Retro TV Shows: “Lost in Space”

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Lost in Space is an American science fiction television series, created and produced by Irwin Allen, which originally aired between 1965 and 1968. The series is loosely based on the 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson, and on a comic book published by Gold Key Comics titled Space Family Robinson. The series follows the adventures of the Robinsons, a pioneering family of space colonists who struggle to survive in the depths of space. The show ran for 83 episodes over three seasons, the first year of which was filmed in black and white.

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On October 16, 1997, the United States is gearing up to colonize space. The Jupiter 2, a futuristic saucer-shaped spacecraft, stands on its launch pad undergoing final preparations. Its mission is to take a single family on a five-and-a-half-year journey to an Earthlike planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri.

The Robinson family consisted of Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams), his wife Maureen (June Lockhart) and their three children, Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Cartwright), and Will (Billy Mumy). The family is accompanied by U.S. Space Corps Major Donald West (Mark Goddard), who is trained to land the ship. The Robinsons and Major West are to be cryogenically frozen for the voyage, and they are set to be unfrozen when the spacecraft approaches its destination.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), Alpha Control’s doctor, is revealed to be a saboteur on behalf of an unnamed nation. After disposing of a guard who catches him on board the spacecraft, Smith 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, however, becomes trapped aboard at launch and his extra weight throws the Jupiter 2 off course, causing it to encounter a storm of asteroids. This, plus the robot’s rampage, causes the ship to prematurely engage its hyperdrive, and causes the expedition to become hopelessly lost in the infinite depths of outer space. Smith’s selfish actions and laziness frequently endanger the expedition; however, Smith’s role assumes less sinister overtones in later parts of the series.

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