An aptly named campy science fiction television series about a family aboard a spaceship that gets...well, lost in space. Also featured a badass robot.
The show was originally concieved by Irwin Allen, who would later be known as "The Master of Disaster" for his run of successful (and not so successful) disaster flicks from the '70s. These films included The Poseidon Adventure, about a cruise ship that gets capsized, which was critically acclaimed and nominated for 9 Academy Awards (not to be confused with the remake starring Kurt Russel and the bad guy from the Hulk, which sucked balls); The Towering Inferno, about a high-rise that gets engulfed in flames, starring Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, who proceeded to beat the shit out of the flame with their bare hands and double-team the flame's mom, giving each other high-fives the whole time (at least that's how we remember it); and The Swarm, about African bees terrorizing Texas, starring Michael Caine, and considered to be one of Caine's worst films (which is pretty sad, considering the man also starred in Jaws 4: The Revenge). Though we like to think that Allen actually got his nickname for creating this show.
Now, it's the '60s, and Allen hadn't yet gotten his hands on ruining film. Like a serial killer who starts by killing small animals, Irwin Allen started his producing career in television.
Irwin Allen's TV Career
The atrocities attributed to Allen include: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants. Then Allen came up with an idea even more stupid than all of them, which was, according to Allen himself, supposed to be "The Swiss Family Robinson...only in space." Which made sense, seeing as how most science fiction in the '50s and '60s were based on the premise of "it's (blank)...only in space", such as the classic film Forbidden Planet, which was based on the Shakespeare play The Tempest...only in space; The Jetsons, which was based on The Flintstones...only in space; and Rocket Robin Hood, which was just plain stupid. In fact, the original title for Lost in Space was going to be Space Family Robinson, but for the obvious reason that the name was fucking retarded, it was later changed.
The original pilot was set in the distant year of 1997, and concerned a family called the Robinsons (what? No clever revamped space name, like, Space Robinsons? Or Jetrobinsons? Or Spacerobinsons? Or...something?) who were sent on a desperate mission to go to Alpha Centuri on their ship Gemini 12 to try and populate it, since Earth is overcrowded, or some shit. Anyway, they eventually get lost in space. Pretty self-explanatory. The pilot, and the whole first season in fact, was filmed in black-and-white, before going to full color in the second and third season. However, color didn't help the quality of the show, since, like putting a top hat and matching bow-tie on a piece of shit, in the end, it was still a piece of shit.
Seasons 2 and 3
After CBS commissioned the series, Irwin added a robot and the character of Dr. Smith (played exuberantly creepy by actor Jonathon Harris) to the show's new pilot, as well as changing the ship's name from Gemini 12 to Jupiter 2 for some reason. And, in this version, Dr. Smith is the reason that the ship goes off course, since he re-programs the robot to kill the family and destroy the ship. Also, before Dr. Smith became the boy-hungry pedophile that we all know and love, he began the show as actually a very cold, smart, and calculating adversary.
Bad touch! Bad touch!
In fact, Irwin Allen originally wanted to kill off Dr. Smith after a few episodes. However, Allen remembered that he hated his audience (evidenced by Beyond the Poseidon Adventure) and all that was good and decent in the world (also evidenced by Beyond the Poseidon Adventure), so he let Dr. Smith survive all three of the show's seasons, afterwards going home to eat babies and use puppy dogs as shot-puts.
Other than that, the shows premise was exactly the same. They were still called the Robinsons (ugh), and they were still a family that was lost in space on some vague mission to Alpha Centuri in the future (i.e. 1997). Only now the show had a badass robot named B-9 and a creepy old man who made Herbert from Family Guy look subdued and nuanced.
The Robinsons family themselves were a boring archetypal '50s-esque family, with a scientist father named John and a scientist mother named Maureen, although, according to wikipedia: "her role in the series [was] to prepare meals, tend the garden...while adding a voice of compassion. Her status as a doctor is mentioned only in the first episode." Awesome. They also had two teenage daughters, Judy and Penny, and an annoying whiz kid named Will who was probably scarred for life being alone with Dr. Smith in almost EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE. Not to mention the fact that John's hot, blonde teenage daughter Judy was always hanging around with the hotshot military pilot, Don West in the Space Pod to go "exploring" together. We all know what West was "exploring" in that pod. (Hint: boobies). The dad was either very naive, or very neglectful. Or sauced all the time. All three would make sense, really.
At the time, Lost in Space was compared to another sci-fi show from the swinging '60s, Star Trek [see topic on Star Trek]. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek (like we needed to tell you guys) even acknowledged these comparisons at one point, stating that he was a philosopher while Irwin Allen was a story-teller, and that "[Lost in Space] accomplishes what it sets out to do. Star Trek is not the same thing." Translated: "Lost in Space sucks, but at least it knows it sucks. But my show doesn't suck, so it's not like Lost in Space". Basically, it was like comparing The Dark Knight to Ghost Rider because they're both comic-book movies. In fact, CBS had a chance to pick up Star Trek, instead opting for Lost in Space. Now, we'd like to make a crack about how CBS bet on the wrong horse, or something, but to be honest, Lost in Space had twice the ratings Star Trek ever had in its initial run. Which explains why we're still bombarded with reality shows and shit like Two and a Half Men, when shows like Pushing Daisies and Arrested Development sink like stones.
To show how good of a story-teller Irwin Allen really was, often while arguing with writers over script changes, he was quoted as regularly saying (more likely yelling), "Don't get logical with me!" Which...explains a lot, actually. Like the episode where the Jupiter 2 ship gets taken over by evil vegetables ("The Great Vegetable Rebellion"), for instance. Or how the Robinsons never kill Dr. Smith whenever they get the fucking chance.
Not getting logical
Seriously, Dr. Smith was like Gilligan from Gilligan's Island, insomuch that he always managed to find a way fuck up any chance the Robinsons would have to getting back home or to Alpha Centuri. The only difference, is that Gilligan was at least likable, while Dr. Smith was cowardly, foppish, and creepy. Also did we mention he was a pedophile? I don't know if we mentioned that yet or not. So why not kill him? Or at least strand him? It's not like he was useful or anything, seeing as he CAUSES MOST OF THEIR PROBLEMS. That's like keeping a dead-beat roommate around who always eats all the food, doesn't look for a job, never pays the rent, and everytime you ask him to do a chore he always makes some excuse not to do it. Except the roommate also touches little boys.
In 1998 (a year after the original Robinsons supposedly got lost in space for those keeping track), New Line Cinema greenlit a big-budget Lost in Space movie, inexplicately starring Gary Oldman. As Dr. Smith no less. What, did the producers have his family hostage at gun-point or something? That is the only logical explanation.
Now, there's not much to say about the movie. It's pretty much the same as the show, only more EXXXTREME. I mean, seriously, look at the new robot design. It's like the '90s were trying to make everything extreme somehow.
See what we mean?
It also starred William Hurt as John Robinson and Matt LeBlanc as Don West. Yes, that Matt LeBlanc. From Friends [see our topic on Friends imdb forums]. Trying to play a badass. It goes over about as well as you'd think.
It also had an annoying yellow monkey...thing named Blarp, that made Jar Jar Binks look badass. Which is a feat some thought impossible. How wrong they were. So terribly wrong. The filmmakers were trying to make us think it was the cutest thing ever, which could've worked, if the designers didn't make it look like a Pokemon that contracted AIDS.
There were also cameos from most of the principle cast from the original series, such as June Lockhart, who played the mother on the original show, playing a hologram of Will Robinson's Principle for the film. However, two cast members didn't take the cameos, namely Jonathan Harris, since he was only willing to play Dr. Smith himself, and Bill Mumy, because of, according to wikipedia, "schedueling conflicts". Which sounds like bullshit, since, well...he's Bill Mumy.
In the end, the film made decent money (even opening up at #1, and being the film that dethroned Titanic's months-long reign at the top). However, the reviews were bad (surprise, surprise), and while the film made a lot of money, it didn't make enough to warrant a sequel. Which, if it means no more Blarp, we're happy. Also, it seemed to single-handedly ruin Matt LeBlanc's movie career, which makes the existance of this movie almost worth it. Almost.
In 2003, WB ordered a pilot for a new Lost in Space directed by John Woo [!]. Luckily, it never got off the ground. I mean, look at that robot in back. LAAAAME!!!! I mean, the one from the movie was bit EXXXTREME for our tastes, but it at least looked cool. This one looks like C-3PO's gayer cousin. And what's with the dad? It looks like he smelt a fart, and is going to kick whosever ass dealt it.
So, with the new series failing to materialize, what's next for Lost in Space? So far, there doesn't seem to be anything coming up. Which is a good thing. It'd be like beating a dead horse at this point, especially considering the horse was dead out of the gate.
Well, we're going to close with one of Dr. Smith's main catchphrase, which was "Oh...the pain...the pain..." Which we here at Cracked can empethize with after seeing Lost in Space. Oh, the pain, indeed.