Review By Paul Mount, 3 out of 5 ?anger! Danger, Scifinders! Cheesy 1960s SF show approaching! Danger!? As a new, super-annuated 21st century version of Irwin Allen? LOST IN SPACE (written by BUFFY? Doug Petrie and directed by John Woo – yes, John Woo!!) is announced, here, just to remind us how ropey the original series was, comes this eight-disc boxset of the first, black-and-white season of the show which gave us the immortal catchphrase ?h, the pain, the pain?
Irwin Allen became known as the Master of Disaster in the 1970s as he left behind his TV heritage (VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, THE TIME TUNNEL, LAND OF THE GIANTS and LOST IN SPACE) to create blockbusters like THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, THE TOWERING INFERNO and?r?WHEN TIME RAN OUT. Now, thanks to the demands of the digital age, we can relive his past misdemeanours and if you?e old enough to harbour fond memories of the exploits of the Robinson family, reluctant stowaway Dr Zachary Smith and their thrashing-armed robot, prepare to have them shattered forever in this increasingly-tedious collection of clumsy, ham-fisted and simplistic science-fiction adventures.
LOST IN SPACE, like most Allen TV productions, is about spectacle. Characters don? matter and neither, frankly, does story. These shows were made long before the more sophisticated arc-obsessed shows we?e familiar with today (Good or bad? Discuss.) Allen liked to create a bunch of stereotypes – square-jawed good guys, weak, fainting women who spent much of their time cleaning and cooking, irritating kids and comic relief buffoons. All boxes are ticked in LOST IN SPACE. It starts promisingly enough in the first handful of episodes. The Jupiter 2 blasts off from Earth with the Robinson family on board, out to start up a new life on a distant planet in Alpha Centauri. Industrial spy Zachary Smith finds himself trapped aboard and his presence causes the ship to veer off course and the Jupiter 2 becomes, quite literallyUdrum roll)?OST IN SPACE! After a few larks in space the ship crashlands on a barren planet – and ennui quickly sets in.
The LOST IN SPACE dynamic changes rapidly. Whilst never anything more than a routine, we-made-this-up-as-we-went-along romp with zero science and very little believability, the first few episodes were at least spectacular and exciting. In episode 2 ?he Derelict?the crew are brought aboard an abandoned spaceship full of electric balloons (in a story segment adapted in the flop feature movie a few years back) and some of their escapades on the planet are quite interesting – giant cylops creatures appear in ?here Were Giants in the Earth?and a wildly varying temperature on the planet forces the crew to flee to the other side of the planet in the fondly-remembered Chariot in ?he Hungry Sea? But soon it all goes wrong. The Robinsons, Smith and the Robot spent most of their time in the environs of the downed ship and they are plagued by all manner of unlikely extra-terrestrial perils which range from the quite chilling (Michael Rennie in the two-parter ?he Keeper? to the ludicrous (the self-explanatory ?ttack of the Monster Plants?. The promotion of Smith from secondary character to scene-hogging comedy fool robs the series of almost all of its dramatic potential and whilst young Bill Mumy and the robot are effective foils for his effete posturing and comedy pratfalls, the rest of the cast start to look bored as they slip into the background and the stories start to centre around Smith and his lunatic exploits.
LOST IN SPACE quickly becomes wearing and at 29 episodes it? a real slog to keep your interest levels up. Believe it or not, I haven? actually watched every episode in this box set. I wonder if anyone will?
THE DISCS: Sparklingly crisp black-and-white transfers with decent sound. Not much in the way of extras save the unaired pilot episode ?o Place To Hide?which, Smith-less, is strangely flat and dull. Most of the FX footage for this pilot turns up across the first five series episodes. Also included is a brief Presentation featurette designed to flog the show to the CBS Network. I know there are 30 episodes of television here but really, Fox, ?0 RRP for this collection?