|The series ran on CBS from 1965-68.|
But before reviewing it, I want to discuss producer Irwin Allen's original concept. He envisioned a space-age version of Johann Wyss's Swiss Family Robinson about a family of explorers who survive a crash landing on a desert planet. This was not a new idea; indeed, Gold Key Comics published a comic book series called Space Family Robinson beginning in 1962.
In Allen's original Lost in Space pilot, an episode called "No Place to Hide," the Robinsons' spacecraft Gemini XII is thrown off course when meteors crash into it. After landing on an uncharted planet, the Robinsons make a new home--and encounter a giant cyclops.Will Robinson even sings "Greensleeves," accompanying himself on guitar. Speaking of music, the theme for the pilot episode was borrowed from Bernard Herrmann's score for The Day the Earth Stood Still.
CBS liked the $600,000 pilot and ordered a series--but also wanted changes that resulted in the addition of a villain and a robot. According to Lost in Space historian Mark Phillips, Irwin Allen wanted a villain like Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon and story editor Anthony Wilson wanted a Long John Silver-type. Their compromise was Dr. Zachary Smith.
|Guy Williams and June Lockhart were|
|Dr. Smith threatening Major West.|
This Dr. Smith is slightly different from the one who would become--with Will and the robot--the eventual stars of Lost in Space. Smith is a villain, though a none-too-bright one, although we're led to believe that he was the grand master of the Oxford chess club. One enduring trait is clearly established: Dr. Smith is a big liar!
John and Maureen Robinson (Guy Williams and June Lockhart) play a much larger role. They have the episode's juiciest scene when they engage in a heated disagreement over whether to continue with the mission or try to return to Earth. The episode ends with John floating helplessly into space after his safety cord breaks while repairing the Jupiter 2's exterior systems. It's quite a cliffhanger, leading to the now familiar:
|Billy Mumy as Will.|
Incidentally, most of the footage from the original pilot was included in the series' first five episodes. That pilot eventually aired on the SyFy network and was included in a video release of Lost in Space from Columbia House. By the way, the now-familiar Lost in Space theme was written by a young composer named Johnny Williams--yes, that's John Williams, the man that went on to become the most nominated composer in the history of the Academy Awards.