The farthest-out TV show so far: Lost in Space
A ‘typical’ American family becomes marooned in space for the upcoming season
By Don Royal
The year is 1997. On an uncharted planet, somewhere in the infinite reaches of the universe, an American family is marooned while on a voyage to colonize a new world.
This is the suspenseful situation for Lost In Space, an out-of-this-world adventure series which opens new frontiers in fun and fantasy beginning Wednesday, Sept. 15, 6:30-7:30 pm. on the CBS-TV network.
Fantastic? Perhaps, but not nearly so much a strain on the imagination in today’s space age as it would have been a few decades ago, before science fiction became fact.
The space race of the 1960s has enlarged the horizons of man’s dreams of finding new life among the stars.
Irwin Allen, a producer who keeps his feet on the ground and his head in the clouds, is leading the race to adapt these dreams for television entertainment.
In Lost in Space, he has taken science fact, put together with nuts and bolts a space vehicle of science fiction, and launched a space spectacle which he describes as “bigger than life.”
This is an apt description of his fantasies of the future. The thrills of interplanetary travel, the exotic environment of an unknown planet and the discovery of strange space creatures lead to high adventure for the world’s first space colonists.
Grandfather no longer has a monopoly of stories on the great old “continued next week” gaspers of an earlier era. True, the heroine won’t be tied to the railroad track, but what happens in late 20th-century guise will offer just as many possibilities for excited speculation as to what comes next.
The suspense is heightened by the serial story treatment — in which the actors portraying the family of an American physicist are left on the brink of new hazards at the end of each episode. They, in turn, confront an assortment of way-out adventures, isolated from the rest of the universe.
Lost In Space is literally a “cliff-hanger,” one of the first prime-time television shows to use such a technique.
Guy Williams and June Lockhart star as Prof. John Robinson, an astrophysicist, and his wife, Maureen, a biochemist. They embark with their family on a journey through outer space, and become stranded on an unknown planet after their spacecraft is thrown off-course by a swarm of meteors.
Mark Goddard costars as Major Donald West, a young space geologist and pilot who accompanies the Robinsons on the expedition. Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy and Angela Cartwright are the Robinson children — Judy, Will and Penny, respectively.
The Robinsons embark on their voyage as the first stage of a pioneering program aimed at opening new frontiers in space to relieve the overcrowded conditions on our own planet.
They have been chosen by a worldwide computer system as the healthiest. brightest and most competent representatives to show the way for others with hopes of homesteading among the stars.
Other nations, more desperately in need of breathing room, are racing the United States for access to the nearest planets believed capable of supporting humans.
The Robinson mission is diverted when Col. Zachary Smith, an agent for another nation, stows away on their spacecraft with a robot programmed to sabotage the rocket mid-flight.
Smith and the robot become adversaries of the Robinsons in space.
Lost In Space is the brainchild of Irwin Allen, whose first television series was Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
All of Allen’s productions show his flair for imaginative, flamboyant spectacles with meticulous attention to detail. He is supported by some of the most able and experienced artists in Hollywood.
His producer for Lost In Space is Buck Houghton, who produced Rod Serling’s Emmy-winning Twilight Zone.
Allen’s astronauts are as all-American as any typical family from Main Street, U.S.A.
Guy Williams was a favorite of millions as the swashbuckling hero of the Zorro series. June Lockhart is familiar to television audiences as star for six seasons on the Lassie show. Both Williams and Miss Lockhart create new images for themselves in Lost In Space.
Without the mask and mustache of Zorro, Williams emerges as a new personality more at home at the controls of a rocket ship than at the reins of a horse. Miss Lockhart looks far more like her own glamorous self in the space fashions of the future than in the gingham gowns worn as Lassie’s mistress.
Mark Goddard and Marta Kristen are handsome young actors cast in challenging roles. Goddard, as a geologist and rocket pilot, and Miss Kristen, as the eldest daughter of the Robinsons, seem destined for romance in outer space.
This space show is Goddard’s fourth television series. He previously appeared as Cully, a trick-shot expert on Johnny Ringo, a western; as Chris Ballard, a detective on Robert Taylor’s Detectives; and as Bob Randall, a young husband and father in Many Happy Returns.
Marta Kristen, a blue-eyed blonde born in Norway and reared in Detroit, is cast in her first major role since she began her career by testing for the role of “Lolita.”
Although she lost that part, she has been winning increasingly better roles on a number of television shows and in two movies, “Savage Sam” and “Beach Blanket Bingo.”
The other Robinson children are played by 11-year-old Billy Mumy and 13-year-old Angela Cartwright, already veteran performers in television and motion pictures.
Lost in Space theme song & credits
The Lost in Space theme song was written by John Williams — later famous for the Star Wars theme