Lost in Space started out fine, with an all-star cast and lots of cool space hardware. But as he was wont to do Irwin Allen turned it into a
childrens program filled with monsters about as scary as the ones on Sesame Street. After the first season Batman hit the airwaves in the same time slot so nobody was watching Lost in Space anyway. Just as well since the 2nd season of LIS was not worth watching. It settled into a "guest star of the week" format with the storylines becoming increasingly unimportant. They relied heavily on Dr.Smith and the robot's newly developed comic chemistry, the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.
Season Three didn't follow the usual pattern of decline for such shows. Except for a couple of misfires like The Great Vegetable Rebellion it turned out to be far more entertaining than Season Two. The Robinsons finally blasted off from that dismal planet and headed off for new adventures in space. Penny(Angela Cartwright) was no longer a drab-looking adolescent running around in pants. She had become a beautiful young woman adding a little pizzaz to the show. And somewhere they came up with the "space pod" giving the Robinsons a way to go down and check out those planets before landing the Jupiter 2. In the final show the Jupiter 2 even had rockets to fire and defend itself with. All of this gave a new dimension to the show and revitalized it. But it was too little and too late. The series was not renewed and the cast didn't even find out until they were in the middle of a meeting with the press. Lost in Space showed promise but it never quite got its act together. They depended too much on "teleporting" and other cheap special effects, and left too many questions unanswered. Of course the most nagging question of all, whatever happened to the Robinsons, was never addressed and that irks fans to this day. More than anything the show's fate was sealed--(as Dr.Smith would say, "We're doomed.")--by the success in the ratings of Batman on ABC.
Now for the good news. Lost in Space is available on DVD. Most of the things Hollywood predicted for the future like flights to Alpha Centauri, laser guns, and hydroponic gardens in every home didn't happen, but in some ways the future turned out even neater than we imagined. Amazingly you can now pop a disc into a machine and see images of a show that aired 40 years ago and most of it looks like it was filmed yesterday. It's sad that Guy Williams and Jonathan Harris(Prof. Robinson and Dr.Smith) are gone now. But thanks to DVDs they'll always be with us. That's a much better use of laser technology than turning it into a death ray.
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