Season 2

Wild Adventure

I’m thinking pretty highly of this one. Sometimes Smith & Robot toss off an exchange that’s actually quite good. A couple times previous, they’ve had an exchange about “love” not computing; here, Smith mentions that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, literal as ever, the Robot states that there are in fact, exactly 37. “And I’ve used them all,” says Smith. Now THAT is some clever repartee!

Once again, they dip into folklore with the Green Girl; although she’s not specifically named in the show (not that I heard), she is in the credits as “Lorelei” – a Siren of the Rhine, if you’re not familiar.

If you aren’t familiar with the classics, the business with Smith seeing her, then her disappearing before anyone else can, was used at least twice in Abbott & Costello movies; probably elsewhere.

BTW, she was pretty good-lookin’, what?

I admit I got goosebumps and even a bit misty (not green-misty) when they got the hail from Alpha Control, and a pang along with them when they realized they weren’t going to land on Earth after all.

All in all, another top-notch effort here, and a glimpse of what might have
been.

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Ghost Planet

Couple brief comments on Ghost Planet. Liked it pretty well, just a little bit of Smith screeches that went against the grain. Solid concept for the script, even more relevant today for us neo-semi-Luddites (Ha! Parse =that- one out.)

I liked the lady robot quite a bit! Very innovative design, and the voice was sweet enough to be creepy. Once or twice I thought she sounded like Talky Tina from Twilight Zone, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t June Foray. Pretty creepy looking too, except on a couple of the closeups she looked like Hello Kitty, but that can’t be helped of course. After a bit even the armfolded quickstep bots went from the initial guffaw to creepy! Of course we knew the Robot would come through in the end! But I’m surprised Will at least didn’t pick up the only reassurance he could give under close scrutiny: after talking about, and being called, Benedict Arnold, he booms, “History does not always repeat itself!” So the color voyage – so far, so good!

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The Forbidden World

1) What a wasted opportunity. Once again, a solid premise lost in the shtick. Wally Cox, of all people, outclowns Harris. Reminiscent of the Star Trek episode where the 3′ tall baby-face alien throws up a scary-looking dummy on the videoscreen to talk. To be fair, it takes nearly the entire episode for The Shat to notice that the dummy’s lips never move. At least Will noticed the three aliens all looked suspiciously alike right away.

2) Another wasted plot point: Tiabo gripes about people coming, “with their cities and noise and all the things (he) ran away from.” Seems that could have been made a real big moral of the story. At least it’s there.

3) A monster chicken?

4) On the plus side- Again, maybe I’m reading in a bit too much, but I thought it was pretty dam funny when the Robot hooks one electrode of the detonator to Smith’s belt buckle. If you know what I mean….

5) They couldn’t have at least tried disguising the Klink helmet from “All That Glitters”?

6) A monster chicken?

7) The Smith/Robot dialogs were pretty good, pithy and funny without going overboard: see #1, they let Wally dive in.

8) The business with the one character pretending to be a number of others rings a bell or two, trying to think where else it’s been used. A little bit of The Wizard of Oz, maybe.

9) Really, a monster chicken?

10) Loved Don snickering at Explosive Smith not to get the hiccups!

Yup, it’s Season 2

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Space Circus

Just ran across an amusing coincidence, after watching “Space Circus.” I wanted to see what else James Westerfield (Dr. Marvello) had been in, since he’s one of those character actors you know you’ve seen dozens of times before.

Seems that in 1957, he had a part in a series called “Climax Mystery Theater” as a character named – Dr. Smith! (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0542616/) (The show regularly starred our friend Michael Rennie.)

Caught another of what I think are some truly brilliant Smithisms. When boasting to Marvello of his college acting experience (an actors’ inside joke if there ever was one!) he concludes, “College is the highest form of entertainment on Earth!”

I was slightly surprised to see that this episode, with Smith and Robot performing “Tiptoe Through The Tulips,” aired quite some time before America and the world were treated to the song’s pop revival, thanks to the definitive performance seen here:

http://youtu.be/skU-jBFzXl0

Oh, now =there’s= a might-have-been to dream of — imagine =him= guest starring as an alien?!?

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Prisoners of Space

I liked Prisoners quite a bit. It’s nominally reminiscent of the Star Trek 2-parter where they gave us their original pilot. However, that was clearly to use a large amount of good material that otherwise would go to waste. Prisoners doesn’t use that much to make it a “recap” episode, and of course we already got the original pilot chopped into the 1st eps. All to the point this wasn’t some “necessary,’ or even lazy, use of old footage, it’s a legit episode in its own right.What I was driving at, the whole tone of it is very different from anything before. It’s very introspective, doubtful and questioning. Although LIS never really got into overt socio-political commentary like ST did, I wonder if the tone of this was in some way a reflection of the whole Vietnam business going on — this would have been right in the middle of Johnson “escalating” over there, and when we here at home were starting to have second thoughts. As I say, I don’t think this is intended as direct commentary, but the lesson of watching your step and thinking about what you’re doing does seem to reflect the America that was looking at Vietnam rather than the America that was looking at the Moon.

One commentator on the Yahoo boards disliked it, seeing it as one long set-up for the “punch-line” of Smith being nuts; I think that gives it short shrift. I’d like to note that my third “Endless Skies” story, “Through Endless Skies,” addresses the twin topics of Smith’s mental state and the Robot’s all-too-human side. Actually quite a compelling coincidence, as I’d fleshed out this one entire scene before seeing either this or Android Machine (which deals more with the Robot.) Even more coincidentally, the phenomena of coincidence and synchronicity play a large part later on in the story. (I discovered a number of such coincidences along the way.)

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The Android Machine

I’m liking the Robot more and more lately. I think in part because he -naturally- tends to the deadpan kind of delivery that made Leslie Nielsen so good. Just watched The Android Machine, and I think he has two of the best lines in the whole episode: when Verda explores the depth of his education, and he finally comes back with, “I can lift very heavy things,” and later (twice actually), “She took my pointer.”

Other than that, nice ep, interesting theme, although of course we already have a robot who is more human than he has any right to be. Smith was kind of annoying. Feld as great and quirky as ever, but a character like him is best playing off of straight characters (as in “non-funny” of course) rather than a Smith.=====

Now I understand the power of the dark side . . . .

The Thief From Outer Space

I think I have a new favorite episode. Random thoughts:

1) I don’t think =any= network could get away with broadcasting this today. If you don’t understand this comment, you’re not paying attention, infidel.

2) I LOVE Ted Cassidy as Lurch in the original Addams Family. It is one of the other old shows I’ve been catching up with. He was brilliant in that. He could get SO much expression into a groan! It was a delight to see him cut loose like this, with such animated acting and dialog, for a change. Funny the tricks of memory: I remembered his line, “But you are the slave of a slave!” Did NOT think it was Will in that scene, woulda sworn it was Smith.

3) Malachi Throne: just brilliant acting. Perfection. At about 21’30”, when he’s explaining his real quest to Will, his line about the princess, and the pool of her tears and the trail of jewels across the cosmos– I mean it, I got shivers! Errata? When Lurch brings him the album, he blows it off, as if it’s dusty, but there’s no dust.

4) Just enough back at the campsite with the vase. Somewhere about halfway, I was sure that’s what the Golden Arrow was pointing too. Not =too= obvious.

5) The Robot. His woeful cries for attention at the beginning; you knew there would be some kind of payoff. Liking the Robot as a character more and more every day. Discussing him more thoroughly elsewhere. Slight complaint: he states that he can’t get out of the sedan chair because he had to remove his treads. a) ironic, in that Mr May probably had indeed done so for this scene. b) How the heck did he get in there, then? Not a killer problem, they just had to make a plot point. A couple lines seemed a bit stilted, even for a robot. Still green and go.

6) Who =wouldn’t= want to see Smith under Poe’s penduulum? Mostly good with Smith, a couple screams a bit over the top.

7) Great laughs. Really great laughs.

8) Angela Cartwright’s acting seems a bit stilted in a very few places. Very uncharacteristic.

9) As in the second “Tucker the Pirate” episode, Will drops a clue regarding the denouement of the episode, mentioning that the princess is now 200 years older.

10) Maybe I’ve watched the other too many times, but some of the Thief/Will scenes reminded me a bit too much of Airplane! and “Johnny, do you like gladiator movies?”

11) Dogs! Infidels! I think this might be illegal in Canada.

12) More Zorro-ista work from Guy at the end, very nice.

13) Loved the bit at the end, “TRAITOR!” when the thief realizes Will has betrayed him. More great acting from Mr. Throne. Great facial expression. “Conniving little beggar!” I think the thief really had another “B” word in mind there!

14) The Princess, see #9, supra, was this a complete surprise?

15) “You’ve changed!” Look at his face!

16) Serious comment: I think this is the first time we hear the Robot’s full designation as “General Utility Non-Theorizing” etc. Hello, GUNTHER.

17) Do you have any extra marzipan?

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Curse of Cousin Smith

Very disappointing. Very silly, and to little point. Never even mind how Cousin Smith managed to find Zachary when all Earth is presumably grieving over the loss of the Robinson Expedition. Guy’s shell game at the end (and banter with Maureen) was about the only thing that kept it from being a complete loss. Well, that and Penny’s naive, “Show us the trick with the dice that always come up seven!”

West of Mars…(heaves deep sigh)

Well, most of it wasn’t that bad, and some was pretty good. I liked Harris as Zeno, and I liked Zeno as a character, especially scratching his matches off the Robot!

Got kind of a kick seeing Archie Bunker’s next-door neighbor Barney Hefner as the cop.

Then they went to Dodge. I honest to God had to cover my eyes when they started riding the animals. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, but it’s starting to toll pretty loud, isn’t it?

If not for that, this could have been a pretty strong episode. Pity. This, I think, was the first episode where I thought it seemed like there were two completely different production crews making two different shows, with the occasional overlap of plot and character. Really, separate out these two sequences and just watch the bit at the Jupe, it’s pretty good.

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A Visit To Hades

I had absolutely no recollection of this from younger days, except possibly the carved dragon. From the little bits I had picked up on the Yahoo boards, I was hoping that it would tend more toward the mythological: a lyre and the Underworld being redolent of Orpheus and Eurydice. Only the vaguest shadow of this story cast itself upon the episode as Don & Judy escape from this mock-Hades.

The look back at Smith’s life was pretty bad, especially as a young boy. And he’s had such a good track record so far doing his own alter egos! Someone else mentioned in another context (Prisoners of Space, I think) that Smith’s attempted mass murder gets largely whitewashed: even more egregiously so here. Snitching cake vs. sabotaging a spaceship and sending six innocents to their doom? The latter doesn’t even merit mention?

Well, given that it was PENNY’S BIRTHDAY CAKE I would rank that offence as very grave indeed, but still (a close) second to trying to kill everyone. Morbus mentions that he has been imprisoned for leading a revolution — which is exactly the story of Satan’s expulsion from Heaven. But then there’s the bit toward the beginning, when Smith is first down there and assumes he is in Hell, Morbus pops up from behind a rock and says, “If that’s what he wants to believe, why not?” That line is a close-up, and it crossed my
mind that =maybe= they patched that in after-the-fact just to establish that he is NOT really the Devil. Perhaps the original concept left it more ambiguous?

This . . . was truly embarrassing.

However, I still liked the bare concept quite a lot, and rewrote this as one of my Lost In Space Adventures; if you’re interested you can find that collection elsewhere in this drawer.

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The Wreck of the Robot

Well, a lot better than the previous offering.

I was filled with some trepidation as we open with Smith doing a faceplant with a pink bowling ball, but thankfully we went largely uphill from there. I was a little up and down with the Robot: I’m liking his duels with the Doctor a lot more, even as I’m liking Smith less. I =loved= his snide, deadpan, “We might have to blast.” regarding the bowling ball stuck (predictably) on Smith.

I thought his weepy little episode among the rocks was a little much, even after catching the particular significance of this scene to the end game. I think we’ve already been getting regular exposure to the Robot becoming a little more than just a machine, and didn’t need to be beaten over the head with it (almost as bad as the bit at the beginning of Cousin Smith: “Because you are my friend.” with the hug.) I also got a good laugh out of his later line to the freezing Smith: “Come into my arms.” As I noted before, it reminds me of the deadpan humor Leslie Nielsen did so well.

The aliens were pretty good, and nicely creepy. Unintentional at the time of course, but I think now the hats and faces are reminiscent of Freddy Krueger. Looks like we’ve learned about subtlety, as the aliens mostly slink around in the shadows, something I don’t think we’ve seen since Magic Mirror. Especially effective in the last sequences, when John & Don have come to destroy the alien device.

Random thoughts:

At about 10:45, as John & Don enter the cave, there is a decrepit machine that looks a bit like Officer #6 from Ghost Planet, or at least like it’s made from some of the same parts (visible again as they leave.) Well, we know they reused props and costumes a LOT. In fact these here-nameless aliens crop up later as Saticons, leaving a bit of fan controversy as to whether these are indeed the same creatures or just happen to look a lot like them.

John has talked about only going out in pairs due to the alien threat, and then they leave the front door unlocked???

Especially when the aliens come for the Robot, their speech reminds me of the very creepy character known as “The G-Man” in the Half-Life game series. (“Wake up and smell…the ashesss… Dr. Freeman.”)

Last week, Smith went to Hell for snitching a piece of Penny’s birthday cake, this week he stuffs down a whole Boston Creme Pie???

Wonder if they stuffed wiring and stuff down the regular Robot costume, or if they built a whole second prop like that? Bet they know over on the Props group.

This time, I think Don got a good comical scene, not so much the whole ‘ghost Robot’ bit, but waving his arms about and shouting afterward, mimicking the Robot.

The homicidal hose choking Judy had potential to be dreadful, but it came off well (despite the stage floor showing through the sand on a close up.) On the other hand, Smith’s encounter on the electric bike was way too predictable, and did NOT benefit from the fast-motion treatment.

How could it possibly have taken this shipload of geniuses so long to figure out a connection between the aliens and the machinery acting up? Especially after John says, “It almost felt like some outside force was controlling this drill!” Later: “A machine that could control other machines! Could be a very powerful weapon.” What my people call a “remote control.” Yes, a very powerful weapon, in my wife’s hands.

Even in the future, WD-40 is the machine’s wonder drug!

Very touching scene when Maureen overhears John & Don’s plan to go to the aliens’ installation. She’s a wonderfully strong woman.

Unintentionally funny line, blame George Lucas: Robot, “The force is too strong for me!” He doesn’t know the power of the Dark Side.

The climax, with the aliens’ claim that ‘neither man nor machine’ could destroy their gadget, and the Robot’s self-exposition as something neither one nor the other: that reminded me a bit of the 1980 movie “Excalibur” (poss. my absolute favorite movie of all time), where Morgana is casting a spell on Mordred so that “no weapon forged by man” could harm him. Aha, but where did Excalibur come from, hmmm?

John: “The very instruments they chose as weapons, finally destroyed them.” Another whiff of Cold War fears.

So a solid entry, in my book, and a lot better than I was expecting at this stage. But Nathan Juran seems to do some of the best.

On the other hand, I’m also put to mind of a section from “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy,” where it explains that the marketing strategy of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation is simply that their machines are so unreliable, faulty, and defective, that you feel it is a victory getting them to do =anything at all=, quite apart from any purpose they were meant for: maybe Irwin Allen’s strategy, like unto this, was to deliberately produce a number of utter stinkaroos just to make the rest of them look that much better.

(On a personal note, I’m finding it difficult at times to keep some of my story concepts ahead of where the series itself takes some topics: in this case, the development of the Robot as more than just a machine. That was already pretty much a given, but I’m trying to push the concept out a little bit farther, and here the series itself is already out there. In my second story, Symphony of an Angel, John considers the Robot as an actual citizen for some purposes; I note that he is probably the first robot in human history to cast a ballot in a civic election (disbanding as a crew and re-establishing as citizens of a civil government). And in Through Endless Skies, the Robot himself recounts some of his personal history.

Final thought for the day: interestingly ambiguous title! Does it refer solely to the physical wreck the aliens left the Robot in? Does it allude to the Robot wrecking the aliens’ machine and plans? Something else, possibly? Today’s food for thought….

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The Dream Monster

Hmm. Kinda mixed feelings on this. Nothing terribly wrong with it, but nothing terribly right about it to grab me the way Wreck of the Robot did. Interesting to see the Robinsons acting more like the Bundys. “Hey Maureen, are you gonna cook dinner or should I just scrape crumbs and lint out of the launch couch?”
(I rewrote this one as a Lost In Space Adventure as well, and quite definitely had that in mind.)

I think this is the second time now we’ve seen Penny with some colorful ribbons in her hair. I think Gamma 6 she had big red ones up at the top, yellow ones down the bottom of the braids this time.

This wasn’t really a “Penny” episode, despite her being the catalyst that sets it all off. If anything it was more of a “Don” episode, which is fine in my book too; he’s definitely a close second to Penny as my favorite character, and Mark Goddard may even be crowding Angela as my favorite actor/actress (even if he’s not =quite= as pretty.)

I dunno, this just seemed a little too predictable and formulaic, and too many plot canyons. Why do his two little critters seem to have the whole range of feeling that Raddion is missing? Hard to tell as they seem to speak Cousin Ittish. Sesmar himself certainly seems to have some human-type feelings too, despite seeming not to comprehend some.

Also, this is how many times in how many episodes we’ve visited the theme, in one way or another? Including the very last one.

For that matter, how many times have Penny’s stories been dismissed so airily when far more incredible things have happened to them all? Penny: “I met an alien!” All: “Don’t be silly, when have we ever seen aliens on this distant planet?”

If this was supposed to be more of a direct riff of the “Frankenstein” theme, as the opening narration indicates, it whiffs right off the bat: Frankenstein’s creature’s crisis was precisely that he DID have all his human feelings, and received nothing but pitchforks and fire in return. (OK, yes, I AM thinking laterally to “Young Frankenstein” and “But vat did ze Creature give you in return???” but don’t mean anything by it here. On the other hand, if any of you have read my “Symphony of an Angel,” yes, that is exactly what I was alluding to in a certain scene down by the Pond. *wink*) I wonder if the business specifically with flowers being beautiful was a deliberate allusion to the (real) Frankenstein scene with him throwing the flowers into the pond?

At the beginning, Sesmar says he needs to build a lab there, later, when he fixes the A/C unit, he says he’s been there a year. Continuity error? Sesmar lying? To what purpose if he is?

Interesting how D&J get the A/C going when the machinery is still on the bench. Twice, with Sesmar’s help. It certainly doesn’t seem to be connected up in any way.

What the heck is in that ray gun? Fireworks? When Sesmar passes it off to Thing 1, he races offstage with it – I’m betting to douse it in a bucket of water.

Would have liked to see more of the Don/Smith business, where they have to work together while hating each other.

The couple of moral lessons enunciated, through true enough, seemed to drop in kind of clunky with no finesse or subtlety. The overall feel I get out of this ep is that it just didn’t gel or come together quite right. As has been said many times before now, by many of us, There’s a great story here, but….(and again, see my Lost In Space Adventures  for a more serious treatment of it.)

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The Golden Man

OK, looks like we’re back on the upswing with The Golden Man! Excellent story line, quite well done. =Severely= compromised by some achingly bad effects. The beach ball mines inspired an actual facepalm, and the Christmas tree lights that I suppose represented electrical barbed wire gave me an outright laugh. Keema’s “Ugly” head was almost into the “They’re not even trying” class, and Kermit not much better. Can’t they even get mouths that move?

(To be fair — vindictively so — the Star Trek episode “Arena,” which boasted a similar premise and aired shortly after this, also boasted an alien costume even more absurd.)

The Madness of Robot B9 was dreadful. Plot hole: how come he had to get so bloody close to the cave? Only time yet I’ve liked Smith better than the Robot.

Well. All that vented:

Wow. Very deep. A LOT of ideas boiling around. Again I see Cold War anxiety, with two superpowers wreaking havoc. Another popular ’60s theme, the dangers of prejudice based on appearance, whether gold or green or black or white. Closely related to that, the dangerous lure of seductive superficiality.

Penny says of Keema, “All shine and glitter with nothing of value underneath.”

(In my story, speaking of, er, a certain location, Penny says, “I don’t like this place any more. You’re right, it’s nothing but a big shiny, glittery, rat-trap.” Wow, I swear I wrote that a month or more before seeing this.)

Speaking of Penny, when she says, “I won’t mention the war again,” did anyone else think of Basil Fawlty and the German visitors?

Why does she call him “The little alien”, twice, I think? Maybe the storyboards pictured him as one of the small-size actors?

Another great showcase for Maureen. What a gal. Not quite as dramatic a sequence as what we saw in Wreck of the Robot or Sky Pirate (in both of which she is looking at the imminent deaths of either her husband or all of them). A different face, the strong, cool-headed leader.

And of course Penny. Again, her simplicity and innocence sees through the superficial BS that baffles the supposed adults: or the BS they baffle themselves with (“But the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes at all!”) I worry that this might get to be too pat a character for her, when she really has the potential for such depth. I think this episode virtually reappears shortly as The Questing Beast — same motif, same Penny perceptiveness. *sigh*

Strong echoes of the classic Frog Prince fairy tale of course. Where was that golden bowling ball this week??? And the archetype of the bad guy disguised as the good guy is as ancient as Eden.

All in all, a winner. If only a little CGI could go in to redraw those dang beach balls.

Followup – if you haven’t guessed – another Lost In Space Adventure. I left the story mostly alone, and focused on painting different pictures of the characters and effects. To be fair, I’ve read that the original script actually called for an “electronic minefield” to trap Judy; I polished that up a bit too.

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Girl From the Green Dimension

You know how an attacking army will first soften up a defensive position with artillery bombardment before the main assault?

I think “Girl From the Green Dimension” was that bombardment.

To start on the plus side, it had some decent moments. Some nice brother/sister moments with Penny, who is being wonderfully sweet, of course, to Green Will. One of her comments about being a color that goes with anything, sounds a bit like Kermit the Frog’s song, “It Isn’t Easy Being Green.”

The Robot got in a nice line about green being “Not as desireable or exclusive as a sturdy silver-grey…” Somehow it reminds me of one of the bizarre non-sequiters tossed off by Johnny/Jacobs in the two Airplane! movies. (“I can make a hat. Or a brooch. Or a pterodactyl…”)

Good effect keeping Athena floating about most of the time. Very smooth. Athena? She was Lorelei in the credits, first time we met her, otherwise nameless. Another side effect of different writers/directors, I assume (she wasn’t Packer’s character.) Speaking of which, another edit discontinuity, I believe — Smith’s knowledge of her name and pursuit of seeing the future pop up with no setup at all.

After Tom Sawyer, Smith seeing what he thinks is his own funeral was a decent bit, especially as we are pretty sure that not even at his funeral would they be saying those things. One wishes that whole bit could have had a better resolution than burying a piece of radioactive waste in their back yard.

Will’s bath– remember I mentioned “Little House On the Prairie” some time back? I think they had the same tub.

Beyond that . . .a goofy mishmash. A real “WTF?” moment, pardon me ladies: what was with the fire trail that led Will over to where Smith was giving the girl deutronium shots? No-one else noticed it? Will didn’t think it odd enough even to say “Hey Dad, look at that!”? Someone on the Yahoo boards made a remark about how much equipment they seem to have, and what it would look like to have it all ranged about a J2 model, and if it would really have all fit inside. Never mind fitting it in, how did they even get that telescope out the door??? Hard to believe Urso and Athena live on the same planet, are the same culture. Why doesn’t he fly, or eat deutronium? Is deutronium like pixie dust? Her dialogue got pretty annoying.

This week’s Fun Science Fact: telescopes are just like windows. I wish I’d known that when I  lived down the road from that all-girls boarding school.

Looking at this as a simple comedy episode, I think it would have worked a lot better if they’d kept the humor dry, wry, and subtle. Their humor comes across like a buckshot blast, overpowered and going every which way, when it could be as precise and incisive as a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range. All in all, weak. I’m sure some of this can attributed to what I see as the ongoing issue of the mishmash of writers and directors, but the plot itself just doesn’t seem to make much sense, even worse than a couple of real stinkers that we’ve already seen. I guess we should just be glad that it wasn’t worse.

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The Questing Beast

Pleasantly surprised. Nowhere near as painful as I’d prepared myself for, although Sagramonte’s initial appearance had me cringing. I think that if one were to just read the script, it would come off a lot more impressively. Sir S’s buffoonery and the cartoon sound effects set a very ominous tone.

Q- was it meant as a joke by itself, or was it just poor propping that Sir S carries a full-sized couched lance? Which of course is meant only for a mounted knight. When he drops in, it looks like he’s pretending to ride a horse, much as in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (and yes, there will soon be LOL with Sir S and “You’re using coconuts!”) I’ll give’m the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s a deliberate joke: maybe even a joke on Sir S, that he doesn’t understand this himself.

Sir S’s speeches are quite powerful and noble — Conried of course being another megastar guest. Just looked him up on the W; 2 fun facts I didn’t know – he’d been a regular on The Danny Thomas Show, where Angela Cartwright of course got started, and was the voice of legendary villain Snidely Whiplash on Rocky & Bullwinkle, where June Foray voiced Rocky, and who does the voice of Gundemar here. Oh, is he calling the dog “Bayer” or “Bayerth,” sounds like they sometimes aren’t sure. According to W, Conried’s mother’s middle name was “Beyr.” Not sure I like that he ends up being not just a buffoon, but a hypocritical one.

Significant departure from SOS (Same Old Smith) too, especially at this stage. Very little clowning, some real soul from him as he tries to bring Will back from his disillusionment, very moving (“Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up, etc.”). Unexpected courage when he looks John in the eye and says, “I’m sure you’re aware it was all a lie.”

Gundemar is the weakest link. I don’t know if it’s one of those rules of show biz, but with two antagonists, they can’t BOTH be stooges, I think.

“It isn’t the quarry that makes the hunt, nor the goal the game.” Anyone know the origin of this? Smith sounds very much like he’s quoting again, but I’m finding nothing online (except as an LIS quote!)

ll in all, a lot better than I was prepared for, by a long way. Much to my surprise, I’m gonna call this one a winner. Still – couldn’t keep my hands off it. Another Lost In Space Adventure. I did like this too much to tamper with it, and so it became a very different story.

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The Toymaker

On the whole, I’d rather have watched “Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.”

I probably should leave it at that. But no…On the plus side: at first, the workshop was nicely creepy, at first anyway, and a lot more effectively so than a lot of the sets. It even rivaled the Mirror Dimension, at least for the first minute or so. The dangling mannequins were almost surrealistically weird, and the Minotaur-like monster was a better creature than almost any other, at least until he needed a key in his belly button. Beyond that…ugh. I got the idea this was a gratuitous excuse to bring back
Zumdisch, and even he somehow wasn’t as appealing the second time around. O.M.
got even O.’er real quick. A left-handed plus – I thought Smith was going to be a lot more absurd painted up. And what the — ? At first I thought John’s ebullience over the toys was a ruse to get O.M. into his confidence. Then, he really seems determined to set up in business, very enthusiastic. THEN – the dollhouse falls apart, and Will says it’s just like everything else he made! Whaaa…? Then Smith and Will completely forget that the store has portals to Earth? Honestly, I wanted to see more of a story about plugging up the fissure. I believe that is Bob May himself, not Dick Tufeld, we hear singing “Today Is Penny’s Birthday” at the end.  Perhaps they figured it would be too difficult to get Tufeld’s voice synced up with the rest of the cast?  (Usually what we hear as the Robot’s voice is a dubover.) Or maybe he just couldn’t sing a lick! And no, not even Penny’s birthday party salvages this for me. I still think “Hades” is the pits (haha, pun intended), but this comes mighty close.

~~~~~~

The Toymaker, Revisited (after particular urging by a fan of the ep.)

A few minor bits I do like:

Near the start, we see Maureen repairing the washing machine, also we know she is in charge with the men away. A strong and capable woman, but who remains quite feminine.

The Robot, when Will tells him “You don’t count, you’re just a machine.” The way his pop-top drops is wonderfully expressive! His “Oh. I see.” is almost unnecessary.

The business with the fissure is well done, and the plot tension it adds is plausible and reasonable, at least more so than “Launch windows” and some of the other unlikely propositions we get from time to time.

The first glimpse of the toy shop is very creepy, especially with the “bodies” hanging about. The Toymaker does have some nice lines, there, and I liked the “this place can’t be any other place” bit – not sure I like the shrill, rapid-fire delivery though. I do get the wistfulness of his “boy – sir – Old Man” tale this time.

Don’t often see John and the Robot interacting extensively, esp. after S1. Liked John’s response to the Robot’s hesitancy getting into the machine, and his somewhat exasperated manner of dealing with him thereafter. Guess that’s as far from playing it straight as he gets, and is an amusing and interesting departure.

On the contrary side (I’ll avoid too much, and note only what I don’t recall mentioning last time): Penny running off so readily with Will seems a bit out of character, despite his rationalization. I think it would have fitted both better if Will had impulsively bolted, and she had followed only to bring him back. She’s usually much more Maureen Jr., strong-willed and quite sensible. Remember, this is the girl who jumped in front of a knight’s lance to defend a dragon.

OM says he closed down his outlet on Earth because the kids have too many toys already. And it’s Christmas. I wonder how this would have worked if O.M. was more of a Santa Claus type?  Or if that might have been part of the original story concept? Or is that an obvious motif that I just missed before?

Bottom line 2.0:  I’m afraid this will never be one of my favorites, but maybe I was a bit harsh first time around. There are a few nice touches, but as with far too many of these S2s, it seems they just drop the ball. OM’s whole motivation here gets reduced to a couple bits at either end, and it does seem more could have been made of that. And above all (sorry, I know I said this last time) how do we just forget that the whole Zumdisch distribution system has doorways to Earth??? I’ll withdraw a full “thumbs down” on this, but still doubt that even at its best this would have been anything but a “fluff” ep. Some of my other “Second Tier” faves –Questing Beast, Golden Man, Dream Monster – I at least see a good powerful, entertaining story in there with perhaps a moral or two– maybe they dropped the ball, but at least there was a solid ball to start with. (Not coincidentally, that’s the core of my Adventures project.)

 =====

Mutiny in Space

Wow. Just wow. I don’t know what to make of this. Bizarre and surrealistic. And loaded with more ham than a whole chain of supermarkets the weekend before Easter. I’m really kind of torn here. It’s awful, it’s ridiculous. . . it’s =so= ridiculous it’s almost a
live-action cartoon, complete with cartoon sound effects. Literally. I remember Bugs Bunny doing the same Charles Laughton-as-Bligh impression, only dealing with Yosemite Sam the Pirate instead of Mr. Spindlelegs.

And I WANT the clock with the stuffed owl that gets hit on the head! I ran one bit back a couple times, I thought I misheard it (listening on headphones at work today): at 14 minutes, Zark reports something off “the port blow.” Typo in the script? How do you even do that? How does that get by? At the same time, the business with the missing cheese was indeed right out of the 1962 movie with Marlon Kidno, er, Brando; the Laughton version mentions it too. And one of my favorite stars of all time is mentioned, Zubenelgenubi, yeah, for real. I’m former Merchant Marine, and Zb is, if I recall, the
last star in the mariner’s catalog of navigational stars (H.O. Pub. 249.). Oh yeah and so I do have a certain appreciation for the nautical theme.

Some terrific acting by Guy Williams, I wonder how many takes he needed explaining the ‘magnetic reverser,’ before he could deliver that all with a straight face? Again, they kicked on the power and I saw Marvin the Martian’s ray gun. On a solid plus side – a new model space ship! One that looks plausible on the outside, aside from the nautical decor.

I would like to think that Zark is just a batspit crazy Luddite, much as I hope to be someday, or possibly just severely into Steampunk. I mean, rather than think that a spaceship might actually be rigged like that. I dunno. I think this is the breakthrough episode where they shatter a barrier more formidable even than that of light-speed, and achieve so-bad-it’s-good Ludicrous Speed. I think I like it, in an S & M kind of way. Or to turn another expression around, No, Lost In Space, I am not laughing with you, I really am laughing AT you. Again, I just don’t know what to make of this. Except maybe — it was the ’60s.

A few handy references:

Laughton as Bligh:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Charles_Laught\on_in_Mutiny_on_the_Bounty_trailer.jpg

Bugs Bunny as Laughton as Bligh:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f7/Buccaneer_Bunny_1.JPG<https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f7/Buccaneer_Bunny_1.JPG>
The whole Buccanner Bunny episode:

http://youtu.be/MGxXWnGkRIU<http://youtu.be/MGxXWnGkRIU>

 ===== 

The Space Vikings

I liked it, in a perverse way, as pure over-the-top burlesque.

I think I discovered another edit discontinuity. Why does the Robot start insisting he threw the hammer at the J2? I suspect Smith instructed him to take the blame, but that got cut.

As for the rest. Loved Thor. Brunhilde too, found her strangely attractive. The bit with the sponge-rocks reminded me of the Abbott & Costello bit, switching the poisoned cups around (which they did a few different times, and others as well, Lucy & Ricky too. Classic comedy routine.) Thor on the analyst’s couch approaches brilliance. And I was liking “I’ve got you under my skin!” for a while now, just at someone else’s mention of it.

I dunno, maybe watching S2 is kinda like the 5 stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Actually, I think you can go through all 5 just with this episode. Just forget about Reluctant Stowaway and Magic Mirror and Follow the Leader, and just. . .accept it for what it is. Time for another bottle of mead, and I’m going to see if the wife has any dried dragonflies in the fridge.

=====

Rocket To Earth

Having now seen the entire series, I think this remains at the absolute bottom in my liking, as in, “Not one little bit.” Al Lewis and the dummy were raucous, grating, entirely unfunny. The premise made NO sense. They’re really that close to Earth? Honestly, I would think somebody owed Al Lewis a job and they tossed off a script for him.

=====
Cave of the Wizards
OK, a good solid episode! I’ve actually gone back to give this a second look. I admit I was slightly disappointed, but only because I think I was expecting a somewhat different story. (Another reason I’m giving it a second run.) I had already seen some enthusiastic comments about the line, “There is no lower deck,” and I was expecting some dire alien wizardry had spirited it away, possibly with the rest of the crew, so it was a bit of a letdown that it was only a J2 copy.

From the top then — amnesiac Smith done very well, as is his secondary personality throughout. I admit to considering it a relief to see Harris NOT doing the Smith-shtick continually.

Another little continuity break – when first w/o memory, the Robot refers to the “Jupiter,” (twice actually) but Smith comes back that he does not know what the “Jupiter 2” is. Poss. Bob May delivered “J2” and Tufeld did not?

Speaking of his secondary personality, I wonder if they were deliberately making a visual reference to Spock??? High eyebrows and pointy ears?

The cave itself – believe I recognized a couple more mirror dimension props, the Egyptian statue, etc. A mummy? Why a mummy, to match the furniture? The rock monsters were a more plausible story element, and looked a lot better than a lot of the alien/monsters. Only complaint is that I had no idea what they were supposed to be until Will called them that.

Clever little bit that almost gets lost in the sauce — when the Robot asks “Have I ever been wrong?” Will says, “Well as a matter of fact –” before getting interrupted. Sounds like he’s got the goods on the Robot! A clever Smithism about sassafras not being the Robot’s cup of tea.

Delivery of the (in)famous line, “There is no lower deck” really is perfect. One really wishes it had a meatier plot point to hang off of.

The voice from the video screen in the cave sounds like Froggy from Golden Man. Speaking of which: “Golden Boy”! Fun to see the Robot indulging in vanity. We know he’s far too human to be a robot. “Stay back! You’ll soil the gold!” Another sloppy bit — how/why do Smith and the Robot BOTH forget that the Rocks are friendly to him? Was it just to get that bit of silliness from the Robot?

Some oddness – Smith names the Rockies Gog & Magog, which are Scriptural references of course. Earlier, when still under the influence, he states, “I am who I am,” which is how God identified Himself to Moses! Packer must have been doing some interesting reading the week before. That particular phrase also has a specific significance in one of the Masonic degrees, and some of the business the machines are giving to Smith strikes me as vaguely Masonic – the single eye, golden necklace, some of the dialog, particularly that he is doing it of his own volition — even the Rocks which seem to be ceremonially hostile. Wonder if Packer was on the Square? When John & Don show up and ask to speak to Smith, he replies, “I am many persons,” which at this point I think is pretty clearly alluding to the line “Call me Legion, for I am many,” also of course a Scriptural reference (not Masonic though.)

Smith says “Draconian,” the machines say “Dranconian,” I think.

Obviously a stuntman and not Harris riding the Robot. I understand he was very generous in giving work for any scene that had anything that might have been considered a stunt, also that he DID have the bad back which Smith often complained of. Is that Bob May’s voice we hear there, too? At about 43m, when he says, “Get on my tracks and ride piggyback.” it sounds different. Also, when Harris has his head on the far side of the Robot, just before the stuntman takes it – Smith says “Mush, you ninny!”- you can see Bob May’s head in profile behind the glass.

Maureen looks good in a spacesuit, doesn’t she?

Gripes: First, we’ve seen all this before, haven’t we? The invaders from the 5th dimension needed Smith to run their computers, we’ve already seen him take a crown in His Majesty Smith, we’ve seen the robot civilization – I think the blobby thing was the same one in charge on the Ghost Planet, and we’ve seen the alien consciousness take over in Follow the Leader.

Second, the whole business with the J2 copy doesn’t make sense. I mean it makes for an interesting sequence but there’s no real point to it. Did they really do that just to lure him back, knowing he would get the idea to try and make a working duplicate? Pretty tenuous. I thought they already had him mentally hooked. The Robot never explains why he doesn’t tell them the fake Jupe is fake, either, and I can’t think of any reason he wouldn’t. Why do the bits keep vanishing? And the J2 miniature in the cave is neither mentioned nor explained. I suspect this is another instance of bits getting edited out which would have made a much stronger episode.

At the very least, yes, they’re trying to do a serious episode again, but that whole first bit isn’t very strong, story-wise, despite being good visually and some very good acting. Finds its feet a lot better after that though. Also a bit tenuous, but necessary to the plot, is the J2’s tight liftoff schedule. If you’re just getting up and away, and not rendezvousing with a space station or the moon, I’m not sure such a narrow launch window is really necessary — I’ll let that go by though.

Bottom line – a solid effort, and hopefully a harbinger of better things to come, at least after more Space Pirates.

Personal aside – another ep I don’t think I have any recollection of. May have been my absolute first time with this.

Best line of episode: “All checked and secured, Mom.”
Because it’s Penny’s only line.

=====

Treasure of the Lost Planet

Well, I did like this quite a bit more than I expected, despite being, I think, quite firmly among the sillier episodes. Salmi as Tucker is a heck of an act. Well, one has to be, to out-ham Harris. OK, I can just about wrap my credulity around the notion that Tucker came from Earth a hundred years ago and was born on National Talk Like A Pirate Day. But two other aliens -ALIENS, mind you- with the same shtick? And all four of them carrying weapons that were outdated when Matt Dillon walked the Earth?

Maybe they all went to the Stanislavski Pirate School together. Maybe that’s where they learned “The Ballad of Capt. Kidd.” Good to see the Minotaur back (from Toymaker) without the key in his belly this time. The blunderbuss suited him well, I’ll admit. The Talking Head was quite good. I remembered the “Good evening” line from it. Subtly creepy, and not at all silly.

I’m liking the Robot more all the time. His commentary and wisecracks remind me more and more of the MST3K ‘bots. Wonder if they’re related? He bears more than a passing resemblance to Tom Servo. Nick the Parrot was somewhat annoying, but very much in the same role, and come to think of it, looks a bit like Crowe T. Robot, appropriately enough.

Couple nice little family bits, particularly between John & Don about Don & Judy. I think John is starting to suspect that something’s up, pardon the expression. There was some discussion on one of these boards a while back as to whether we had ever seen Penny armed or actually shooting. We still haven’t, as far as I know, but when John locks down the area, he tells Maureen, “Arm yourself and the girls.” So I think we can definitively say that yes, Penny does pack heat, even if we never see it. Where did she go, anyway? She completely vanished after the first couple sequences. Between Z.Smith, Cousin J. Smith, and Zeno (pseudo-Smith), Penny is becoming quite the gambler. What happened to the gold coin she found on 8 Black?

I like Harris ok when he plays it a little bit straighter, finding the squealing and fainting and shrieking more and more annoying. *sigh* I know that aint gonna be changing much. “Just one zap…” indeed.

The story itself — nicely done, sound little moral at the end. That was the one other thing I remembered, although I woulda sworn it was John who says “It’s nothing but pig iron.” Oh, and Tucker swearing himself blue in the face he’s going to go straight this time, and not disappoint Will by being a “bad pirate” any more. I know, in another 5 years, the Tucker Family will be completely legitimate. So what’s the scoop — is this the closest he’s actually come to really being a pirate? Is he still just a phony, trading on a cool accent and snappy wardrobe? Guess we’ll never know now…

Some good, fairly intense moments during the final treasure-hunt sequence, with gunplay threatening to break loose.

Anyway, this one gets the nod, albeit somewhat hesitantly. At least the plot is coherent and consistent, and has a bit of depth to it. Nice harpsichord music too!

Favorite line:
“When we kept a close watch on ye, ye were a fair dealing man.”

=====

Revolt of the Androids

Well, another happy surprise. Although at this juncture, I think it’s a happy surprise when ANY episode isn’t a complete trainwreck. I do think this is better than just “not a disaster” though.

I got off to a good start. I was just starting to wonder if IDAK was a deliberate satire on Superman, with the several references to “super-beings,” when yes, the Robot delivers his immortal line, “I do not think he’s going to be able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.” Honest to God, I had to stop the video for minute until I stopped laughing. The Robot really has some gems in this one. “I do not like to work on foreign imports.” (That used to be as common as “I don’t do windows,” in the US, kiddies.) “All chrome where it shows and no engineering where it does not.” “What’s that, a built in-turn signal?” (I wonder if the Duncans had been car-shopping that week???) And I really have to think “I’m not a miracle worker,” was a deliberate reference to “TOS” (That Other Show.) The revived rivalry between him and Verda seemed a bit forced, but at least they didn’t run it into the ground.

Speaking of Verda – nice to see her again, and looking hotterr, errr, more human than ever. I was a bit worried at first that the whole machine-becoming-human motif was also in danger of getting run into the ground. There wasn’t really much in the way of new insight, but it still stayed fresh. I liked the touch that IDAK had to be made with some humanity to him so he could retain freedom of action.

Does anyone else see a “Terminator” motif in IDAK??? Verda says, “They’ve created a destruction android and sent him after me… The destruction android cannot be stopped…Sooner or later, it will find me.” Mmm-hmm. And it can’t be reasoned with, and it doesn’t feel pity, remorse, or fear. Woulda been funny -in this era- if his initials were just “IDK” or even “IDFK.”

Something that threw me a bit of a loop: for some reason I was thinking that this was from the “Vikings” writers, so at the climax, when IDAK 1 is having to fight IDAK 2 without his full powers, I was thinking that they were recycling the Thor and the Magic Gloves problem. Still, this – unfortunately – goes to another ongoing gripe I have, that a LOT of themes seem to get revisited now.

Wonderful lines from Penny, when she’s trying to help Verda escape: “You’re almost human now, Verda, and humans don’t give up. They may be in trouble or they may be afraid, but they don’t give up.” Wow! That’s my Penny! Err, rather literally. That sounds a lot like the bold, strong Penny that’s in my own stories.

(Warning: self promotion: “Remember me now? I’m the one who grew up here, making this planet cough up flowers out of poison sand for me. I get my way, and don’t you forget it.”  “I’m glad you’re on my side, angel.”  “No, you’re on my side, and don’t forget that, either,” she grinned.  –from the 3rd Trilogy story, Through Endless Skies.)

And, for that matter, like Season 1 Penny, who shoots monsters in mirror dimensions and makes friends with galaxies, instead of just picking flowers for Mummy. OK, that’s not fair, even in S2 she shows a lot of spirit sometimes. When they give her screen time, that is.

OK, where does this ep blow it, and how? Actually, not so bad here. Smith (or Harris’ stuntman) getting his arse kicked at karate. Predictable & obvious. Material for those who find The Three Stooges too sophisticated. Smith in general. The baseball sequence. Again, kind of predictable. I started to say there wasn’t much point to the whole sequence, but I retract that; we got another almost-attack and Verda bamboozling IDAK out of it. Hmm . . . does he =want= to be bamboozled at this point??? The IDAK costume seemed a bit silly after the initial Superman gag. Wish he could have ditched the cape or something. The “thigh wire connected to the etc.” from the Robot was kinda lame.

All in all though, a lot better than what I was prepared for.

=====

The Colonists

Hearken!

Not bad, not bad at all. I didn’t realize that this was the bunch visiting over at the Fan Club (“Penny’s the grooviest, man!”) We were doing pretty well until Smith turned out dressed as a centurian.

I noticed there was another little bit in the trailer that got cut from the beginning, when the girls are setting up the station, Judy had forgotten to put in the battery. *sigh* Girls! I was thinking that was pretty gratuitous, until I realized it was part of the setup.

When the station at the ship blows, and Maureen comes chugging out with “Well can I help?” I wanted to scream “Get the fire extinguisher!!!”

I wasn’t sure that this was all a sort of backwards commentary on Women’s Lib until the end, when Maureen makes her comment about “equality of the sexes.” Tell her later, dear. Right now we need more coffee.

Nice to see an actual explained and sensible explosion! Instead of just as a shorthand special effect. Very good explosion, too. Unfortunately it was immediately followed by the sight of the colony ship doing an instant course-reversal in mid-flight: literal “LOL.”

I suppose I should also mention that, to the best of my knowledge, plastic explosive doesn’t blow on impact, so Will & Smith’s bumbling juggling of the statue was pointless.

Neolani was a little over the top for my taste. Reminded me of the worst grade of 50s movie — or best spoof, as may be seen in the classic “Amazon Women on the Moon.” (“There will be no further commercial interruption.”)

What I really want to know — was that hood just ornamental? Or protecting her hairdo? Or were those spikes actually part of her head??? The world may never know…

Funny and disturbing to see Penny so getting into the domineering! Even my grown-up Penny isn’t quite that harsh, but of course my alter-ego willingly submits to her mastery (and of course she’s really a softy on the inside.)

Perhaps the lateness of the hour, but I found Will slightly annoying for some reason. Just me? Or did anyone else get that too?

Best line: “Split! The goons!”

Bottom line: not a boundary, but an easy two runs at least. (That’s for our Australian friends.)

No? OK…

=====

A Trip Through the Robot

Another solid episode. I’ve noted before often how many scripts seem to be drawn from folklore and literature; let me make the observation that this one seems to have been inspired (I think that’s the more “non-actionable” term, as we lawyers might say) by the 1966 movie “Fantastic Voyage,” which depicted a miniaturised submarine traveling through a human body. The laser antibody device especially made me think of that.

Let’s dismiss the few flaws at the top. First, the premise itself, that some bizarre quality of the “Valley of Shadows” made the Robot grow like that. That’s forgivable to establish a plot. At least the “reversal of ionic polarity” tried to make a sensible premise. I’ve seen a “Dr. Who” drinking game where you have to down a shot whenever the Doctor says “Reverse the polarity!”, so we’re in good company at least. Second, the idea that draining its power would effectively “kill” the Robot. We’ve often seen his power pack removed and restored with no lasting effect. I suppose this episode might have been stating that -complete- power drainage from all internal reserves might cause unrecoverable “death,” but it still seems a stretch for -any- machine. Third, maybe (again) the lateness of the hour, but the connection between Will restoring the backup power and reversing the polarity, then restoring normal size seemed tenuous. Fourth – the beginning — *sigh* — they REALLY gave the button-pushing job to Smith??? HOW long has it been now?

As a bridge — terrific set of the Robot’s insides! Although I’m not sure why the equipment right inside the treads seemed to be bleeding steam. Maybe the Robot was Steampunk before it was cool? Which would make him tremendously hip!

The insides in general — before I was a lawyer I spent a lot of years in the merchant marine (merchant navy for our Brit/Aussie friends) and I can tell you that that reminded me a LOT of the engine room of a ship. Very good set work, very authentic.

Of course the one problem with a weekly series is that you know the main characters (especially a kid) are going to come through OK, so you know everyone is going to make it out somehow — but it did a good job of maintaining the tension for the escape.

More impressed every time now with Bob May’s job inside the Robot. Right at the beginning (about 5.50) Smith has -naturally- just blamed the Robot for the disaster. The Robot’s half torso turn and drop of the dome are wonderfully expressive of “Who, me?!?”!!!

Nice little Penny pose at the end, with her foot up on a rock, very Marlene Dietrich.

By last week’s reckoning: Square cut, and it’s four all the way!

=====

The Phantom Family

Mixed feelings on this one, though mostly negative. Good strong opening and closing. Everything in the middle, well….

The three replicants were nicely creepy at the start. When Will finds Judy at the mixing bowl in the galley — and a brief aside, what the heck was on the wall behind her? It looked like the plastic covers you find on cakes in the supermarket these days. For that matter, it looked like the cakes were still in them, all mushed over — Judy was making me go all cold. Right until she started talking all robot-y. That, from all of them, got old real quick. That first Judy/Smith interchange was dreadful.

Harris did a remarkable job of being even more annoying than regular Smith.

The Lemnoc costume was pretty good. I actually found him to be a rather sympathetic villain, if you even want to call him that. Not sure why he would have his name in English letters on the wall of his HQ. No anagram to it, as far as I can tell, although it does include “clone.” Nice props around – X-rays and body molds. Was that one gadget the Wheel from Deadly Games?

Anyone else think Lemnoc sounds a bit like old Ben Kenobi?

The business about taking the J2 back fell flat — I thought they were stranded without fuel. While we’re at it — why does the phone exchange suddenly turn on him and tie up Lemnoc to allow our friends’ escape?

Little slip from Bill Mumy – about halfway through, he calls him “Lumnac.” Speaking of whom — everyone notice that the Chariot has an answering machine?

Nice to see the Robot got his pointer back, at last! Although teaching the girls to sing was a bit painful.

Main gripe, per usual now, recycled themes, from clone family to Smith’s fondness for Will breaking through and saving them all.

I thought/hoped that there was going to be a little bit more philosophical insight (no, really) playing off the “You are nothing but cosmic dust” theme. Got close at the end though with Lemnoc and the remains of Clone Smith — I could almost hear Kansas singing “All we are is dust in the wind…”

Best line: (From Penny) “Give a little girl a big hand?”

Final tally — sorry folks. Well intentioned but didn’t pull it off.

=====

The Mechanical Men

I’ve noted a few times now how pleasantly surprised I’ve been by enjoying an episode I’d been looking forward to with some dread.

This was not one of those times.

At least it didn’t come across as an extended commercial for toy robots. Like many of these S2 episodes, there certainly was an interesting story at the core. And like many, there was a lot I was laughing at, just not the bits that –I assume– one wasn’t supposed to. Our first meeting with the minis, with Smith bound up and carried away, was unquestionably right out of Gulliver, but the first look at them just seemed very silly – yes, that was my first “LOL” moment this hour, along with the Robot done up in royal fashion. Once again my repeated gripe about over-recycled ideas — seen a lot of this already with His Majesty Smith. Oh, and they come from the planet Industro? Industro, really, is that the best you could do, Slater?

I wonder too how much “push” there was to get Harris outside his regular character – we just had that in Phantom Family – and here again – interesting and amusing bits with Smith and Robot conversing in each other’s voices! Unfortunately, not enough to really carry the show, and just as with clone Smith last week (as you remember), Robot Smith got kinda old kinda quick. Not really annoying so much as beating a sight gag into the ground. Fun to see Don having a little fun with Smith!

On the more positive side — the mini-robot torchlight rally had some disturbing undertones, considering who and what torchlight rallies are most often associated with. There was one scene toward the end, I think it was Will and Smith making an escape, when the minis did get creepy — little bombers at every hand — not sure why that worked better (for me at least), I think maybe more the subtlety of the scene rather than itty bitty robots everywhere. An interesting and unusually sensible decision from John to surrender the ship, even though they have to fight after all. And again a nice showing from Maureen wanting to take up arms, even if John does send her back in to freshen up the coffee.

What I’m wondering now, we’ve noted the occasional light social commentary in some of these. All the business with the Robot being a servant even if he is a friend, and his repeated statements about going off to be with “his own kind” and refusing to snitch- a subtle look at race relations?

Also, until he is body-swapped with Smith, the Robot doesn’t indicate at all that he is playing along until he can turn things around, as he did on the machine planet (speaking of recycled ideas) — does he really mean to go off with them, at first, anyway? Not quite sure what to make of all that, if anything.

Bottom line — some nice ideas, but not enough to climb out of Swamp Silly.

=====

The Astral Traveller

Scotsmen and bagpipes AND Penny????? Och, lad, what more could I ask for??? Well, maybe a splash of good Islay single malt, but a bit of India Pale Ale sufficed. Oh my. This would definitely make my top 5, if I kept an official list.

OK for starters, a personal note. If you haven’t caught it before, I am a piper myself, and always have a bit of trepidation when hearing TV or movie pipes. For some reason, pipes in a lot of film are absolutely dreadful. The rendition of “Loch Lomond” here wasn’t bad. Not great, but not bad. By way of comparison, if you ever saw the “I Love Lucy” where Lucy has the dream about being in Scotland (with the Terrible Two-Headed Dragon) the piping in that was hideous, and the piping the Twilight Zone episode “Five Characters In Search Of An Exit” was almost literally painful. Hamish was –to me–  obviously not really playing, and you will never see the drones (the 3 pipes on the shoulder) tuned that far down. If you look close, the middle drone is up a bit, but the other two are jammed right down to the bottom of the slides. Trust me, you NEVER want that.

A bit puzzled as why they went with “Loch Lomond.” I suppose it’s recognizable, and “Amazing Grace” wasn’t yet the hit it became later, but some of you may have noticed that some of the melody seems different – – well, it is. Although one of the most familiar of Scottish songs, it was never a pipe tune, and with the limited range of pipes, you have to cheat a lot of notes. OK, bagpipe lecture over.

Now, I’ve said frequently, I think, how much I’ve been liking the Robot. Well, the rust-eaten bugger lost a lot with me tonight when he referred to hearing “certain cacophonous sounds.” Indeed, you tonedeaf tinplate tintinabulator!

Hamish was great. I’ve spent the better part of my life around Scotsmen, and he reminds me of a LOT of friends I’ve had over the years. (Again, no coincidence that Scotsmen play an important role in my Through Endless Skies.)

When he gripes that he’d rather be a ghost again than go through “another miserable life” with the gout – yeah, he reminds me of a few guys I’ve known!! I don’t know if it was meant as a particular laugh, but I got one, when Hamish is complaining of his gout and Will tells him that his mother can help because she’s awfully good at doctoring – what IS Smith a doctor of??? Will doesn’t even THINK of him!

Laird of Glamis – as was MacBeth! “Thane of Glamis, and of Cawdor to be.” And a history of betraying a king – hmm, deep themes again. Scottish history can be very confusing, but if Hamish had betrayed a king, it would have been King James IV of Scotland (before the United Kingdom under James VI of Scotland/James I of England), and it seems there was a minor kerfuffle in 1497 about succession and heirs, thank you Wikipedia.) He also died in battle at the Battle of Flodden, and there is a pipe tune called “The Flowers of the Forest” which commemorates the battle and serves as the traditional equivalent of “Taps” as a funeral dirge. (Bagpipe lecture over again*.)

Angus – one of the few monster costumes which didn’t come off as just silly. I admit by the time we meet him I was already loving the ep, so I may be showing some bias, but he also put me to mind of H. P. Lovecraft’s shoggoths.

When they get the warp thing going and Don says they’ve only got 20 seconds – really, that’s not enough for everyone to get through? And leave instructions for John? I suppose that’s why he wasn’t there, though. And when Don says, “She’s at max power now, she won’t take it any more!” – THAT certainly sounded like another famous Scotsman!

OK, tell the truth now – anyone else rooting for the headsman??? Nice bit at the end though, I thought, when mercy trumps justice and vengeance. Seem to recall another teacher who spoke of that.

Won’t get into the notion of Hamish swapping between “real” and being a ghost on Earth – or that a laser pistol could have cut through the bars on the dungeon windows….

All in all – top hole! Stroked through the covers for four, all the way!

*For anyone who might be interested in hearing what some real kick*** bagpipes can sound like – check this out from the 2012 World Pipe Band Championships, Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band:

http://youtu.be/SflaNwVOVpU (Medley) and

http://youtu.be/01r_3uWa2_M (March/Strathspey/Reel)

If you want to hear more stunning work search up Simon Fraser Pipe Band and Shotts & Dykehead, other world contenders.

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The Galaxy Gift

Wowee! Another outstanding Penny episode, of course! How could it be otherwise?!

Well, mostly.  The trailer from last week (as you recall) was pretty cringeworthy, what with the Robot done up in drag and all. Penny very cute as a ragamuffin (where DO they get all that stuff?) deliberately overacting, and a particular highlight was Dr. Smith’s outstanding mustache! (Refer back to my photo for the significance of that remark.) Clever & cute too as Dr. Smith mouths his bit of dialog silent-movie style. Great “ad-lib” from the Robot, “Baby it’s cold out there,” from the old song (what a friend of mine once referred to as the “Christmas date-rape song.” THE definitive version by Louis with Velma Middleton: http://youtu.be/0ZBFk-Y-4Jo)

The cringeworthiness continues though as we recycle BOTH heads from Golden Man as well as Froggy’s robe. Thankfully, that was over quickly and we are treated to the immortal John Carradine.

I found the Saticons nicely creepy again. Is this one of those “controversial” bits? Are we agreed that these are the same aliens -at least the same race- from “Wreck of the Robot”? If not, it’s about the most egregious bit of character recycling yet. No-one seems to recognize them at all; I’m guessing that they were costumed as such after the script and didn’t even bother writing in a quick “These guys again!”  Interestingly though, both this and Wreck make the point that the men are away and Maureen is in charge. (Sorry, another aside – I do like seeing this side of her and played it up a little bit more in my take on “Golden Man.” I also torment Smith with the observation I just made here that “the men” were not there.) Nice line from Penny, almost a throwaway, that echoes an old joke done both by Benny Hill and the old New England duo “Bert & I”: after dressing down Penny for being so uneducated, she tells Arcon, “You don’t know where we are either.” I’ll forgive her the crack about men losing their hair.

Not sure if it’s makeup or that she’s getting older for real, but Penny seems to be looking a bit different, her face looks thinner and her eyes don’t have that kind of baggy look they sometimes do.

All in all, though, a nice effort apart from some pretty noticeable plot holes. First and foremost – the Saticons TELL Smith they’ve scanned his mind, and he thinks he’s going to pull a fast one on them? Smith may be a scoundrel, but surely he’s brighter than THAT!

I rather like Arcon’s sleeping fear of the Saticons – shows he does have his weakness.

Smith tolerable in this one. No especial goofiness, and his ruthless self we love to hate.

Back to plot holes and such – they’re afraid of freezing to death, yet Penny can summon up fire with the amulet. When Arcon first entrusts Penny with the amulet, he tells her it can destroy the Galaxy. Later on, she says it can destroy the planet. Big difference there, even considering that, given the era and the writing, “Galaxy” was sometimes confused with “solar system.”

Oh, HUGE laugh. Will & Judy are together watching one of the instruments. Judy says, “The temperature’s stopped dropping.” There are BIG LETTERS on the instrument which say “BAROMETER.”

If the Saticons are so powerful, why do they go to the trouble of making a phony Chinatown on an asteroid? If they have the incredibly powerful amulet, why would they care whether a half dozen humans are back on Earth or not, or whether they live? Also, when done creating “Chinatown,” the one of them refers, I swear, to Smith’s “mammary cells.” Well, he is a boob.

Nice bongs on the Saticon’s dinner table (they’re on the ground when Smith eats with them.) I’m sure the controller for the transfer unit is an aircraft throttle. And if you see how the levers with the spherical tops move – I understand that therein is the origin of the vulgar phrase meaning “all out,” “Ba—s to the wall.” (Those two throttle levers being pushed right up to the cockpit control panel where they could go no further to attain maximum speed.)

Oh, Debby is still with us! When’s the last time we saw her? Wonder if we see her again? No – don’t tell me – I’ll be surprised. One little flub – when Debby comes back with the hot dog, Penny very carefully tries to set it on some piece of equipment, but you can see it fall to the ground when she turns away!  Hmm, I wonder how the Robot got up on the transporter platform?!

The wrap-up – another nice tribute in classic style to friends and family – Maureen of course gives the lesson – “… in (our culture) we forgive mistakes.”

But what – WHAT – was “The Galaxy Gift” itself???  Not the amulet, that’s clear. I suppose whatever it was, was purely secondary to the moral of the story. Perhaps Maureen’s lesson of forgiveness and acceptance is gift enough. (O yikes, that’s corny enough for one of my stories!)

I’ve noted often about other episodes, how they echo established literature or folktales, and I’m trying to peg this one. A simple, honest person charged with a task of trust, for which a greater reward will be given, I’m coming up not quite empty. Of all things, the closest I can think of is the older movie of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” where Charlie is rewarded with the factory after giving back the Everlasting Gobstopper (I think that’s right.) Before that, all I can think is another well-known teacher who told a parable with the moral that from whom much is demanded, much will be given, Well done, thou good and faithful servant. If anyone can think of a similar motif from literature or folklore, speak up!

Bottom line – despite some weaknesses, a solid Lost In Space story, with heartwarming lessons aplenty.  And of course, a “Penny episode” to wrap Season 2. A solid straight drive here, and over the ropes for four, the fielder never had a chance at it.

 

 

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