Classic camp sci-fi series from the Sixties that lasted three seasons. Featured the adventures of the Space Family Robinson, Major West, the Robot and shanghaied saboteur Dr. Smith as they search for Earth, after they become Lost... In Space.Lost in Space was a rival for Star Trek: The Original Series in the realm of serious sci-fi, which might explain the show's turn from serious Speculative Fiction into Fantastic Comedy to keep a share of the viewing audience. Notable for its beautiful music (including two opening themes by Johnny Williams (as John Williams was then known), sets, skin tight ski-spacesuits, aliens, inventive and surreal plots, and highly articulated Robot, itself a "cousin" of Robbie from the film Forbidden Planet (who also guest starred on the show). The original plot had the Robinsons as explorer/settlers, with Dr. Smith as a saboteur paid to program The Robot to kill the Robinsons and ruin their mission. The first episodes were in black and white and involved exploring the planet they crash-landed on. When the show shifted to camp it involved their conflicts with resident or visiting aliens of all sorts.One of a family of shows created by Irwin Allen, along with Land of the Giants, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and The Time Tunnel.May well be one of the classics of sci-fi for no other reason than the scene-chewing Large Ham glory of Jonathan Harris (Dr. Smith) and his pained and witty repartee with the Robot. While its going from serious to camp may well have been a blow to later efforts at serious sci-fi, it was nonetheless a surreal joy to watch. The recent attempts to reboot it as a serious series may be doomed to fail because of this, as it's best remembered as a humorous series.The series received a film adaptation in 1998. It was a modest box office hitnote best remembered for knocking Titanic out of the #1 box office position it had occupied for four months but often dismissed as a "dim-witted shoot-'em-up" by critics. An attempt to create a television remake in 2003-2004 went nowhere.The ensemble consisted of:
Prof. John Robinson - Head of the family and mission, The Professor and The Captain. In the comic book he seems to have been a minister as well (said to be based on material in the original series writers' guide that never made it into the finished show). In the series played by Guy Williams, in the film by William Hurt. The would-be revival cast Brad Johnson in the role.
Maureen Robinson - Mother and occasional Only Sane Woman. She was an extremely old-fashioned House Wife, a little lacking in the brains department. (In the pilot, it was mentioned that she had a PhD in biochemistry, something that was never brought up again.) In the series played by June Lockhart, in the film by Mimi Rogers. The would-be revival cast Jayne Brook in the role. In the film, June Lockhart had a brief cameo as the school principal.
Major Don West -The Lancer and The Ace pilot. In the series played by Mark Goddard, in the film by Matt LeBlanc. The would-be revival cast Mike Erwin in the role. In the film, Mark Goddard plays the part of the general who gives Major West the order to be the pilot for the Jupiter II.
Judy Robinson -Distressed Damsel and perpetual love interest to Major West. She could get annoyingly wangsty in episodes centering on her. In the series played by Marta Kristen, in the film by Heather Graham. The would-be revival cast Adrianne Palicki in the role. In the film, Marta was one of the reporters at the pre-launch press briefing.
Penny Robinson - Not old enough to be a sex symbol like her sister nor as smart as her younger brother, Penny usually just took up scenery. Friend to All Living Things and, despite being ignored, got a few A Day in the Limelight moments, which often involved wars. In the series played by Angela Cartwright, in the film by Lacey Chabert. The would-be-revival had not included this role. Considered an Ensemble Darkhorse by many. In the film, Angela was also one of the reporters at the pre-launch press briefing.
Will Robinson -Boy Genius, Morality Pet for Dr. Smith and occasionally a Creator's Pet. In the series played by Bill Mumy, in the film by both Jack Johnson and Jared Harris. The would-be revival cast Ryan Malgarini in the role.
Dr. Zachary Smith -Jerkass, clown and Large Ham, ineffectual, cowardly traitor and Too Dumb to Live when it comes to dealing with aliens. Frequently infuriated by The Robot. In the series played by Jonathan Harris, in the film by both Gary Oldman and William Todd Jones. The would-be-revival had not included this role.
The Robot -Genius Bruiser and Tin Man with a kind heart. Frequent foil to Dr. Smith. In the series, played by Bob May and voiced by Dick Tufeld. Tufeld returned to the role for the film. The would-be-revival had not included this role.
Not to be confused with some sort of strange sci-fi cast-away show; that would be LOSTIn Space!
Adaptation Distillation: The short-lived comic book written by Bill Mumy is remarkably well done. It assumes that the transition to Camp reflects the embellishments young Penny used when recording the crew's adventures in her diary, and that the tone of their adventures actually stayed much truer to the tone of the early episodes. It's set several years after the last episode, with Will in his teens and Penny now a blossoming young woman. The Robot is scaled back to his original portrayal of being mostly nonsentient, but is slowly developing self-awareness as more and more alien components have been added to him over the years. All the characters' personalities are explored in depth, and the art is wonderful. One jarring element, however, is the shamelessly cheesecake style that grown-up Penny is drawn in (well, it was the Nineties, after all).
Animated Adaptation: After the series was canceled, a pilot for a cartoon version was created. The show was completely changed - the family was no longer the Robinsons, the Jupiter2 completely redesigned into a more rocket looking space craft, the Robot given a much more generic robot voice, Dr Smith a member of the crew from the beginning - the only things remaining from the original series being Dr Smith (voiced by Jonathan Harris), the Robot, and the fact that they were ...well.. lost in space.
Arbitrary Skepticism: In the movie, John Robinson frequently dismisses Will's ideas on time travel, despite having built a hyperdrive engine that works by folding two points of space-time together. Because extending the application of such a device to allow travel along the fourth dimension is any less plausible?
Bigger on the Inside: Between the pilot and the first aired episode, a second deck was added to the Jupiter 2, with no modification of the FX miniature. While clever direction and the ship’s status as a crash-landed derelict hid this through the first season, the more spaceflight oriented episodes of the second and third seasons soon made it obvious that the interiors couldn’t possibly fit inside the exterior. Made worse when a third-season episode, "Space Creature," gratuitously added yet a third, ridiculously large, “power core” deck, which was then never heard from again.
Blood Oath: "The Space Pirate". The title character makes Will Smith take the Pirate's Oath, which involves pricking a finger on each of their hands, putting their bloody fingers together and Will repeating the Oath after the pirate.
The Cast Show Off: Billy Mumy, a talented guitar player and singer, got to perform "Green Sleeves" in one episode and "Sloop John B" in another. Also, Guy Williams, who played Zorro, got to show off his fencing skills more than once.
Catch Phrase: Dr. Smith's "Have no fear, Smith is here!" boast. Also his "The pain, oh, the pain." And the Robot's "Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!"
Conflict Ball: John to Will in the movie when being merely neglectful somehow wasn't enough to make him a bad father.
Cloning Blues: The cast were cloned by exotic means far too many ways to list. Most clones were bad: a few were good.
Comically Missing the Point: In the film, John Robinson informs us that the Earth has ended all war and conflict... then immediately afterwards, comments on the Global Sedition who like to perform terrorist attacks on their installations. Err, run that by us again, Doc?
Conspicuous CG: Blaarp, the comic relief alien monkey in the movie. While most of the effects hold up fairly well, the CG for Blaarp was terrible even for the time
Crush. Kill. Destroy!: The Trope Namer. This line is often wrongly attributed to The Robot, who does use the term "Destroy" several times in the pilot during his rampage. It's Killer Android IDAK Alpha 12 who says this in the episode titled "Revolt of the Androids." Despite its use in only one episode, it became a more famous line than "Destroy" and was thus attributed to the main character robot.
Do a Barrel Roll: In the film, the Jupiter 2's original attempt to escape the planet failed due to insufficient power resulting in the destruction of the ship and deaths of everyone aboard. The second time they attempt the escape, Major West decides to escape by flying the ship down into the rapidly disintegrating planet, gaining enough speed to escape by the time the planet has completely torn itself apart before they fly out the other side.
Dueling Shows: The great contemporary rival of Star Trek, which CBS passed over for this series. (Ironically enough, after several mergers and acquisitions, CBS now ownsStar Trek...but the head of CBS won't have a Star Trek show on CBS, the CW, or Showtime.)
Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: In "Invaders From The Fifth Dimension" Will Robinson is abducted by a group of aliens who are repulsed by the sight of tears due to being unable to understand emotions, and eventually let him go as a result.
Fake Guest Star: Jonathan Harris, who plays Dr. Smith. He was originally going to be killed off after the first few episodes, but he was such a fun character that they decided to keep him around and left him with the "Guest Starring" billing in the credits.
Fantastic Voyage Plot: In one of the more clever episodes, Will Robinson and Dr. Smith find a severely malfunctioning robot who has become a giant due to his problem. The two have to physically enter the robot's body to fix him. However, the major complication is that they know that the second they are successful, the robot's body would start shrinking to normal size and they would have only seconds to escape before they are crushed. Naturally, the pair escape just in time before it was too late.
Five-Episode Pilot: This was actually not the intention; there was the original unaired pilot. However, after adding the characters of Dr. Smith and the robot, it was necessary to shoehorn the two characters in. This resulted in splitting various scenes, as well as adding various scenes, to make five episodes.
Frying Pan of Doom: Judy Robinson wields one in "Welcome Stranger", knocking Jimmy Hapgood out during his fight with Don. As a Call Back in the season two episode "A Visit To Hades", she tries this again with a pipe, only this time she hits Don instead of the guy he's scuffling with.
Genre Blind: Probably as a side effect of its transformation into a disguised Sitcom.
Genre Savvy: However, they occasionally showed some remarkable flashes of savviness — such as in the episode where they met the Norse gods, and Dr. Smith employs the Robot's replicator and his wits to manipulate them using a challenge not unlike one from Norse Mythology.
Idiot Ball / Idiot Plot: In the movie, John Robinson is going to Alpha Prime to lead the team that will begin construction of the Hypergate that will connect to Earth, being in stasis for the ten year journey there. In that time, the Earth Gate will be hopefully completed in Earth orbit. Sounds good, except it won't have anything to connect to! Construction at Alpha Prime won't even begin until he arrives and when he does, it should take another ten years to build their Gate! Thus, it will take 20 years until the project is complete, the exact amount of time the planet has left until it dies. Either no-one realises this, or they do and don't point it out, but either way, isn't this plan cutting it pretty close, Doc?
Further more, try and figure out why the Jupiter 2 has a Hyperdrive installed, when it's rendered completely useless without the Hypergate to guide it to it's destination? After they built the Alpha Gate did they intend to come back? Earth would have become uninhabitable by that point!
In the near-finale of the movie, Future-Will constructed a working time portal, which he planned to use to jump back to the day of the launch that sent him, his family and Smith on the catastrophic journey the movie explored. As it turns out, Future-Smith, now a giant spider mutant, planned to hijack the time portal and flood the Earth with his alien spider swarm and dominate the world. Seems legit, and it provides a fight for the past as John and Future-Will kill Future-Smith with his own swarm. So, with a time portal free for a single one-way trip, John is going to go back and stop his family from becoming lost in space, right? Actually, he decides to jump back a few minutes to prevent his present-day family from being killed in a meteor shower. Um... kay.
Actually, it's more to do with the fact that the gravity and temporal anomalies from the machine might potentially rip the Earth apart as it had done the planet they were on. Thus, the reason why it was "safer" to travel just a few minutes earlier was because the planet was already collapsing at that point.
Inferred Holocaust: In the movie, since the Proteus had an entire sphere housing a botanical garden, it's possible it was one of many Space-Arks built to contain the last survivors of the human race; since without John Robinson to lead the team in building the Hypergate at Alpha Prime, Humanity would have been utterly screwed when the planet became uninhabitable.
And it's heavily implied that Blarp's vessel wasn't the first ship the Spiders stowed away on. Particularly since it's shown that they can survive in the vacuum of space and remain dormant for decades at a time and mutate other creatures into hosts to incubate their young...
Lampshade Hanging: At least one example: In the season two opener, "Blastoff Into Space", the fact that the Robinsons seem to have any object no matter how improbable or unlikely with them on the ship is lampshaded when Maureen tells the family to throw overboard any non-essential items. Cut to a ridiculously large pile of stuff like bowling pins, floor lamps, a fishbowl, skis, etc.
Large Ham: Jonathan Harris's deliciously vile portrayal of Dr. Smith. Gary Oldman, as expected, is quite the ham as Dr. Smith in the movie. Oddly enough, Penny in the movie is a borderline example. While everyone else but Oldman suffers from Dull Surprise, she (particularly in her video diaries) speaks her lines loudly and very fast, all in a very high, excitable voice.
A lot of the guest stars in the original show, especially Fritz Feld as Zumdish (who appeared in 3 episodes), Leonard Stone as Farnum (who appeared in 2), as well as the one-time appearance by Al Lewis (aka. Grandpa Munster).
And Stanley "Cyrano Jones" Adams as "Tybo" the evil carrot in "The Great Vegetable Rebellion"
Latex Space Suit: A staple of the show's costuming, and featured early on the the movie as "cryosuits" for deep sleep. They are, predictably, highly revealing in their tightness (the plastic suits of the movie were literally moulded from the actors, leaving the female characters seeming a little exposed in them).
Left Hanging: Like most high-concept Sit Coms of the era it was canceled without advance warning, with the last episode "in the can" at the time becoming the Last Episode, because that's how the business was done at the time. Bill Mumy later wrote a song about his character as the group's now middle-aged sole survivor still out there with only the Robot for companionship, that qualifies as a semi-CanonPoison Oak Epileptic Tree, and it was a plot point in The Movie.
Lighter and Softer: Dr. Smith in the main series is this compared to his portrayal in the pilot. Jonathan Harris deliberately lightened the character because the Robinsons would never have allowed the flat-out villainous Smith to stay anywhere near them.
Mechanistic Alien Culture: An episode featured a mechanized society of humanoid cyborgs whose leader was a computer. They kidnapped Dr. Smith to repair the computer. They also had clock-like mechanisms on their chests which they could use to turn back or alter the flow of time.
Missing Episode: The unaired and originally unsyndicated Dr Smith-less original pilot.
Sequel Hook: In the movie, the crew are forced to use the warp drive without a gate again, sending them to potentially anywhere in the galaxy. The commentary has Akiva Goldsman excitedly talking about his plans for the sequel, which comes off as rather sad now, especially since it sounds like he was saving a lot of his better ideas for it.
There's also some implication that the star charts from the future-ship they encountered will allow them to warp to the right place, but it's never stated directly.
Not to mention, the fact that at the end of the film, Dr Smith is still alive, still a mutant and still The Starscream.
Shoo the Dog: "The Space Pirate". At the end of the episode Will wants to go with the title character and be a pirate, but the pirate insults him and refuses because he doesn't want to take Will away from his family.
The movie somehow manages to have ones to The Waltons (in the scene where the family all say "Good night" to each other - lampshaded when West says "You have got to be kidding") and, despite the unlikeliness of anyone outside Britainnote where the film was shot getting it, Dad's Army (in the final scene, when Smith runs into the cabin as they're about to blast off into space, wailing "We're doomed! We're doomed!").
The series episode "The Space Pirate". The title character was a clear reference to Long John Silver in Treasure Island, specifically his becoming Will Smith's friend and the parrot that sat on his shoulder.
Sleeper Starship: The Robinsons were supposed to make the trip in "freezing tubes."
Spider Swarm: The Spiders in the film appear to be collective, or at least attack in large number.
Star Trek Shake: Accomplished by Irwin Allen hitting a bucket so the cast knew which way to tumble.
Special Guest: Robby the Robot, from the classic film Forbidden Planet, had a few appearances on the show. However, he was sneaky and conniving if not downright evil, a huge contrast to his film personality.
Take That: In the episode "The Thief From Outer Space", the titular villain is looking for his genie girlfriend who is trapped inside of a tiny bottle. At the end of the episode, he finally encounters her and rubs the bottle...to reveal that she is vastly overweight due to eating so much marzipan and yet still wears the pink harem outfit. The entire cast is horrified and the Sultan traps her once again in the bottle, begging the family not to let her out. The episode ends with her trying to convince The Robot to rub the bottle, who is not fooled. This all makes sense when you realize that I Dream of Jeannie aired at the same timeslot as Lost In Space.
Technology Marches On: In-universe for the film. Major West gets a computer from Earth working on a ship from the future, and is amazed at how fast it is.
Time Travel: In "Visit to a Hostile Planet," the characters accidentally wind up in a small Michigan town circa 1947.
Title Drop: In the film. "There's lots of space out there to get lost in."
The Sci Fi Channel aired a marathon of LIS episodes (including the unaired pilot) on the exact day in 1997 mentioned in the aired pilot as the day the Jupiter2 was launched.
2-D Space: One of the standard-bearers of its era. Verged on 1-D space in an episode where the Jupiter II was set on a course to Earth — which was too dangerous to use because it passed directly through the sun. Apparently, the sun was too big to steer around.