After another instance of Smith (I’m pretty much dropping the pretence of bothering to call him ‘Doctor’ from this point as frankly his conduct doesn’t warrant use of such a title) displaying a lack of responsibility, this time over his neglected tendering of the hydroponic garden as well as rough handling of a fuel cell which results in an explosion, a confrontation with John and Don ensues and Smith leaves (not for the last time) the Robinson camp to fend for himself. He takes one laser gun with him.
Will feels sorry for him and the next morning takes him some food after Smith has spent the night cold and alone. While together the pair stumble upon an old, abandoned spaceship covered in debris and cobwebs. Inside they find an ‘electrical helmet’ that converts all thought wishes into real objects. In quick time Smith sets himself up in the lap of luxury via things he has created using the ‘Aladdin’s Lamp’ thought helmet.
Smith returns to the Jupiter 2 bearing gifts for the Robinson’s he has manifested using the throught-transfer machine. Smith‘s plan is to use the machine to create a replica Jupiter 2 and use it to fly back to Earth. He attempts this but the machine ends up only producing a miniature space ship.
Meanwhile, the thought machine has started to create disharmony within the Robinson family. One by one everyone starts to forget their work chores and opt for the easy life made possible by a machine that makes dreams come true. John requests Smith get rid of the thought helmet and when he refuses he again departs the Jupiter 2.
The Robinson’s then begin to discover that everything created by the thought machine – including food and items of clothing – is starting to rapidly spoil, break, disintegrate and generally fall apart.
Next, Smith, using the magic helmet, wishes for a servant to bring him coffee. Soon the creature Smith has created tries to obtain the machine for its own purposes. Smith retreats back to the Jupiter 2 with the creature in hot pursuit. Only the ship’s forcefield prevents the creature gaining entry. Eventually Smith is persuaded by the Robinsons to give back to the creature what it wants – the machine. We are led to the conclusion that when Dr Smith began using the creature as his own personal slave the machine somehow ‘sensed’ he had gone too far.
The anti-overconsumption message of this episode which reminds us that more material things do not necessarily bring more happiness is as relevant today as when this episode first aired more than half a century ago.
The actor who portrayed Will Robinson in LOST IN SPACE, Billy Mumy, also featured in another successful and long running television sci-fi series. Mumy played in all 5 seasons (109 episodes) of the series BABYLON 5 from 1994 – 1998.