1965: Lost In Space – “The Reluctant Stowaway”

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Air date: September 15 1965
There was actually an unaired pilot starring just the Robinson Family and Major West, but it was rewritten into what is now “The Reluctant Stowaways” and included Dr. Smith and The Robot. Both are available on iTunes.

The premise:
It is the distant future, the year 1997 and our world is dangerously overpopulated, and we believe we have found our salvation in the Alpha Centauri system. One of its planets is the only planet within our technological reach capable of sustaining human life.

The advancements of 1997 technology:
The Jupiter 2
A saucer shaped space craft equipped with hyperdrive, artificial gravity, autopilot and stasis chambers capable of keeping the crew asleep for its 5.5 year voyage. This craft serves as both transportation and living accommodations upon arrival of their destination.
The Robot
A robot used to help the crew and maintain the ship when they arrive at Alpha Centauri. Some believe that this is the same robot as Robby seen in Forbidden Planet. While both designed by Robert Kinoshita, they are in fact different robots. The Robby suit does make a couple of appearances though, later in the series.

The crew:
Meet the Robinsons, a family of 5 who have been chosen as being the first what could be an upward of 10 million families per year to make this journey. Dr. John Robinson is the head of both his family and the mission. Dr Maureen Robinson is Johns wife and apparently not much more beyond that. Wikipedia had this to say about her; “John’s biochemist wife. Her role in the series is often to prepare meals, tend the garden, and help with light construction while adding a voice of compassion. Her status as a doctor is mentioned only in the first episode and in the second season episode “The Astral Traveler.” The family is rounded out with their 3 children Judy, Penny, and Will, who make the show relatable to all ages.
Joining the Robinson’s is Major Don West, there to pilot their ship, the Jupiter 2, should anything go wrong.

Where everything goes wrong:
The last human member of the show is Dr. Zachary Smith. Working for an unknown source who does not want the mission to be a success, Smith (who is either military or infiltrated the military and has access to the Jupiter 2) is on the craft minutes before its departure. When he realizes he botched an attempt at sabatoge, he slips away and to fix it but ends up stuck on board during launch. Now with a “Reluctant Stowaway”, the title of this episode, and extra weight on board, the Jupiter 2 goes off course and loses contact with earth. Awaking the Major West and the Robinson Family they manage to make their way through a meteor field that this detour of course has brought them to. Finally, Smith act of sabotage introduces finally goes off. He had tampered with The Robots programming (unsuccessfully, then successfully, then unsuccessfully changed him back, what a bafoon) it takes John and Don’s heroics to stop The Robot, but in the process the Jupiter 2 goes into hyperdrive getting the whole crew lost… Lost in Space!

I feel this show had several good things going for it. Rounded out cast, true family appeal, not just “family appeal” that means it’s a kids show, and balance of subtle comedy, science fiction, adventure and family dynamics. This show had lots of potential and lots of areas to bring story.

This is a tv show that I will always have a soft spot for in my heart. As a kid I would watch it as often as I could (mostly over the summer) with my mom who had also been a fan of the show as a kid.

Lost in Space was later remade as a film in 1998 starring Joey from Friends, Commissioner Gordon, General Ross and featured cameo appearances by many of the original stars. It did not do very well. I suggest watching the show before the movie, or maybe instead of the movie. Just kidding, but seriously, don’t watch it.

Large question on my mind… If this is what happened to the Jupiter 2… What happened to the Jupiter 1?

Thanks for reading! See you in the future!

Image from Hulu

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