1 9 6 5 – 1 9 6 8 (USA)
83 x 50 minute episodes
Lost in Space was a show about the Robinson Family – Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams), his wife Maureen (June Lockhart), and their three children, Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Cartwright) and Will (Bill Mumy) – who blasted off in 1997 aboard the Jupiter II spaceship.
Accompanied by pilot Major Don West (Mark Goddard) – and their robot – they were off on a five-year mission to explore a planet in the Alpha Centauri star planetary system, resting in suspended animation for 98 years until they arrived there.
Unfortunately, Dr Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), who worked for an unnamed foreign government, sabotaged the control system, but got stuck on board in the process and put the craft on course for a crash landing.
The family awaken to find themselves on an unknown planet, out of communication with the rest of the universe.
Each week, the family tried to return home with Dr Smith sabotaging their efforts while himself trying to get back to Earth.
For three years they wandered from planet to planet trying to find their way home.
Along the way, they encountered every peril possible, including space dogs, carrot monsters, giant plants, floating heads, and galactic showmen, as well as the conniving Dr Smith who struck a bargain with every extra-terrestrial in town to save his own skin.
The robot was created by art director Robert Kinoshita (who also created Robby the Robot for the 1956 feature film, The Forbidden Planet) and operated from inside by actor Bob May.
Built from fibreglass, rubber and plastic, the robot was very heavy – the top half alone weighed 250lbs and took two to four men to attach it to the bottom half. Dick Tufeld provided the voice, uttering the immortal words “Warning! Warning!” and “Danger, Will Robinson!”
The Robot was truly multi-skilled – He could play the guitar, fix Mrs Robinson’s hair and write poetry.
But the main attraction of Lost In Space to me as a kid wasn’t the robot. It was Judy Robinson!
The first season (in black & white) was a run of the mill space drama, and was concerned mainly with the survival of the Robinson’s: Escaping the heat, finding water etc, and included Debbie the space ape with pointy ears.
The second series (in colour) was considerably more camp, particularly the role of Dr Smith (pictured below right) who suddenly ceased to be so sinister and provided comedic value instead, usually involving a stream of abuse toward the robot – “you bubble-headed booby!”.
Guy Williams died from a heart attack in 1989.
The machine used to create “duplicates” of Dr Smith in the episode ‘Space Destructors’ was actually an automated cake-maker taken from a defunct bakery.
The space-hippie in the episode ‘Collision of Planets’ was played by Daniel Trevanti of Hill Street Blues fame.
PS: You will note there is no mention here of the 90s movie of the same name. Without putting too fine a point on it, this is because it was a load of crap.
Professor John Robinson
Dr Zachary Smith