At Long Last UnLost?


Earlier this a.m., courtesy of the MeTV network, this Sci-Fi aficionado found himself savoring some Sixties Era programming, at its finest; namely, Lost In Space; Season 3’s Episode 2, which is titled: Visit to a Hostile Planet.

That decidedly unfriendly planet, in actuality, turns out to be Earth; that unplanned stopover caused by repeated attempts to purge the Jupiter 2, interstellar spaceship’s malfunctioning engines of hazardous, atomic fuel impurities; all of which triggers a beyond the speed of light / hyperdrive generated time warp; which, in turn, sends the Space Family Robinson (plus pilot Major West and pissant Dr. Smith) into a spinning outta control, wild ride.

So, are these seven castaways, in reality, at long last, UnLost? Alas, it’s only upon landing when they, rather abruptly, discover the inconvenient truth that they’ve been hurtled approximately fifty years into Earth’s past.

Well, with the all too predictable exception of the despotic, narcissistic Dr. Zachary Smith, who, on cue, plots to conquer Earth (via the exploitation of space-age technology), the rest of the crew wisely understands the perils of remaining amongst these 1947 Era Michiganders; who do, indeed, deem the Jupiter 2, the very flying saucer that it appears to be and its silvery space-suited occupants to be hostile alien invaders, who (minus Smith) they are not.

So paranoia driven are these armed to the teeth, loaded for bear locals, that with no provocation, at all, they start taking potshots at their “enemies”. Of course, John Robinson, Don West and Robot B9 only escalate the tensions when they’re left little choice but to defend themselves; their space age weapons’ laser beams even starting a short-lived lumberyard fire.

All in all, props to the imaginative nature of this episode’s screenplay writers; namely, Peter Packer and series creator Irwin Allen. They did manage to successfully tap into the 40s and 50s era UFO craze; as well as capture the spirit of Orson Welles’s interpretation of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Kudos, too, to director Sobey Martin for his dramatic flair, keen sensibilities and prolific work (on a multitude of Allen’s soundstages).

The concerted efforts of all the above mentioned LIS personnel, in essence, did briefly rescue Lost In Space, which by the third (and final) season, could’ve been aptly re-titled Lost In Inanity.

LIS’s problems actually began surfacing / snowballing soon after its debut season; starting with whomever Allen had delegated the task of creating frightening, out of this world looks for the extraterrestrial characters. My gawd, I’ve seen far more scarier Halloween masks / costumes than those televised, comical, plastic head coverings. And don’t even get me started on how actor Stanley Adams (portraying character Tybo), got stuffed into that giant carrot costume.

Beyond that, was Allen’s bad decision to let Dr. Smith (actor Jonathan Harris) morph FROM the loathsome evil saboteur / mercenary / villain TO the scared by his own shadow, sniveling, screaming, whining wimp. Also, the storylines dwelt on Smith and Will Robinson (actor Billy Mumy) far too frequently; thereby squandering countless opportunities for character development re the rest of the cast; consequently failing to, more regularly, showcase the talents of the unforgivably underutilized actors Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen and Angela Cartwright. And, snubbed, too, were the countless guest star actors who never got to see their names when the show credits rolled on by, at each episode’s end.

And, so long as we’re on the subject of endings…

The End



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Dumb Donald’s Really Dumb REAL Fire!


For optimal effect, prior to playing back the clip, above, read the set up, below…

From 1973 – 82, long before the Real Donald became a (four-letter) household word, we found the clever (clairvoyant?) Match Game writers submitting Dumb Donald scenarios for emcee Gene Rayburn to recite to the panelists, contestants and all who were playing along in the home and studio audiences… situations such as…

Rayburn: Dumb Donald is really dumb…
Audience: How dumb is he?
Rayburn: He thought the movie, Towering Inferno, was a movie about _____ with heartburn!

Obviously, this scenario (originally televised on 05/11/1980) is based upon Producer Irwin Allen’s 1974 disaster film. Or is there something more prescient in play?

As it turns out, there had actually been a four alarm, high-rise fire in Midtown Manhattan, New York City… one which, to us, happened 2 years in the past AND from the Match Game writers’ point of view, was still 38 years off into their distant future.

The setting of that conflagration was none other than…

Trump Tower… the Real Donald’s profits first / safety last, 58 story skyscraper. Word has it that this ugly monolithic, phallic symbol is devoid of a top to bottom sprinkler system.

Tragically, it was on the 50th floor where tenant Todd Brassner, a 67-year-old art dealer, witnessed his life literally go up in flames. And no yuge surprise, his landlord’s Tweets, on the subject, had been totally devoid of empathy. Nope, nary a deadpanned, phoned in, “thoughts and prayers” offered up to Brassner’s surviving family and friends.

Two disasters… the fictional Towering Inferno Film and painfully real Trump Tower Fire. In a heartbeat, the similarity gets upstaged by our discussion’s solemnity.

One need not gaze into a crystal ball to see how, against such a backdrop, our above Match Game clip’s frivolity has already strayed over into unseemly and anticlimactic territory. So, to playback or not? Use your discretion.


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