say it – this is one time Dr Smith where you received MORE than you bargained for”.

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The actor who played The Trader was former schoolteacher Torin Thatcher (1905 – 1981).Capture

He was known for his flashy portrayal of screen villians. Thatcher featured in a great many movies including three personal favourites of mine –

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He also featured in a Season One episode of STAR TREK called THE RETURN OF THE ARCHONS. Thatcher played the role of Marplon, one of the high priests on a planet known as Beta III.

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