Episode 6

Welcome Stranger

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This episode features an ‘alien’ that didn’t overly capture my imagination as a child, but as an adult, has me dishing unreserved praise for the performance of the actor who inhabited the role.

A space ship lands on the planet the Robinsons are marooned on and the Earth family is soon introduced to a silver space-suit wearing intergalactic cowboy – complete with southern ‘Texas’ drawl – named Jim Hapgood (for the majority of this episode his name will be pronounced ‘Halfgood’).

Brilliantly played by character actor Warren Oates (1928 – 1982) who, sixteen years later would go on to assume the role of drill sergeant Sgt Hulka opposite Bill Murray in one of my all-time favourite comedies STRIPES (1981), the Space Cowboy is full of homespun, down-on-the-farm wisdom (“You folks is lost as a bald tick on a wood mountain”) and was an obvious inclusion in keeping with CBS‘s penchant for rural themes and characters in shows of the period.

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Actor Warren Oates lived only to the relatively young age of 53 but had roles in many tv productions and films including the Steven Spielberg directed 1941 (1979) and the Bill Murray starring comedy STRIPES (1981).

John and Don help repair Hapgood’s spaceship (which he names Travellin’ Man’) and in return ask him to head to Earth and take with him their youngest two children Penny and Will. The Space Cowboy refuses and this fuels the major conflict and moral dilema – should John and Maureen seperate from their children to afford them the chance of life back on Earth – which powers the episode.

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In one memorable scene, the Space Cowboy uses a lazer gun to etch his name for posterity’s sake into a rock on the barren planet.

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