Lost in Space
|Lost in Space|
|Created by||Irwin Allen|
|Narrated by||Dick Tufeld|
|Theme music composer||John Williams|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||83 (List of episodes)|
|Cinematography||Frank G. Carson
|Running time||1 hour|
|Production company(s)||Irwin Allen Productions
Van Bernard Productions
20th Century-Fox Television
|Distributor||Fox Television Studios|
|Picture format||black and white (1965-1966)
|Original run||September 15, 1965 – March 6, 1968|
|Related shows||Lost in Space (film)|
Lost in Space is an American science fiction television series created and produced by Irwin Allen, filmed by 20th Century Fox Television, and broadcast on CBS. The show ran for three seasons, with 83 episodes airing between September 15, 1965, and March 6, 1968. The first television season was filmed in black and white, but the remainders were filmed in color. In 1998, a Lost in Space movie, based on the television series, was released.
Though the original television series concept centered on the Robinson family, many later story lines focused primarily on Dr. Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris. Originally written as an utterly evil but extremely incompetent would-be saboteur, Smith gradually becomes the troublesome, self-centered, incompetent foil who provides the comic relief for the show and causes most of the episodic conflict and misadventures. Smith was not in the un-aired pilot and neither was the robot. Of interesting note was that the plot point causing the Space Family Robinson to become "Lost in Space" was that it was a meteor storm in the un-aired pilot put the Jupiter Two off course. In the first aired episode, Smith's sabotage and unintended presence caused them to go off course so that they encountered the meteors, introducing an element of proximate causation as to Smith's culpability for the Robinson family's predicament. In the un-aired version, they were going at such a relatively slow speed that they wondered if they were on Mars, while in the first aired episode, just seconds of hyper-drive and they were lost, unknown light-years from Earth.
- 1 Production
- 2 Plot
- 3 Characters
- 4 Episodes
- 5 Technology and equipment
- 6 Series history
- 7 Ratings, awards (nominations) and popularity
- 8 Cancellation
- 9 Music
- 10 Legal questions
- 11 Guest stars
- 12 Syndication
- 13 Spin-offs
- 14 DVD releases
- 15 Title in other languages
- 16 References
- 17 External links
The first appearance of a space-faring Robinson family was in a comic book published by Gold Key Comics, The Space Family Robinson, who travelled about also lost in space aboard Space Station One in December 1962. The television show came three years later, and during its run, CBS and 20th Century Fox reached an agreement with Gold Key Comics that allowed the usage of the name 'Robinson' for the show. After that, the television series went ahead with stories separate from the comic book series. The television series is an adaptation of the Johann David Wyss novel The Swiss Family Robinson. The astronaut family of Dr. John Robinson, accompanied by an Air Force pilot and a robot, set out from an overpopulated Earth in the spaceship Jupiter 2 to visit a planet circling the star Alpha Centauri with hopes of colonizing it. Their mission in 1997 (the official launch date of the Jupiter 2 was October 16, 1997) is immediately sabotaged by Dr. Zachary Smith — an apparent agent for a foreign government — who slips aboard their spaceship and reprograms the robot to destroy the ship and crew. Smith is trapped aboard, saving himself by prematurely reviving the crew from suspended animation. They save the ship, but consequent damage leaves them lost in space. Eventually they crash on an alien world, later named by the Robinsons as Priplanis, where they spend the rest of the season and had to survive a host of adventures. Smith, whom Allen originally intended to write out, remains through the series as a source of comedic cowardice and villainy, exploiting the forgiving nature of the Robinsons. Smith was liked by the trusting Will Robinson, but he was disliked by both the Robot and the equally-suspicious Major Don West.
At the start of the second season, the repaired Jupiter 2 launches again after a series of severe quakes destroy Priplanis, but in the fourth episode, the Robinsons crash on another planet and spend the season there. This replicated the feel of the first season, although by this time the focus of the series was more on humor than straight action/adventure.
In the third season, a format change allowed the Robinson Family to travel to more planets. The Jupiter-2 would travel to other worlds in an attempt to return to Earth or to settle on their originally-desired planet in the Alpha Centauri system. The Space Pod was added as a means of transportation between the ship and planets. This season had a dramatically-different opening credits sequence and a new theme song, which like the original, was composed by John Williams.
Following the format of Allen's first television series, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, fantasy-oriented adventure stories were emphasized with little emphasis on science fiction. The show delivered a visual assault of special effects, explosions, monstrous aliens, spaceships, and during seasons two and three, exotic sets and costumes drenched in the bright, primary colors that were typical of early color television.
On October 16, 1997, 30 years into the future in 1967, the United States is about to launch one of history's great adventures: man's colonization of deep space. The Jupiter 2, called Gemini 12 in the pilot episode, a futuristic saucer-shaped spaceship, stands on its launch pad undergoing final preparations. Its mission is to take a single family on a five-and-a-half-year journey – stated as 98 years in the pilot episode – to a planet of the nearby star Alpha Centauri. The pilot episode refers to the planet itself as Alpha Centauri, which space probes reveal possesses ideal conditions for human life. The Robinson family was selected from among two million volunteers for this mission. The family includes Professor John Robinson, played by Guy Williams, his wife, Maureen, played by June Lockhart, their children, Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Cartwright), and Will (Billy Mumy). They will be accompanied by their pilot, U.S. Space Corps Major Donald West (Mark Goddard), who is trained to fly the ship. Otherwise, the Robinsons and West will be in freezing tubes for the voyage; with the tubes opening when the spacecraft approached its destination. Unless there was a problem with the ship's navigation or guidance system during the voyage, West would only take the controls during the final approach to and landing on the destination planet while the Robinsons would strap themselves into contour couches on the lower deck for the landing.
Other nations are racing to colonize space, and they would stop at nothing, not even sabotage, to thwart the United States effort. Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), a psychologist and environmental control expert, is also a foreign secret agent. He reprograms the Jupiter 2's B-9 environmental control robot, voiced by Dick Tufeld, to destroy critical systems on the spaceship eight hours after launch. Smith is trapped aboard at launch and his extra weight throws the Jupiter 2 off course, causing it to encounter a meteor storm. This plus the robot's rampage causes the ship to become lost.
The Robinsons are often placed in danger by Smith, whose self-centered actions and laziness endanger the family. In the second and third seasons, Smith's role assumes a less evil overtone – although he continues to display many character defects. In "The Time Merchant", Smith travels back in time to the day of the Jupiter 2 launch, with hope of changing his fate. He learns that without his weight altering the ship's course, it would be destroyed by an uncharted asteroid. In an act of redemption, Smith elects to re-board the ship, thus saving Major West and the Robinsons' lives.
- Dr. John Robinson (Guy Williams): The expedition commander, a pilot, and the father of the Robinson children. He is an astrophysicist who also specializes in applied planetary geology.
- Dr. Maureen Robinson (June Lockhart): John's biochemist wife. Her role in the series is often to prepare meals, tend the garden, and help with light construction while adding a voice of compassion. Her status as a doctor is mentioned only in the first episode and in the second season episode "The Astral Traveler."
- Major Don West (Mark Goddard): The military pilot of the Jupiter 2. He is Dr. Smith's intemperate and intolerant adversary. His mutual romantic interest with Judy was not developed beyond the first few episodes. In the un-aired pilot, "Doctor Donald West" was a graduate student astrophysicist and expert in interplanetary geology, rather than a military man.
- Judy Robinson (Marta Kristen): The oldest child of the Robinsons. She is about 19 years old at the outset of the series. She planned a career in musical theater but went with her family instead.
- Penny Robinson (Angela Cartwright): The middle child. A 13-year-old in the first season, she loves animals and classical music. Later in the series, she acquires a chimpanzee-like alien pet with pointy ears that made one sound, "Bloop". While it is sometimes remembered by that name, Penny named the creature "Debbie." Most of Penny's adventures have a fairy-tale quality, underscoring her innocence. She is described in the pilot, "No Place To Hide", as having an IQ of 147 and an interest in zoology.
- Will Robinson (Billy Mumy): The youngest child. A precocious 9-year-old in the first season, he is a child prodigy in electronics and computer technology. Often, he is a friend to Smith when no one else is. Will is also the member of the family closest to the Robot.
- Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris): A Doctor of Intergalactic Environmental Psychology, expert in cybernetics, and an enemy agent (roles that are rarely mentioned after the initial episodes). In the pilot episode, he is shown in uniform with a colonel's rank and eagles insignia, but is almost invariably addressed by his academic, rather than his military, rank. His attempt to sabotage the mission strands him aboard the Jupiter 2 and results in it becoming lost. By the end of the first season, the character becomes permanently established as a bungling, self-serving, greedy and manipulative coward. These character traits are magnified in subsequent seasons. His haughty bearing and ever-present alliterative repartee were staples of the character. While he and Major West repeatedly clashed over his goldbricking or because of some villainy he had perpetrated, the Robot was usually the preferred victim of his barbed and acerbic wit.
- Despite Harris being credited as a "Special Guest Star" for every episode, Smith is the pivotal character of the series. Harris was the last actor cast, with the others having been in the pilot episode. He was informed that he would "have to be in last position" in the credits. Harris voiced discomfort at this, and suggested appearing in the last position as "Special Guest Star." After having "screamed and howled," Allen agreed. The show's writers expected that Smith would be a temporary villain who would only appear in early episodes. Harris, on the other hand, hoped to stay on the show, but he found his character very boring; encouraged by Allen, the actor "began rewriting his lines and redefining his character" by playing Smith in an attention-getting, flamboyant style. Mumy recalls how, after he had learned his own lines, Harris would ask to rehearse with him using his own dialogue. "He truly, truly single-handledly created the character of Dr. Zachary Smith that we know," said Mumy. "This man we love-to-hate, a snivelling coward who would cower behind the little boy, 'Oh, the pain! Save me, William!' That's all him!" 
- The Robot: The Robot is a Class M-3 Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot, which had no given name. Although a machine endowed with superhuman strength and futuristic weaponry, he often displayed human characteristics, such as laughter, sadness, and mockery, as well as singing and playing a guitar. The Robot was performed by Bob May in a prop costume built by Bob Stewart. The voice was dubbed by Dick Tufeld, who was also the series' narrator. The Robot was designed by Robert Kinoshita, who was also the designer of the iconic Robby the Robot for Forbidden Planet. Robby appears in LIS #20 "War of the Robots", and the first episode of season three; "Condemned of Space".
Technology and equipment
The crew had a variety of methods of transportation. First, their primary vehicle for space travel was the two-deck, nuclear powered Jupiter 2 flying saucer spacecraft. (In the original un-aired pilot, the ship was named Gemini 12 and consisted of a single deck.) On the lower level were the "atomic motors" (which use "deutronium" for fuel), living quarters, galley, laboratory, and the robot's compartment. On the upper level were the guidance control system and suspended animation "freezing tubes" necessary for non-relativistic interstellar travel. The two levels were connected by an electric elevator and a fixed ladder. The Jupiter 2 explicitly had artificial gravity. The spacecraft was also intended to serve as home to the Robinsons once it landed on the destination planet orbiting Alpha Centauri.
Second, the "Pod" — a small spacecraft first shown in the third and final season and modeled on the Apollo Lunar Module — was used to travel from its bay in the Jupiter 2 to destinations either on land or in space. The Pod apparently also had artificial gravity.
Third, "The Chariot", was an all-terrain, amphibious tracked vehicle the crew used when they were on a planet. The Chariot was actually an operational cannibalized version of the Thiokol Snowcat Spryte, with a Ford 170-cubic-inch inline-6, 101 horsepower engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission including reverse. Test footage filmed of the Chariot for the first season of the series can be seen here on YouTube.
Most of the Chariot's body panels were clear - including the roof and its dome-shaped "gun hatch". Both a roof rack for luggage and roof mounted "solar batteries" were accessible by exterior fixed ladders on either side of the vehicle. It had dual headlights and dual auxiliary area lights beneath the front and rear bumpers. The roof also had a swivel-mounted, interior controllable spotlights located near each front corner with a small parabolic antenna mounted between them. The Chariot had six bucket seats (three rows of two seats) for passengers. The interior featured retractable mylar curtains for privacy, a seismograph, a scanner with infrared capability, a radio transceiver, a public address system and a rifle rack that held four laser rifles vertically against the inside of the left rear body panel.
Fourth and last, the then exciting new invention called a jet pack was used occasionally by Prof. Robinson or Major West.
For self-defense, the crew of the Jupiter 2—including Will on occasion against his parents' wishes—had an arsenal of laser guns at their disposal, both rifles carried with slings and pistols carried openly in holsters. (The first season's personal issue laser gun was a film prop modified from a toy semi-automatic pistol made by Remco.) Dr. Smith carried a pocket knife ("There Were Giants in the Earth"), and Will carried a Swiss army knife ("The Raft", "Follow the Leader"). The crew also employed a force field around the Jupiter 2 for protection while on alien planets.
For communication, the crew used small transceivers to communicate with each other when away from the ship. In "The Raft," Will improvised several miniature rockoons in an attempt to send an interstellar "message in a bottle" distress signal.
One of the most vital pieces of equipment was their environmental control robot B-9. The Robot ran air and soil tests, was extremely strong, able to discharge strong electrostatic charges from his claws, could detect threats with his scanner, produce a defensive smoke screen, produce exact duplicates of small objects like a pair of gloves, and could even detect faint smells (in "One of Our Dogs is Missing"). He could both understand speech as well as speak. In episode 8 ("Invaders From The Fifth Dimension"), the Robot claims the ability to read human minds by translating emitted thought waves back into words.
The Jupiter 2 also had advanced technology that simplified or did away with mundane tasks. The "auto-matic laundry" took seconds to clean, iron, fold, and package clothes in clear plastic bags. Similarly the "dishwasher" would clean, wash, and dry dishes in just seconds. The ship had no light bulbs. Maureen said the lights were "transistorized", perhaps meaning they were electroluminescent or light emitting diodes. "Protein pills" (a complete nutritional emergency substitute for whole foods) were featured in "The Hungry Sea" (air date: Oct 13, 1965) and "The Space Trader" (air date: March 9, 1966). In this, Lost in Space was ahead of NASA and Pillsbury, which later developed Space Food Sticks. Silver reflective space blankets, a then new invention developed by NASA in 1964, were used in "The Hungry Sea" (air date: Oct 13, 1965) and "Attack of the Monster Plants" (air date: Dec 15, 1965). The crew's spacesuits were made with aluminum-coated fabric, like NASA's Mercury spacesuits, and had Velcro fasteners which NASA first used during the Apollo program (1961-1972).
Allen produced a series pilot, "No Place to Hide." After CBS accepted the series the characters Smith and the Robot were added. The ship was redesigned with a second deck, and named the Jupiter 2. (It had been the Gemini 12.) For budget considerations, a good part of the pilot episode was reworked into the early series episodes. CBS was also offered Star Trek at around the same time, but it was turned down in favor of Lost in Space.
The Lost in Space television series was originally named Space Family Robinson. Allen was apparently unaware of the Gold Key comic of the same name and similar theme. His series was, as was the comic, a space version of Swiss Family Robinson hence the title similarity. Gold Key Comics had the opportunity to sue Allen's production company and 20th Century Fox for copyright infringement, but as Allen was expected to license the rights for comic book adaptations of his various properties as he already had with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea series, they decided to not sue, but instead changed the title of the comic to Lost in Space to take advantage of the series' prominence.
The first season emphasized adventure. It chronicled the daily adventures that a pioneer family might well experience if marooned on an alien world. These included dealing with dangerous native plants and animals, and off-world visitors. In the first season, only the special effects shots were filmed in color, in anticipation of reusing shots in color seasons.
Beginning in January 1966, ABC scheduled Batman in the same time period. To compete, Lost in Space imitated its campy style, using "bright outfits, over-the-top action, outrageous bad guys". There was a growing emphasis on Smith, Will, and the Robot at the expense of the other characters. Smith's change in character was not appreciated by the other actors. According to Billy Mumy, Mark Goddard and Guy Williams disliked the shift from serious science fiction.
The third season had more adventure with the Jupiter II now functional and hopping from planet-to-planet, but episodes like "The Great Vegetable Rebellion"—with actor Stanley Adams as Tybo, the talking carrot — still demonstrated humorous fantasy. (Called "the most insipid and bizarre episode in television history", Kristen recalls that Goddard complained that "seven years of Stanislavski" method acting had culminated in his talking to a carrot.) Other episodes were whimsical and emphasized humor, including fanciful space cowboys, space hippies, pirates, and a beauty pageant.
During the first two seasons, episodes concluded in a "live action freeze" anticipating the following week, with the cliff-hanger, "To be continued next week! Same time — same channel!" There was little ongoing plot continuity between episodes except in larger goals, for example, to get enough fuel to leave the planet. For the third season, the episode would conclude, immediately followed with a vocal "teaser" from the Robot (Dick Tufeld) warning viewers to "Stay tuned for scenes from next week's exciting adventure!" which would highlight the next episode, followed by the closing credits.
After cancellation, the show was successful in reruns and in syndication for many years, most recently on FX, Sci-Fi Channel, and ALN. It is currently available on Hulu streaming video, and is seen Saturday nights on Me-TV.
Stylistically, the series was of high quality, featuring what was expected for space travel at the time; eye-catching silver, tapered space-suits, laser guns, and spectacular props and sets.
Ratings, awards (nominations) and popularity
Although it retains a following, the science-fiction community often points to Lost in Space as an example of early television's perceived poor record at producing science-fiction. The series' deliberate fantasy elements, a trademark of Irwin Allen productions, were perhaps overlooked as it drew comparisons to its supposed rival, Star Trek. However, Lost in Space was a mild ratings success, unlike Star Trek, which received very poor ratings during its original network television run. The more cerebral Star Trek never averaged higher than 52nd in the ratings during its three seasons, while Lost in Space finished season one with a rating of 32nd, season two in 35th place, and the third and final season in 33rd place.
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenbery insisted that the two shows could not be compared. He was more of a philosopher, while understanding that Irwin Allen was a storyteller. When asked about Lost in Space, Roddenberry acknowledged: "That show accomplishes what it sets out to do. Star Trek is not the same thing".
While Lost in Space was still reasonably successful, the show was unexpectedly cancelled in 1968 after 83 episodes. The final prime-time episode to be broadcast over CBS was a cast and crew favorite, a repeat from the second season, "A Visit to Hades", on September 11, 1968.
Lost in Space received a 1966 Emmy award nomination for "Cinematography-Special photographic effects" but did not win, and again in 1968 for "Achievement in visual arts & makeup" but did not win. In 2005 LIS was nominated for a Saturn Award "Best DVD Retro Television Release", but did not win. In 2008 TVLand nominated and awarded the series for "Awesomest Robot."
Lost in Space is remembered, at least, from oft-repeated lines of the Robot, such as "Warning! Warning!", "That does not compute" and "Danger, Will Robinson!". Smith's frequent put-downs of the Robot are also still popular ("You bubble-headed booby!") as are his trademark lines: "Oh, the pain... the pain!" and "Never fear, Smith is here!". One of Jonathan Harris's last roles was providing the voice of the illusionist praying mantis "Manny" in Disney's "A Bug's Life", where Harris used "Oh, the pain... the pain!" near the end of the film.
In early 1968, while the final third season episode "Junkyard in Space" was in production, the cast and crew were informally made to believe the series would return for a fourth season. Allen had ordered new scripts for the coming season. A few weeks later, however, CBS announced the television series they were renewing for the 1968-69 season, and Lost in Space was not included. Although CBS programming executives failed to offer any reasons why Lost in Space was cancelled, there are at least five suggested reasons offered by series executives, critics and fans, any one of which could be considered sufficient justification for cancellation given the state of the broadcast network television industry at the time. As there was no official final episode, the exploring pioneers never made it to Alpha Centauri nor found their way back to Earth.
Budget too high
The show had sufficient ratings to support a fourth season, but it was expensive. The budget per episode for Season One was $130,980, and for Season Three, $164,788. In that time, the actors' salaries increased; in the case of Harris, Kristen and Cartwright, their salaries nearly doubled. Part of the cost problems may have been the actors themselves: director Richardson saying of Williams' demanding closeups of himself:
- "This costs a fortune in time, it's a lot of lighting and a lot of trouble and Irwin succumbed to it. It got to be that bad."
The interior of the Jupiter II was the most expensive set for a television show at the time, about $350,000. (More than the set of the U.S.S. Enterprise a couple of years later.)
Budget was cut
According to Mumy and other sources, the show was initially picked up for a fourth season, but with a cut budget. Reportedly, 20th Century Fox was still recovering from the legendary budget overruns of Cleopatra, and thus slashed budgets across the board in its film and television productions. Allen claimed the series could not continue with a reduced budget. During a negotiating conference regarding the series direction for the fourth season with CBS chief executive Bill Paley, Allen stormed out (of the meeting) when told that the budget was being cut 15% from Season Three, his action thereby sealing the show's cancellation.
Show disliked by an executive
Robert Hamner, one of the show's writers, states (in Starlog, #220, November 1995) that Paley despised the show so much that the budget dispute was used as an excuse to terminate the series. Years later, Paley stated this was incorrect and that he was a fan of "the Robot".
Declining ratings and escalating costs
The Lost in Space Forever DVD cites declining ratings and escalating costs as the reasons for cancellation. Even Irwin Allen admitted that the Season 3 ratings showed an increasing percentage of children among the total viewers, meaning a drop in the "quality audience" that advertisers preferred.
Diminishing interest among cast and crew
A contributing factor, at least, was that June Lockhart and director Don Richardson were no longer excited about the show. Lockhart said in response to being told about cancellation by Perry Lafferty, the head of CBS programming, "I think that's for the best at this point", although she goes on to say that she would have stayed if there had been a fourth season. Lockhart immediately joined the cast of CBS' Petticoat Junction upon Lost in Space's cancellation. Richardson had been tipped off that the show was likely to be cancelled, was looking for another series, and had decided not to return to Lost in Space, even if it continued.
It was also no secret that Guy Williams had grown embittered with his role on the show, as it became increasingly "campy" in Seasons 2 and 3 while centering squarely on the antics of Harris' Dr. Smith character. Whether Williams would have returned for a fourth season or not wasn't revealed, but he never acted again after the series, choosing instead to retire to Argentina.
For Season Three, the opening theme was revised (again by Williams) to a more exciting and faster tempo score, accompanied by live action shots of the cast, featuring a pumped-up countdown from seven to one to launch each week's episode. Seasons 1 and 2 had animated figures "life-roped" together drifting "hopelessly lost in space" and set to a dizzy and comical score.
Much of the incidental music in the series was written by Williams (who scored four episodes) and other notable film and television composers including Alexander Courage (composer of the Star Trek theme), who contributed six scores to the series. His most recognizable ("Wild Adventure") included his key theme for "Lorelei" composed for organ, woodwinds, and harp – thus cementing this highly recognizable theme with Williams' own "Chariot" and main theme for the series.
A series of soundtrack CDs were released containing only background and incidental music from the original television series.
In 1962, Gold Key comics (formerly Dell Comics), a division of Western Publishing Company, began publishing a series of comic books under the title, Space Family Robinson. The story was largely inspired by The Swiss Family Robinson but with a space-age twist. The movie and television rights to the comic book were then purchased by noted television writer Hilda Bohem (The Cisco Kid), who created a treatment under the title, Space Family 3000.
In July 1964, science fiction writer and filmmaker Ib Melchior began pitching a treatment for a feature film, also under the title Space Family Robinson. There is debate as to whether or not Allen was aware of the Melchior treatment. It is also unknown whether Allen was aware of the comic book or the Hilda Bohem treatment.
As copyright law only protects the actual expression of a work, and not titles, general ideas or concepts, in 1964 Allen moved forward with his own take on Space Family Robinson, with characters and situations notably different from either the Bohem or the Melchior treatments (none of the three treatments contained the characters of Smith or the Robot).
Intended as a follow up to his first successful television venture, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Allen quickly sold his concept for a television series to CBS. Concerned about confusion with the Gold Key comic book, CBS requested that Allen come up with a new title. Nevertheless, Hilda Bohem filed a claim against Allen and CBS Television shortly before the series premiered in 1965.
A compromise was struck as part of a legal settlement. In addition to an undisclosed sum of money, Western Publishing would be allowed to change the name of its comic book to Lost in Space.
There were no other legal challenges to the title until 1995, when New Line Cinema announced their intention to turn Lost in Space into a big budget motion picture. New Line had purchased the screen rights from Prelude Pictures (which had acquired the screen rights from the Irwin Allen Estate in 1993). At that time, Melchior contacted Prelude Pictures and insisted that Lost in Space was directly based upon his 1964 treatment. Melchior was aided in his efforts by Ed Shifres, a fan who had written a book entitled Space Family Robinson: The True Story. (Later reprinted with the title, Lost in Space: The True Story). The book attempts to show how Allen allegedly plagiarized Melchior's concept, with two outlines presented side-by-side.
To satisfy Melchior, Prelude Pictures hired the 78-year-old filmmaker as a consultant on their feature film adaptation. This accommodation was made without the knowledge or consent of the Irwin Allen Estate or Space Productions, the original copyright holder of Lost in Space. Melchior's contract with Prelude also guaranteed him 2% of the producer's gross receipts, a provision that was later the subject of a suit between Melchior and Mark Koch of Prelude Pictures. Although an Appellate Court ruled partly in Melchior's favor, on November 17, 2004, the Supreme Court of California denied a petition by Melchior to further review the case.
No further claim was made and Space Productions now contends that Allen was the sole creator of the television series Lost in Space.
During its three season run, many actors made guest appearances, including familiar actors and/or actors who went on to become well-known. Among those appearing in Lost in Space episodes: Joe E. Tata, Kevin Hagen, Alan Hewitt, Warren Oates, Don Matheson, Kurt Russell, Ford Rainey, Wally Cox, Grant Sullivan, Norman Leavitt, Tommy Farrell, Mercedes McCambridge, Lyle Waggoner, Albert Salmi, Royal Dano, Strother Martin, Michael J. Pollard, Byron Morrow, Arte Johnson, Fritz Feld, John Carradine, Al Lewis, Hans Conried, Dennis Patrick, Michael Rennie among many others. Future Hill Street Blues stars, Daniel J. Travanti (billed as "Danny Travanty") and Michael Conrad, made guest appearances on separate episodes. While Mark Goddard was playing Maj. West, he had a guest-appearance as well. Jonathan Harris, although a permanent cast member, was listed in the opening credits as "Special Guest Star" of every episode of Lost in Space.
Despite never reaching the 100 episodes desired for daily stripping in syndication, Lost in Space was picked up for syndication in most major U.S. markets. By 1969, the show was declared to be the #1 syndicated program (or close to it) in markets such as Houston, Milwaukee, Miami and even New York City, where it was said that the only competition to Lost in Space was I Love Lucy. The program didn't have the staying power throughout the 1970s of its supposed rival, Star Trek. Part of the blame was placed on the first season of Lost in Space being in black-and-white, while a majority of American households at the time had at least one color television receiver. By 1975, many markets began removing Lost in Space from daily schedules or moving it to less desirable time slots. The series experienced a revival when Ted Turner acquired it for his growing TBS "superstation" in 1979. Viewer response was highly positive, and it became a TBS mainstay for the next five years.
Bill Mumy scripted an authorized Lost in Space comic book for Innovation Comics. The company continued the series for some time, at one point focusing on a time many years after the end of series, the children having long ago grown up. The theme of an adult Will Robinson was also explored in the film and in the song "Ballad of Will Robinson"—written and recorded by Mumy.
Prior to the appearance of the television series, a comic book named Space Family Robinson was published by Gold Key Comics, written by Gaylord Du Bois and illustrated by Dan Spiegle. (Du Bois did not create the series, but he became the sole writer of the series once he began chronicling the Robinsons' adventures with "Peril on Planet Four" in issue #8, and he had already written the Captain Venture second feature beginning with "Situation Survival" in issue #6). Due to a deal worked out with Gold Key, the title of the comic later incorporated the Lost in Space sub-title. The comic book featured different characters and a unique H-shaped spacecraft rather than one of a saucer shape.
In 1998, a television special titled Lost in Space Forever featured Mumy as a grown-up Will and Harris as Smith. Though most of this special is a documentary about the show, the last five minutes is a reunion with Smith, Will and the Robot. This final segment brings the series to a close with the three realizing they are "Lost in Space ... Forever!"
In the 1972–1973 television season, ABC produced The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, a weekly collection of 60-minute animated movies, pilots and specials from various production companies, such as Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and Rankin-Bass – Hanna-Barbera Productions contributed animated work based on such television series as Gidget, Yogi Bear, Tabitha, Oliver Twist, Nanny and the Professor, The Banana Splits, and Lost in Space. Dr. Smith (voiced by Jonathan Harris) was the only character from the original program to appear in the special, along with the Robot (who was named Robon and employed in flight control rather than a support activity). The spacecraft was launched vertically by rocket, and Smith was a passenger rather than a saboteur. The pilot for the animated Lost in Space series was not picked up as a series, and only this episode was produced.
In 1998, New Line Cinema produced a Lost in Space feature film. It included numerous nods, homages and cameos related to the series, including:
- Dick Tufeld as The Robot's voice
- Mark Goddard played the military general who gives Major West his orders for the mission
- June Lockhart played the principal of Will Robinson's school
- Angela Cartwright and Marta Kristen appeared as reporters
- A CG animated alien primate character, in homage to the original Debbie "the Bloop" space-ape pet
- The film's Jupiter II was launched into orbit by a vehicle called the Jupiter I, which closely mimics the series' spacecraft, complete with rotating propulsion lights
- Reference is made to the Chariot and Space Pod, both of which are reported wrecked
Additional cameo appearances from the original series were considered, but did not make it to the film: Harris was offered a cameo appearance as the Global Sedition leader who hires, then betrays, Smith. He turned down the role, which eventually went to Edward Fox, and is even reported to have said "I play Smith or I don't play." Harris appeared on an episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, mentioning that he was offered a role: "Yes, they offered me a part in the new movie — six lines!"
It has been suggested[weasel words] that Bill Mumy was offered a key role in the film, that of an aged Will Robinson who appears in the "Spider Smith" sequences, but due to a scheduling conflict, Jared Harris was cast instead. During the DVD's Special Features section, the producer comments that Mumy was only briefly considered, but then discarded. Viewers, it was felt,[weasel words] would say, "There's Bill Mumy" and not see the "Will Robinson" character. As Mumy's primary adult role had been as Lennier on the popular Babylon 5 television series, which was still running at the time, this would have indeed been a consideration.[weasel words]
In 1967, a novel based on the series, with significant changes to the personalities of the characters and the design of the ship, was published by Pyramid Books. Written by Dave Van Arnam and Ted White (as "Ron Archer"), the book interwove three short stories. A scene in the book correctly predicts Richard Nixon winning the Presidency after Lyndon Johnson, but incorrectly predicted a Kennedy winning after Nixon.
Second television series
In late 2003, a new television series, with a somewhat changed format, was in development in the U.S. It originally was intended to be closer to the original pilot with no Smith, but including a robot. The pilot (entitled, The Robinsons: Lost in Space) was commissioned by The WB Television Network. It was directed by John Woo and produced by Synthesis Entertainment, Irwin Allen Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Television and Regency Television.
The pilot featured the characters of John and Maureen, but an elder son, David, was added, as well as Judy, an 'infant' Penny, and ten-year-old Will. There was no Dr. Smith character, but the character of Don West was described as a "dangerous, lone wolf type".
It was not among the network's series pick-ups confirmed later that year.
20th Century Fox has released the entire series on DVD in Region 1. Several of the releases contain bonus features including interviews, episodic promos, video stills and the original un-aired pilot episode.
|DVD name||Ep#||Release date|
|Season 1||30||January 13, 2004|
|Season 2 Volume 1||16||September 14, 2004|
|Season 2 Volume 2||14||November 30, 2004|
|Season 3 Volume 1||15||March 1, 2005|
|Season 3 Volume 2||9||July 19, 2005|
Title in other languages
- Brazilian Portuguese: Perdidos no Espaço
- Croatian: Izgubljeni u svemiru
- Finnish: Matkalla avaruuteen
- French: Perdus dans l'espace
- German: Verschollen zwischen fremden Welten (= Lost/Missing between strange worlds)
- Greek: Χαμένοι στο διάστημα
- Hebrew: אבודים בחלל
- Japanese: 宇宙家族ロビンソン (Uchuu Kazoku Robinson = Space Family Robinson)
- Korean: 우주가족 로빈슨 (Uju Gajok Robinseun = Space Family Robinson)
- Polish: Zagubieni w kosmosie
- Romanian: Pierduţi în spaţiu
- Spanish: Perdidos en el espacio
- Frederick S. Clarke Cinefantastique - Volume 29, N o 12 -1998 Page 27 "The cast of characters In the original, unaired pilot for LOST IN SPACE (entitled "No Place to Hide") Included neither the robot nor Dr. Zachary Smith. The Robinsons load the Chariot to move to a better. "
- The Dumbing Down of America – the Bloop
- So mentioned in the third season episode, "The Kidnapped of Space"
- "Science Fiction." Pioneers of Television, January 18, 2011.
- Jonathon Harris interview (Lost In Space). YouTube video clip. See 1:45 to 3:27 for his description of the billing and the character. Further description regarding the character also follows this section of the video clip. Accessed October 28, 2011
- ""The Chariot" from Lost In Space". Car Lust. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "First Season Chariot COLOR Footage". YouTube. 26 May 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- Space Food Sticks
- "Spinoff Frequently Asked Questions". NASA.gov.
- Eisner, Joel, and Magen, Barry, Lost in Space Forever, Windsong Publishing, Inc., 1992.
- "Science Fiction Programming" at the Museum of Broadcast Communications online 
- Gowran, Clay. “Nielsen Ratings Are Dim on New Shows.” Chicago Tribune. Oct. 11, 1966: B10.
- Gould, Jack. “How Does Your Favorite Rate? Maybe Higher Than You Think.” New York Times. Oct. 16, 1966: 129.
- Source: Starlog magazine
- Eisner, Joel, and Magen, Barry, "Lost in Space Forever," p. 279, Windsong Publishing, Inc., 1992.
- "Lost in Space" (1965) at IMDB.com
- Lost in Space at tv.pop-cult.com
- Eisner, Joel, and Magen, Barry, Lost in Space Forever, p. 280, Windsong Publishing, Inc., 1992.
- Lost in Space Forever, DVD, Twentieth Century Fox, 1998.
- "History of TV's Lost in Space"
- "12 Fun Facts about Lost in Space at www.neatorama.com
- Microsoft Word – B153239.DOC
- "A Brief History of Lost in Space Fandom at lisfanpress.com
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lost in Space (television program).|
- Lost in Space at the Internet Movie Database
- Lost in Space at TV.com
- Penny Robinson Fan Club
- Forum for Lost in Space
- How the Lost in Space standard issue raygun prop was made