The original science fiction series Lost in Space was a rival of Star Trek: TOS. Lost in Space is now about to have a reboot series released on Netflix.
In the 1960s, Hollywood filmmaker Irwin Allen turned from producing features to the medium of television, which was growing quite popular in that decade. After creating another sci-fi show the previous year, in 1965 Allen made plans for a robinsonade-style sci-fi tale. In fact, the family’s name was Robinson. It was called Lost in Space.
The original Lost in Space series
The original TV show ran from 1965 to 1968. 1968 became a historic year for sci-fi, producing such classics as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes. Though it showed elements resembling past sci-fi entertainment, Lost in Space became a national sensation. Netflix’s series will not be the first time the LIS story has been retold.
I guess we “celebrate” the 50th anniversary of the show’s cancellation this year. That sounds bad to say that. We commemorate it then; we pause and reflect on how it has been forgotten and re-examined for the past five decades.
The original TV series was made up of a fantastic cast, headed by Guy Williams, who had previously starred in the title role of the Walt Disney TV show Zorro. Williams played the father of the clan, Professor John Robinson. June Lockhart of Lassie portrayed his spouse Maureen Robinson. The villain, Dr. Zachary Smith, was played by Jonathan Harris who had guest starred in some episodes of The Twilight Zone.
This TV show included elements of comedy, horror, and suspense throughout its three-year run. For the most part, their adventures are terrestrial. But by Season 3, the Robinsons are traveling to a new planet in every episode aboard their spacecraft, the Jupiter 2.
Smith, young Will Robinson, Robot B-9, and the rest of the gang bumped into some pretty weird folks up there while they were lost. Perhaps best known among these guest characters was Thor, Norse god of lightning and popular Marvel superhero. This cameo appeared in the episode “The Space Vikings.”
John Williams, the future composer of the Star Wars saga, composed all of the main recurring musical scores for the series. As mentioned earlier in the article, Lost in Space and Star Trek competed for ratings.
If you watch the two series, you will actually notice the planets both casts of characters visit often look quite similar.
Alexander Courage, the original Star Trek music composer, also did work for some of Irwin Allen’s work in the 1960s, including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and even Lost in Space. Following Lost in Space, Allen created two more sci-fi TV series: The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants.
Aside from the obvious link to Star Wars through John Williams, many fans of the original LIS think George Lucas may have gotten the lightsaber concept from this show. Several episodes in Season 1 picture aliens using swords with electrically charged blades, which produce sparks when they come in contact with other objects.
The different Forms Lost in Space Took in Later Years
One of the things that probably helped to revive Star Trek‘s popularity was the animated series that was first produced in 1973. Ironically, it was also in 1973 that Lost in Space was adapted into an animated special, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera Studios and ran about 44 minutes. Jonathan Harris even returned to voice Dr. Smith.
Several decades after that, in 1998, Lost in Space the motion picture was released. Several of the LIS TV show cast appeared in cameo roles. Unfortunately, the movie and the animated TV special were not huge successes.
Bill Mumy even tried to get a script for a LIS reunion film produced into a TV movie, but when he contacted Irwin Allen, the series creator denied the request for various reasons.
Most recently, Lost in Space is being rebooted as a 10-episode series on Netflix. And the show comes out this month. Mumy met up with the new actor playing Will, Maxwell Jenkins. He has also stated fans of the original series are going to like this reboot.
So what should you expect from the Lost in Space Netflix series?
I love the imagery: the landscapes, the fungi on the tree, the majestic moth-like organism that flies onto the robot’s hand. It looks enticing, vivid, emotional, and clean. I’m really excited about it, as are many sci-fi geeks.
In short, I expect it to be pretty solid. Obviously, the robot is not the clunky but beloved B-9 of the sixties because this bot has an alien origin. What I’ve noticed is that this new robot that Will Robinson meets is a character that was likely morphed out of several different robots in the original LIS. B-9 was Will’s friend and guardian; an alien robot we see in Season 1 was found and restored to full power by young Will; and lastly, an alien android we see in Season 2 plays ball with Will.
In the trailer alone, we already see this alien robot display all of the qualities of those robots depicted in the original series. All of these aspects have been bundled up into a single character. For now, we just have to wait.
If you’re not a Lost in Space loyal, here are the 10 best moments from Star Trek: Discover season one.