Lost In Space - Season 1

Lost In Space - Season 1


Reviewed by: Claire Sawers

There is something about this super-kitsch Sixties sci-fi show that you can't help but like.

It's 1997. That is, it's 1997 according to people still living in the Sixties. Expect flashing lights and talking machines. Naturally, women are required to wear their hair in bouffants and men are Brylcreemed before boarding the spaceship . Planet Earth is desperately overcrowded. Someone needs to find out whether life beyond the stars can ever be possible. Enter the Robinsons. They are a model family, more than up for the challenge of entering deep space as part of an experiment.

There's brave pop John, his loving wife Maureen and smiling kids Judy, Penny and Will. They are smart and gutsy and the idea of a problem with "defective vector controls," or "maximum dynamic pressure," when they are millions of miles from home doesn't faze them one bit.

Also on board Gemini 12, where they are to be frozen in suspended animation for the next 98 years, is dreamboat starship pilot Major Don West and Dr Zachary Smith, a pesky saboteur determined to scupper their well laid plans.

When it first ran during the Sixties, Lost In Space captured the imaginations of millions, fascinated by the global space race. Before the days of Star Trek and long before sophisticated special effects movies, this gentle family TV show was an insight into the magical world of gadgets and space travel.

Will Robinson gets to carry his own laser gun and be friends with a robot. Mom Maureen gets to pull her weight and help repair faulty machinery on the outside of the spacecraft. Penny gets to flirt with dishy Don West.

It was all very cosy and no one bothered about logic, or credibility. Why should reality get in the way of a fun show about escapism? Significantly, when a modern feature film of the original TV show was made in 1998, with Matt LeBlanc, William Hurt and Heather Graham, it proved an almighty flop. Millions of dollars had been spent on special effects and gadgetry but no one had told them the show's real appeal was simplicity and wide-eyed wonderment at the world of science and time travel.

With another American TV re-make in the pipeline, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has decided to re-release the real thing in an eight disc DVD boxset of the entire first series (in black-and-white).

The original plots are consistently ridiculous: All is going well. Someone notices a flashing light on the control panel. All hell breaks loose. Lots of techno-babble ensues.

"We can't control the lineal acceleration! We're going into hyper-drive!"

The only way to resolve the problem is slip on a tinfoil jumpsuit and investigate the machinery. Obviously everything ends well. The Gemini 12 may look like its made of cardboard and tied together with string but remember, it's "the most sophisticated piece of hardware yet devised by the mind of man."

Watching the family getting out of yet another scrape in the Alpha Centauri star system is gripping stuff. There are endless technical glitches to contend with, almost certainly caused by sneaky good-for-nothing Smith - all evil eyes and a Principal Skinner voice. Miraculously (foolishly) the family never suspects he might be at the root of their troiubles.

The technology is 100% made up, the fight sequences and props are laughably fake and the polo/V-neck combos worn by the men begger belief. It's naff, camp and totally hilarious. But when the animated opening sequence is over and the credit music fades into a booming voiceover announcing, "Last week, as you recall, we left Professor Robinson and Dr Smith searching for a lost laser pistol," you know you just have to watch to see if they'll make it out of this one alive.

Reviewed on: 21 Mar 2004
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Lost In Space - Season 1 packshot
A guinea pig family, sent into space for an experiment, lose their way and must try to get back.
Amazon link

Director: Various

Writer: Various

Starring: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Marta Kristen, Angela Cartwright, Billy Mumy, Mark Goddard, Jonathan Harris

Year: 1965

Runtime: 1519 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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