Star Trek/Lost In Space: Any Difference?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Hyfen_Underskor, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. Hyfen_Underskor

    Hyfen_Underskor Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I enjoy both these shows. They play side by side on the MeTV Network. I've noticed though, that beside maybe the whole quality of special effects thing, I don't see a whole lot of differences in the 2 shows.

    They both utilized the earthly similarities on alien planets. Just like Lost In Space, the Star Trek producers found excuses for the crew to end up in Nazi Germany, Ancient Rome, confronting a Greek God, a shoot out at the OK Corral, etc*.

    Which one wins out? That's a tough one. I got to say though, at least Lost In Space had Dr. Zachary Smith.

    * Fortunately, and I think this is mainly due to the timing of the original series, there was no exorcism scene like there was in The Next Generation series.
     
  2. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, one had topical shows, a steller cast, great guest stars, REAL Sci-Fi writers and no kid actors as regulars.
     
  3. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    From my 15 yr old perspective back in the 1960s, having gotten into visual science fiction at 8, Lost in Space had Zorro, Timmy's Mom, Danny Thomas' daughter, that creepy kid from all those Twilight Zone episodes, a hot looking Scandinavian chick, and the coolest robot since Forbidden Planet (both by Bob Kinoshita). But it started shifting focus to Smith and the Robot as early as the 12th episode, and I quit hoping for anything better out of it. I watched the show for the hardware, which was often the best thing about Irwin Allen's sci-fi shows.

    Star Trek had actors I was generally unfamiliar with, but better stories, and special effects concepts that I didn't know about (bluescreen/optical printing). It took a couple of weeks for me to really get into the show since I didn't like the alien makeups compared to what The Outer Limits did 3 years earlier.
     
  4. Hyfen_Underskor

    Hyfen_Underskor Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Both shows pretty much consisted of character actors who had bit roles in TV shows and movies. Lost In Space did however have Michael Rennie (Klaatu) make a guest appearance.

    Guy Williams had certainly been around, and certainly had equal credentials to have played an Enterprise commander. That's not to say that the chemistry would have been there as it obviously was with William Shatner.

     
  5. Hyfen_Underskor

    Hyfen_Underskor Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Yes, Lost In Space definitely evolved into "The Zachary Smith Comedy Hour", as he originally in the earlier episodes had a darker character as I remember.

    However, even in his later more comedic relief form, he gave the darker side of human kind to observing aliens, allowing them to get a taste of both the good and the bad.
     
  6. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I loved Trek as a kid, but thought Lost In Space was infantile garbage.
     
  7. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    LIS was definitely not Irwin Allen's best work. Star Trek on the other hand was Roddenberry's best.

    If you want compare output, Allen was more prolific.
     
  8. stationzebra

    stationzebra Ensign Red Shirt

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    i read somewhere that the trek team went out of the way to make sure it was not like lost in space. in there view it was kid sci fi and campy.
     
  9. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    Agree.:techman:

    I was a fan of both Lost In Space and the original Star Trek series in reruns weekdays as a boy in the '70s.
     
  10. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    I don't know how Smith and the Robot came into the picture, they weren't in the original pilot reel. Jonathan Harris' constant "Special Guest Star" billing in the main title, for the entire run, must have been orchestrated by a brilliant agent. At the time, the only thing I recognized Harris from was his hotel manager role on The Bill Dana Show.

    Before Lost in Space ever arrived though, there was a Gold Key comic book around for a couple of years called Space Family Robinson. They were not the characters of the tv show, but there was a mom and dad and two kids. After the series appeared, some sort of arrangement was made, as the comic was rebranded as Space Family Robinson: LOST IN SPACE, though it still wasn't about the tv show.
     
  11. Dantheman

    Dantheman Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I remember reading that when Gene Roddenberry was pitching Star Trek to CBS in 1964 or thereabouts, they weren't really interested in the show, they were just listening to him, looking for ideas for Lost in Space.

    How true is this story?
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, that's not true. As Melakon pointed out, several LiS regulars were well-known and established actors even before the show -- Guy Williams had starred in Zorro, June Lockhart in Lassie, and Angela Cartwright in Make Room for Daddy, while Billy Mumy was the most ubiquitous child actor in Hollywood at the time.

    As for Star Trek, William Shatner was a respected stage and screen actor that many at the time saw as potentially the next Olivier, and it was considered a major coup when this little-known producer named Roddenberry secured him as the lead of his weird, experimental outer-space show. He'd even had a previous starring role on television, in a courtroom drama called For the People that ran for half a season in '65. Just before ST, he had a recurring role in the popular Dr. Kildare. Leonard Nimoy hadn't had a starring role, but he was well-known as a character actor by that time, as was DeForest Kelley for his extensive work in Westerns including Gunfight at the OK Corral.



    Smith was added because the producers, on reviewing the pilot, felt the premise lacked conflict and the series would need an antagonist. As for the Robot, apparently Allen just had the idea after the pilot was made and thought it would be a good addition.

    Not exactly. See, by the time Harris was brought in, all the other actors' contract terms, including their credits order, had already been negotiated and settled, so the only place left for him was last billing. But giving him lower billing than a couple of children was considered unacceptable, so the producers added the "Special Guest Star" credit to compensate. It was the beginning of what's now a common practice, treating last billing with a special notation as second only to lead billing in importance. (For example, see Stargate SG-1. When Michael Shanks left the show for a season and then came back a year later, he was given last billing with extras added: "And Michael Shanks as Daniel Jackson." He had to go last since the other actors had been bumped up in the list, but the final place with "And" etc. counted as effectively second billing.)

    It all started with The Swiss Family Robinson, a 19th-century novel about a shipwrecked family (although that was probably inspired by Robinson Crusoe originally). The novel has been the basis for multiple movies and TV series, including a film from Disney in 1960. A couple of years later, Disney began developing a science fiction remix of the concept called Space Family Robinson, and had Gold Key develop a tie-in comic based on the film plans, but then the film fell through. Later, Irwin Allen decided to do his own take on Swiss Family which he also planned to call Space Family Robinson; it's unclear whether he was unaware of the comic or brazenly copying it. Anyway, CBS and Allen had to reach a legal agreement with the comics publishers, the upshot of which was that Allen changed the name of his show to Lost in Space but got to keep the name Robinson for the family, while Gold Key got to add Lost in Space to the title of their comic in order to capitalize on the show.

    But eventually, in 1975, Allen produced a TV series version of The Swiss Family Robinson for ABC. It starred Martin Milner, Willie Aames, Cameron Mitchell, and a 12-year-old Helen Hunt, and it lasted less than a full season. I think I remember watching it at the time, but only very vaguely.


    Well, it's told in The Making of Star Trek, largely from Roddenberry's own POV, which doesn't entirely answer the question of how true it was. But according to the account, they weren't looking for story ideas per se -- that would've been plagiarism -- so much as ideas on things like spaceship design, how to handle the production and logistics of a space-based show, how to cut costs, etc.
     
  13. WisTrekFan

    WisTrekFan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    As a four to seven year old when the two series originally aired, I was aware of Star Trek, but I was more interested in Lost in Space. I think LIS was more accessible to kids because of the Will Robinson and Robot characters.
     
  14. Mister Atoz

    Mister Atoz Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    In Star Trek, the drama usually hinges on some difficult decision that Kirk has to make. In Lost in Space, the drama usually hinges on some stupid, immoral scheme Dr. Smith gets himself into. Or in the case of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the drama hinges on crawling through a tunnel to turn a wrench.

    I don't see how you can put these two shows in the same league. Irwin Allen's props were great, no question, but his story department sucked zienite gas!

    Let's face it, both shows were created for two reasons: 1) NASA's space program and 2) color television. At the time, the Cold War had manifested as a space race between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. of A., but LIS and ST were just a sideshow. But with time, the situation has reversed. In the past 30 years, how many fan conventions have been held to celebrate the Apollo program vs Star Trek conventions? One vs 500? But I digress.

    Trek did so many things LIS did not. It explored the nature of consciousness. It probed dystopic societies, language euphemisms, the role of women in a military setting, and it even explored religious, political, and social issues with its use of earth-like planets. Trek explored suicide, sacrifice, immortality, mental illness, and those old Cold War favorites, brainwashing and mind control.

    Reference services available at the desk,

    ~ Mr Atoz
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually the first season of LiS was in black & white -- and it's generally considered to be better-looking than the more garish color seasons.

    But yeah, there's just no comparison. The two shows were made for entirely different audiences. LiS was continuing the longstanding trend of aiming SFTV series with permanent casts at young viewers. Star Trek was the first non-anthology SF series to be designed as an adult-oriented drama. The touchstones that Roddenberry used in telling writers how to approach the show were the classy adult dramas of the era like Wagon Train, Naked City, and Gunsmoke. Allen was going for kid-friendly action-adventure and the lowest common denominator; Roddenberry was trying to elevate SFTV to a new level of sophistication and quality, to show that it could be approached with the same maturity and naturalism as any other genre.
     
  16. Hyfen_Underskor

    Hyfen_Underskor Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    The comparison I made consisted more of the irony of some similarities in spite of the intended, and inevitable differences.

    The problem in my opinion is that ST focused far too much on religious and dystopic themes. That far too common scenario of saving a race bound by religious superstition, where the inhabitants mistook a non-deity for a god. I'm not a huge sci-fi buff, but it seems to me that some of the most interesting sci-fi stories don't end up on TV or the movies.

    I think a good reason for this is that stories written on paper/put into print do not have the restrictions that a motion picture/TV studio has (money budget, special effects), so these earthly themes may very well be made more out of convenience than actual imagination. While saving an alien race from Nazism is certainly a worthwhile cause, I wouldn't call it unique.
     
  17. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't remember TOS 'saving a race bound by superstition'. On the contrary, in "Bread and Circuses"...they get all glowey and warm when they find out that the aliens have been talking about Christ the whole time.

    In The Paradise Syndrome, they don't seem to make any effort to correct the aliens.

    Ahhh..I just remembered Return of the Archons. That one is more sci-fi and seems to be a Communism analogy.

    There is The Apple. Which I admit is a flat-out blasting away of the Prime Directive.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not really. After all, the Triangulan natives didn't build Vaal. Presumably some outside civilization built it and imposed its rule over them. In Kirk's view, he was serving the Prime Directive by eliminating alien interference and restoring the Triangulans' right of self-determination.
     
  19. The Squire of Gothos

    The Squire of Gothos Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Lost in Space had the only character the other crew had a legitimate reason for spacing :p
     
  20. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "Kirk's view", a humancentric application of values and morals to an alien race is EXACTLY why the PD exists.

    Further more, I would have loved to have seen a Star Trek ep where our heroes encounter a completly peaceful, loving nice race....more than willing to help our heroes....who keep slaves. And rather than get mad when our guys start stammering away, they just smile and nod and say, "Well, despite our differences, we're more than willing to extend our hand to you" (We kind of see this in that ENT PD ep, but they focused on that DNA dead-end nonsense)

    Then we get to watch the crew argue and say how they should refuse aid ala VOY's "Counterpoint".