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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > Star Trek - Original Series

Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old September 3 2013, 10:37 AM   #1
ZapBrannigan
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STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

Few sci-fi shows have been blasted with such vitriol as LOST IN SPACE, mostly in the 1970s by writers who loved STAR TREK. You even hear it to this day: when I showed my boss the Moebius Jupiter 2 kit online, he snorted, "LOST IN SPACE, a giant leap backward!"

I admit, there were times when I "hated" Dr. Smith and some of the sillier plots, but as an adult rediscovering LIS, I've been able to take the comedic side of LIS in the spirit it was intended.

I wonder if STAR TREK, with its (relatively) great dignity and seriousness, is what set off LIS's more heated detractors. Like, after you've seen Kirk and Spock playing it straight, it's harder to take Smith and his wise-cracking Robot. But if that expectation of serious sci-fi on television had not been created, maybe LIS would have been taken on its own terms.
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Old September 3 2013, 11:49 AM   #2
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

I loved Lost In Space as a child. I think the child stars made it more relatable then.

I've watched it more recently and now wonder why John and Mareen didn't space Dr Smith ASAP instead of leaving him in charge of their only son. As a parent I wonder what the hell they were thinking.

Aside from this silliness I still like other aspects of Lost In Space. The chariot, the robot, the rocket pack.
Thinking about all the people they met on those crummy planets they landed on, Lost in Space was a bit like Gilligan's Island. I took the show more seriously when they were spacebound.
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Old September 3 2013, 12:42 PM   #3
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

I'm still hoping for a Lost In Space/Gilligan's Island crossover.
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Old September 3 2013, 02:10 PM   #4
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

People who bitch that hard about Lost in Space are taking it all too seriously. LiS was a good counterpoint to Star Trek's serious take on the genre. And in the 70's every SF TV series was compared unfavorably to Star Trek. Until Star Wars changed the game, Trek had to be every SF TV producer's millstone.
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Old September 3 2013, 02:11 PM   #5
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

Long before Star Wars vs. Star Trek there was Star Trek vs. Lost In Space and just about everyone else.

LIS was a poster child for what most people perceived as science fiction on television and in film---nothing to be taken seriously. Even the best efforts in film and shows like The Outer Limits really couldn't dislodge that overall notion. Basically if it's weird shit than it's just sci-fi nonsense.

Star Trek was the first major salvo in science fiction respectability. It wasn't just a one off episode in an anthology series or a one off feature film. It was a continuing series with recurring characters that even while making occasional missteps generally played it straight. And Star Trek was distinctly adult oriented, something that confused a lot of people initially and put off others.

Basically Star Trek along with The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone before it (as well as a handful of films) were finally the kind of shows fans of science fiction literature were longing for. No matter how you define Star Trek's initial commercial success it influenced science fiction in film and television afterward and unto today. People got the message that you can do science fiction in an adult oriented way and people will go for it.

Other projects had done this to an extent, but none of them resonated the way Star Trek did. A lot of other sci-fi could still be entertaining on a more basic level and still have interesting visual aspects, but they weren't any deeper than that. Star Trek tried to go for more and also offered a generally consistent exercise in world building. The stories suggested so much more than just the adventure of the week.


Basically Star Wars is LIS' sensibility writ large. That and it offers more complex world building than LIS did.
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Old September 3 2013, 02:19 PM   #6
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

I never liked Lost in Space at all. Not even as a child in 1970. But, my dad loved it, thankfully he loved Star Trek as well, so I would watch Lost in Space with him every Sunday morning back then. I remember liking a very few episodes but the majority of it left me bored.
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Old September 3 2013, 02:39 PM   #7
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

I watched LIS when I was kid and at the time I thought it was fine. When I discovered TOS it was like a light had been turned on.

I have first season LIS on DVD. It comes off better in b&w and the first season isn't so goofy. It can still be enjoyed on its own terms, but it's nothing like Star Trek. Apparently Dorothy Fontana really disliked LIS.

All the Irwin Allen sci-fis are like that: decent concepts and reasonable beginnings that eventually devolve into goofiness.

Star Trek wasn'r wholly immune to the lighter touch. If you watch TOS' second season you can see an overall lighter touch particularly with episodes like "The Trouble With Tribbles," "A Piece Of The Action" and "I, Mudd." But third season, despite being panned, makes an effort to get away from that.
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Old September 3 2013, 06:02 PM   #8
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

I hate to admit it, but as a kid in the 60s I have a feeling I'd probably love LIS a lot more than Trek. Yeah the writing on LIS was obviously insipid, but then so were most of the shows I watched in the 80s (Superfriends, He-Man, Voltron, Knight Rider, etc). Plus the worlds were always bright and colorful, and it had one of the coolest and most loveable robots ever.

Star Trek might have seemed a little too... dull and serious for my sensibilities at the time, I think.
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Old September 3 2013, 06:20 PM   #9
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

Lost in Space debuted when I was 14. I liked the hardware of the ship, the Robot, the laser guns, the Chariot, and the retro-style cliffhanger endings. And John(ny) Williams' background scores.

But by the time of the 11th episode ("Wish Upon a Star"), I realized the focus was shifting to the nincompoopiness of Dr. Zachary Smith and quickly got disgusted with it.

There was a TV Guide article about the series during its run, and I did think it was sort of cool that Billy Mumy (3 years younger than me) had made his own decision to be in it (rather than his parents), because he liked science fiction.

Bill was known as the creepiest kid on television, thanks to his appearances on The Twilight Zone.
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Old September 3 2013, 06:27 PM   #10
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post

I wonder if STAR TREK, with its (relatively) great dignity and seriousness, is what set off LIS's more heated detractors. Like, after you've seen Kirk and Spock playing it straight, it's harder to take Smith and his wise-cracking Robot. But if that expectation of serious sci-fi on television had not been created, maybe LIS would have been taken on its own terms.
I do not think it is a comparison to TOS which shaped the opinion of LIS. Think back to sci-fi TV from 1965-1968 (LIS' network run / high visibility)--in that time, not only did we see TOS, but The Invaders and Irwin Allen's third sci-fi series, The Time Tunnel. TI & TTT were played straight, often with grim situations one would expect from serious sci-fi.

Although both were not as successful as LIS, they appealed to fantasy fans (at least), and presented the polar opposite of everything which came to shine a negative light on the Robinson clan.

LIS was its own worst enemy, and whether the shadow of TOS existed or not, Irwin Allen's well known "do more" directive to Harris (i.e. turn up the Dr. Smith behavior), playing up the popularity of Will & the Robot would have happened anyway, thus there's nothing to prevent the post 1960s criticism.
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Old September 3 2013, 06:47 PM   #11
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

davejames wrote: View Post
I hate to admit it, but as a kid in the 60s I have a feeling I'd probably love LIS a lot more than Trek....

Star Trek might have seemed a little too... dull and serious for my sensibilities at the time, I think.
Well, that's just it. LiS was made for children, like pretty much all SFTV at the time except for The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. There was plenty of adult science fiction in prose, and there'd been a few smart, sophisticated SF movies like The Day The Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet and It Came From Outer Space, but for the most part, science fiction onscreen was stereotyped and stigmatized as kid stuff. Star Trek was exceptional because it was the first non-anthology SFTV series that was made for adult audiences, that was approached with the same maturity and naturalism as the adult Westerns or cop shows or courtroom dramas of the time. The series bible cited classy, sophisticated dramas like Gunsmoke and Naked City as exemplars for the level of writing he wanted it to have.

There's nothing wrong with a show being aimed at children, of course. The problem is that at the time, it was assumed that science fiction could never be anything else. And Star Trek was the show that defied that stereotype and pioneered the maturation of SFTV. Although we still got a lot of goofy kid stuff for decades thereafter.
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Old September 3 2013, 06:52 PM   #12
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

Even as an under 10 year old I hated LIS. I agree with the B&W episodes being alot more atmospheric and i also love the robot and chariot.

And as a few have said--it's a very workable, decent concept that just got stupider and stupider as Dr Smith took over the show.

It runs on 'Me-TV' in my area and every time I happen to pass it while channel surfing---I see the kid and Dr Smith.

So either I am seeing a huge un-representative coincidence of time spent on those two or they just drove that dynamic into the ground!!
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Old September 3 2013, 06:55 PM   #13
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

No matter my opinion and even after all these years I still think the Jupiter II is very cool. It seems such a pity they designed a cool ship and then after the pilot (worked into the first few episodes) we never saw it fly again until the third season, which by then the show was in colour and so ridiculous it was practically unwatchable.
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Old September 3 2013, 07:07 PM   #14
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

Those special effects scenes with the Jupiter 2 miniature hitting mountaintops before a crash landing were wonderful, with the classic Lydecker flying rig.
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Old September 3 2013, 07:17 PM   #15
Grant
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Re: STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
No matter my opinion and even after all these years I still think the Jupiter II is very cool. It seems such a pity they designed a cool ship and then after the pilot (worked into the first few episodes) we never saw it fly again until the third season, which by then the show was in colour and so ridiculous it was practically unwatchable.
Yes, I also have a soft spot for the Jupiter II.

I wonder if--as they must have thought--Dr Smith was actually helping the show?

What if he had been gotten rid of---could the level of seriousness been brought to a level between the mostly serious of TOS and the 'completely ridiculous' that it devolved into?

Could the show have had youth appeal and gotten adult or serious sci-fi fans to say...

"That was a bit of sci-fi fun." as opposed to

"what a bunch of kiddie-crap."
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