Updated: October 19, 2020|
Based loosely on the Swiss Family Robinson classic, Lost in Space, like
Star Trek, only ran three seasons (1965-68), but like a fine wine, and
through the magic of syndication, it gained in popularity only after being
bottled. Creator Irwin Allen, known more for disaster flicks, also created
the equally odd adventure TV shows featuring stressed-out hunks: Land of
the Giants, Time Tunnel and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
Lost in Space started in black and white (with a fictional launch date of
October 1997!), and moved to color for the second and third seasons, and,
to many critics, plot-wise, into camp, à la Batman, which was that
season's competing hit. Actor Mark Goddard (temperamental Don West) has
been most vocal about being reduced to a pop icon, and claimed he didn't
know the show was campy until after they were well into production.
Perhaps if he's looked more closely at some of the ridiculous alien
costumes, he'd have gotten a clue. Some episodes featured fey villians or
absent-minded aliens (Wally Cox, Lyle Waggoner, Hans Conreid, bodybuilder
Tiger Smith) which only added to the fun.
Don's hatred of the often malicious Dr. Smith may be homophobic, but his
rage seems more pent-up desire for his partner, John Robinson, played by
the equally studly Guy Williams, who also starred in the stylish TV
version of Zorro. While the women in the cast (June Lockhart of Lassie
fame, Marta Kristen and Angela Cartwright) maintained stunning '60's
hairstyles and Jetsons-eque outfits and sometimes a lovely garden they
were mostly left to victim or household roles.
It is difficult to categorize Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris) as a
homophobic portrayal. A brilliant mind, with practical self-centered
interests (he's a sabateur trapped by accident on-ship during the
accidentally early take-off), Smith was obviously humorous, and the number of
pederastic jokes about his relationship with the guileless Will Robinson
(Bill Mumy) abound. Equally comedic is his relationship with the simply
named Robot. Sexuality is the great unspoken element in the show. In one
of the final season's episodes, "Flight Into The Future," the cast lands
in 2270 AD, finds a deserted wreck of the Jupiter-2, a monument to the
Robot, and people who say they are the descendants of the Robinsons.
Hmmmm, that would mean...?