This Penny-centric episode is a much-loved favourite of mine from Season One. Actress Angela Cartwright who played Penny rates it as her most treasured episode of the entire series.
Penny feels unwanted and detached from the rest of the Robinson family. She walks off alone into a cave. Here she encounters an echoing voice that she has conversations with. She dubs the voice ‘Mr Nobody’ and proceeds to read it a book THE UGLY DUCKLING (how she herself feels).
Penny runs off again from her mother when Maureen refuses to believe her imaginary friend is real. Meanwhile Smith believes he has stumbled upon a diamond mine. ‘Mr Nobody’ (or is it Penny’s subconscious?) punishes the Robinson family for doubting Penny’s word by causing a huge electrical storm. This threatens their safety and succeeds in smashing to bits the robot.
Penny Robinson: Oh Mother, I thought you were the only one. I thought you really believed me, at least just a little bit.
Maureen Robinson: Wha… Penny! Penny, of course I do! Now, I still do, and you know why? Well, I’ll tell you a secret. When I was a little girl, I had a very special friend, too. His name was Mr. Noodles and he lived inside my teddy bear.
Penny Robinson: What?
Maureen Robinson: It’s true. I know that you’re the only one who’d understand how very very real Mr. Noodles was to me.
Penny Robinson: Oh, Mother, that’s the silliest thing I ever heard of! How can ANYONE live inside a teddy bear?
Taken out of context, this dialogue seems mildly ridiculous. Yet this episode deserves the stamp of GOLD CLASS for its sheer charm and ability to synthesise the innocence and yearning of childhood. At the same time MY FRIEND, MR NOBODY serves as a moving testament to the power of imagination as a comfort in troubled times. If you’d like it spelt out even clearer and don’t mind the cliche I add this – they don’t make ’em like this any more.
No really. They don’t.