Danger, Will Robinson!
Netflix's "Lost in Space" is ready for streaming, but you might want to approach it with caution. After all, there's no way the new show will recapture the magic of the classic series. Click through for 20 compelling reasons to stay loyal to the original (currently available on Hulu).
It Had a Really Funky Robot
He sang! He could cha-cha! He sometimes dressed in drag! He got drunk! And he irritated the hell out of the villainous Dr. Zachary Smith. So what if he looked about as futuristic as a 1957 Philco TV? The Class M-3, Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot (aka "Robot") also had two of the show's the most quoted lines: "Danger, Will Robinson" and "It does not compute."
It Was Produced by Irwin Allen
Known as the Master of Disaster, producer Irwin Allen gave us also gave us movies like "The Poseidon Adventure" and "The Towering Inferno." "He was incredibly ambitious, and laid down an amazing template for the series in that pilot," recalled Billy Mumy, who played Will Robinson. "Plus, he dressed in very bright colors and had the first comb-over I'd ever seen!" The new Netflix series is executive-produced by two guys named Matt Sazama and Buck Sharpless. Nice dudes, we're sure, but they ain't no Irwin Allen.
It Had Cool Kid Actors
Billy Mumy and Angela Cartwright were two of the coolest kids on '60s TV. And both were seasoned actors. Before playing Penny Robinson, Cartwright appeared in "The Sound of Music" and "The Danny Thomas Show." As for Mumy, he had made his mark in a now legendary episode of "The Twilight Zone" and co-starred with Bridget Bardot in the movie "Dear Bridget." And he seemed like the kind of kid who actually enjoyed being lost in space.
It Had Jonathan Harris
Though he appeared as Dr. Zachary Smith in every episode (except the unaired pilot), Jonathan Harris was billed as "special guest star." In fact, as the evil, conniving, sniveling, cowardly man-you-love-to-hate, Harris was truly special. Whether hurling alliterative insults at his robot co-star ("Bumbling bucket of bolts"), cooking space soufflés or just chewing the scenery, the veteran character actor stole every scene he was in. And in his free time, Harris served as acting coach to a young Chuck Norris. Top that, Netflix!
It Had Lassie's Mom
June Lockhart did six seasons on "Lassie" before taking on the role of Dr. Maureen Robinson. Although her character was described as "a distinguished biochemist from the New Mexico College of Space Medicine," Dr. Robinson seemed mostly dedicated to cheerily preparing family meals, tending to their space garden and being sort of nice to Dr. Smith. She wasn't liberated, but she was chill.
It Had the Best Spacesuits
When not travelling to other planets, the cast of "Lost In Space" lounged around in the obligatory 1960s intergalactic velour leisurewear (even this was more fashionable than the space jammies on "Star Trek"). But when they took off to explore new corners of the galaxy, the Robinsons got to wear form-fitting silver suits made of a polyester-based fabric called Metlon-with-Mylar, made to measure in Hollywood.
It Had a Better Spaceship Than "Star Trek"
The Jupiter 2 was a serious flying saucer, not some 33" wooden Gene Roddenberry model thing. The Robinsons' spacecraft was a two-deck, nuclear-powered beauty with a laboratory, an electric glide tube elevator and a separate compartment for "Robot" to chill in. Built at a cost of $350,000, it was the most expensive set for a TV series up until that time.
It Was on CBS
Back then CBS was the prestigious network, home to "The Munsters" and Walter Cronkite. Not some mail order company that put the Blockbuster chain out of business.
It Had Memorable Guest Stars
Among the actors you will NOT see on the Netflix series: John Carradine, Al Lewis (pictured here), Strother Martin, Warren Oates, Michael J. Pollard, Kurt Russell, Lyle Waggoner.
It Had a Monkey
Actually, it was a chimpanzee with pointy pasted-on ears. Named "Debbie the Bloop" (because it could say "bloop"), the space monkey was Penny's pet. Dr. Smith naturally hated it. Netflix doesn't have a space monkey. Space monkeys are cute.
It Had Space Hippies
In the 1968 episode "The Promised Planet," the Robinsons encounter adult-hating space hippies. Penny likes their groovy music. Dr. Smith kind of digs the scene, too. But soon everyone realizes that it's a futuristic cult: These counterculture kids want to destroy the universe as we know it. In the end, the show's adults prevail. Even Lawrence Welk would have approved.
Its Theme Music Was by "Johnny Williams"
Long before composer John Williams entered the musical pantheon with his scores for "Star Wars," "Jaws," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and the Indiana Jones and Harry Potter movies, he created the opening theme to "Lost In Space." It's a catchy little thing that even got its own CD in 1997, which is still available on Amazon for a cool $69.99.
It Had an Alien Talking Carrot
When he presented the script for this episode to the cast, screenwriter Peter Packer admitted that "I didn't have another damn idea in my head." Stars Guy Williams and June Lockhart went into such uncontrollable laughter during filming that they were written out of the next two episodes as punishment. Still, if Netflix brings back the alien talking carrot, we might be converted.
Judy Robinson Was Hot
Norwegian actress Marta Kristen played the Robinson's 20-something daughter Judy. The beautiful blonde actress had appeared on classic TV shows ranging from "My Three Sons" to "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and played a mermaid in "Beach Blanket Bingo," Kristen took the fantasy of "Lost in Space" to another dimension.
The Show's Producer Believed in Recycling
Never one to waste a penny, producer Irwin Allen simply recycled the sea monsters from another of his TV shows, "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," and turned them into alien monsters for "Lost in Space." Gundemar, the creature in this scene, was later used in an episode pf "Batman."
It Had Serious Actors
Mark Goddard played Major Don West, an expert in interplanetary geology, but he was actually a proud graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. So, he was somewhat disgruntled when he realized that his "seven years of Stanislavski" method acting had prepared him to talk to a carrot.
It Had Its Own Comic Book
In fact, the comic book came first. Gold Key Comics introduced "Space Family Robinson" in 1962, three years before the debut of the television series. Legal action was averted when CBS reached an agreement with Gold Key allowing it to add "Lost In Space" to its title, a TV tie-in that would naturally boost sales. Originally priced at 12 cents, a copy of the comic book now goes for about $10 on eBay.
It Was John-John Kennedy's Favorite Show
No wonder John F. Kennedy Jr. turned out so cool. More recent first family members seem like they grew up watching "Lou Dobbs Tonight."
The Show Inspired Real Astronauts
In 2014, June Lockhart became the first women to receive NASA's Exceptional Public Achievement award for her role in fostering public interest in space exploration. Now 92, the veteran actress later told NPR that astronauts have told that "Lost in Space" was an inspiration to them. "I did 'Lassie' for six years and I never had anybody come up to me and say, 'It made me want to be a farmer.'" Lockhart said.
It Ended Abruptly—and in Style
On March 6, 1968, "Lost in Space" suddenly vanished. Canceled. (Ratings were still high, but the show was expensive to produce.) There was no resolution, no heart-tugging wrap-up, no televised retrospective with the cast on hand to reminisce. The original series just remains, in our collective conscience, permanently "Lost in Space."
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