STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by ZapBrannigan, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  2. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  3. Hambone

    Hambone Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm still hoping for a Lost In Space/Gilligan's Island crossover.
     
  4. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  5. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  6. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  7. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  8. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  10. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  12. Grant

    Grant Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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!!
     
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  14. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Those special effects scenes with the Jupiter 2 miniature hitting mountaintops before a crash landing were wonderful, with the classic Lydecker flying rig.
     
  15. Grant

    Grant Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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."
     
  16. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Commodore Commodore

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    The closest you'll get is Far Out Space Nuts.

    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAl71p_A2wM[/yt]
     
  17. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Part of LIS' problem is they wrote themselves into a box. By stranding the ship planet bound everything had to come to them. In a way it was a sci-fi version of Gilligan's Island. If they had definitely decided upon staying grounded for only the first season and getting back into space for the second (they did for the third season) then you open up story possibilities.

    The thing is, too, is intent. GR and crew had a clear idea of what they wanted with Star Trek, and it was the more challenging idea: do fantastic stories straight and with an adult sensibility and a sense of credibility. This meant they had definite "do's" and "don'ts" to guide them.

    LIS, on the other hand, got evermore silly as it just basically made it up as they went along. It effectively became a live-action cartoon.

    If someone were to try rebooting LIS and better explore its potential and get back to the early sensibility then I think it would work best as a miniseries. That way you could plot out exactly what you wanted to do and not get bogged down in trying to pull something out of your ass just to have something to broadcast.

    I love the episodic series of old, but the times have changed and I can see it being very challenging to do open ended episodic series now. I'm thinking science fiction might now be better served if it could be produced like shows done on HBO and the like: 10-13 episodes where you can plan out what you need to accomplish. This might also give you more resources (money) and definitely more time to put it all together.

    I think the specialty channels are where to go now because people (particularly guys) are abandoning commercial network television in droves.

    I'm thinking that if they can do fantasy like Game Of Thrones and period pieces like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire as well as other period miniseries then someone can do science fiction. It's just a matter of someone being interested enough to want to do it because I think there is an audience for it. I suspect space adventure isn't going to happen again on network television---it just doesn't fit the target audiences there anymore given it's also skewing evermore toward women.

    Beyond fans of SF literature no one was screaming for a show like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits or Star Trek. The creators of those respective shows each took a chance believing there was an audience for such materiel. I think the same is true today. The accepted "wisdom" presently is that SF on television, and particularly space adventure, is dead, but I think since everyone just believes it no one is really trying. But that doesn't mean there isn't an audience out there waiting for it.

    If someone introduced a space adventure concept made of the likes of TOS or Babylon 5 or Stargate I'd be on it in a heartbeat. If it's good then I'd also be buying the subsequent DVD or Blu-Ray box sets and tie-in merchandise as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  18. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's funny to read people saying they'd have probably found Star Trek boring as a young child because it was so serious, or whatever. I've been a fan since I was 4 (or younger, this is as far back as my memory goes) and I never found the original series anything less than fun and exciting. And I still have great love for all of the Irwin Allen shows.

    Actually, it took off in the second season premiere, stayed up for a few episodes before crashing down on a planet and meeting Wally Cox and his Chicken Monster.
     
  19. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    All you have to do is look at the other 3 Irwin Allen sf series and you can make a good guess. The plots would have become repetitive and silly with weird silver skinned aliens and lots of "duplicates" of the regular cast to save money. It never would have retained the feel of the first episodes and probably not lasted as long as it did.
     
  20. Grant

    Grant Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So you are saying that without the Dr Smith/Will dynamic it would have failed earlier?

    that's sad.