Episode 1

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