Sci-Fi Horrorfest: Lost in Space (1973)

2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: Lost in Space (1973)
Cast:        Jonathan Harris as Dr. Zachary Smith
Michael Bell as Craig Robinson
Vincent Van Patten as Linc Robinson
Sherry Alberoni as Dina Carmichael
Don Messick as Robon

Based on the Lost in Space television series created by Irwin Allen
Written by Fred Freiberger
Produced by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna

Plot: After the Jupiter 2 spacecraft is badly damaged by a meteor shower while traveling from Earth to Saturn, the crew is forced to land on an alien world. There, they befriend the Throgs, a peaceful froglike race under siege from the mechanical race known as the Tyranos.

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Richard’s Review: Just a few years after the demise of the original Lost in Space series, Hanna-Barbera acquired the rights from Irwin Allen to produce a Saturday morning animated version that would be a loose adaptation. The Robinson family was mostly gone and Major West was nowhere to be seen. However, we have Craig Robinson (a mix of John Robinson and Don West) as the pilot of the Jupiter 2 shuttle with his younger brother Link (aka Will Robinson) tagging along on a routine mission to Saturn. They are taking geologist Dina Carmichael (aka Judy Robinson) there for her new assignment while Earth biologist Dr. Zachary Smith (the only character who really didn’t change) seems along for the ride. Robot is present but is now more of a pilot and has been given the name…Robon.

At 45 minutes, this pilot episode seems a lot longer due to a meandering plot written by Fred Freiberger (the man behind the disappointing third season of Star Trek). The story comes across as dull and certainly not engaging enough for fans to want more. It would have made more sense to keep the characters the same but it still could have worked with a better writer. As it is, it’s now just an oddity worth watching once to say you did but repeated viewings seem unlikely.

Karla’s Thoughts: While I really enjoyed the Hanna-Barbera animation style, I thought the story was atrocious. It was boring and seemed much longer than it really was. It also made no sense not to use the original characters. That said, they overused Dr. Smith, having him say every familiar line from the series while serving little purpose in the overall story. Definitely not something I would watch again.

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Trivia:

  • The new Jupiter 2 resembles more of a shuttle and nothing like the original saucer-like craft from the original series.
  • Robon looks very similar to the original Robot but with a smaller head and a more high-pitched robotic voice.
  • This aired on Sept. 8, 1973, as part of the shortened second season of the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, which produced several now forgotten specials, including an animated take on Mad Monster Party?and the Groovy Goolies meeting Daffy Duck and Porky Pig.
  • You’ll recognize many familiar Hanna-Barbara musical snippets, including several used frequently on The Super Friends.

Availability: While never released on home video, it is currently available in excellent quality on YouTube for free.

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