STAR TREK the enemy of LOST IN SPACE?

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

  1. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Agree.:vulcan:


    Fortunately, the Jupiter II did fly in the early episodes of the second season beginning with the first episode "Blast Off Into Space". However, it was grounded after four space bound episodes for the remaining second season twenty-six episodes.:sigh:
     
  2. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Two, actually. Fugitives in Space and Space Beauty. They were still paid for them, so at that stage of the game, it was no punishment.
     
  3. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    When I was six or seven I really liked Lost In Space. I even had a couple of pullover shirts that I thought of as my "Will Robinson shirts". I also had two sisters who could play Judy and Penny.
     
  4. YJAGG

    YJAGG Commander Red Shirt

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    LIS was at first more serious - like the Avengers in the UK, when they got color they got campy - the actor who played Dr. Smith said he knew the only way to keep working on that show was to become comedic is he start doing his over the top delivery and viola 'nuff said.

    I think the two counterpointed each other nicely - considering that Voyage to the Bottom of the sea and Land of the Giants were more serious it showed that Irwin Allen could be a more serious show. I still think NBC thought they were getting something Voyage, an action adventure show in space
     
  5. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I looked up Jonathon Harris wikepedia page after looking through this thread.
    Its stated there that Mark Goddard wasn't as upset by Harris' fame until Guy Williams started stealing his lines because all the focus was on the Robot, Will and Smith.

    It makes me feel more sympathy for Shatner though if he was indeed line counting as it looks like sometimes you had to fight for your role in the television business.

    Goddard mentions episodes turning ridiculous like when Smith and the Robot cooked a souffle. I can't remember that episode specifically but in my minds eyes I can picture the robot in a big chef's hat. LOL.

    When the series was on that sort of thing didn't bother me. It doesn't really bother me now but when I remember Lost In Space I tend to think fondly of its cool science-fiction, heroic adventure stories and allegorial elements.
     
  6. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Commodore Commodore

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    What was it about the switch to color and diminished seriousness/increased silliness? You can sense it in both terribly serious shows (The Fugitive) and terribly non-serious shows (even Gilligan's Island, somehow).

    I don't think it's purely the psychological effect of color; the writing seems to change a little. (And I did find the finale of The Fugitive just as edgy as the black-and-white episodes, while most of the other color episodes seemed flaccid.)
     
  7. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's not the transition to color. The shows you mention were already in progress. The switch to color dovetailed with other changes—most likely brought on by network execs, rather than the artists creating the shows. Someone somewhere began to overanalyze already successful shows, deciding that they needed something extra. Third season LIS campiness was a deliberate counterpoint to BATMAN, for example.
     
  8. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    True. 1966 just happened to be the year that the networks went to an all-color format in prime time, and apparently comedies were doing very well around that time.

    We're lucky Star Trek wasn't shoe-horned into a comedy mindset, maybe with Roger C. Carmel or Stanley Adams aboard as the resident trouble maker. But if that had happened, I'll bet Shatner would have jumped in with both feet and been very funny himself.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It was in the second season that LiS went to color and became campy. The third season actually got a bit more serious for a while, and served the ensemble better for a while, though the second-season excesses soon reasserted themselves.

    But you're right, there's no causal correlation between color and camp. Shows just happened to be moving to full color at that time, and that was when Batman took the world by storm -- although the sheer pop-art colorfulness of Batman was itself part of the reason for its impact, so there is a correlation of sorts there. But they were parallel trends, maybe correlated in reflecting larger cultural/artistic patterns, rather than color directly causing campiness.

    Case in point: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. went to color in its second season, but didn't descend into outright camp until its third. And Doctor Who arguably got a bit more serious when it went to color (or colour, I should say), since the Third Doctor was a less comical sort than his predecessor.

    Did Gilligan's Island get sillier in color? It did get progressively more imaginative and fanciful over time, but I don't think you can draw a sharp dividing line between the B&W first season and the color second season. Maybe adding color inspired them to tell stories that were more visually interesting, like more elaborate dream-sequence episodes and more SF/fantasy elements, but there was some of that present in the first season.

    I think a lot of TV shows back then got sillier or shallower over time due to network pressure to cater to the lowest common denominator, and if those shows happened to overlap the transition from B&W to color, then it might appear that the color episodes were sillier/shallower; but you might've seen the same dumbing down if they'd been in color or B&W all along. Bewitched, for instance, started out as a fairly smart, subversive allegory about gender and class roles and discrimination, and its creator initially wanted to limit the use of magic and focus more on character interactions and underlying themes; but after the first season, when he'd left the show, the more serious underpinnings were lost and it just became about the magical gimmick of the week. It's true that the first season was also in B&W and later seasons in color, but that's incidental to the reasons for the change.
     
  10. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's possible the network felt a color show should just naturally be a lot more "bright and fun" than a black-and-white one, and felt viewers would expect something a bit more lively and not so heavy and serious, and passed that on to the show producers.

    That too.
     
  11. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    We know that Lost in Space and Star Trek both took some inspiration from Forbidden Planet. LIS took the idea of a flying saucer that lands on planets, and making it a ship for humans instead of aliens. LIS also made their own version of Robbie the Robot, going so far as to hire Robbie's designer, Bob Kinoshita. Star Trek then borrowed practically everything else that Forbidden Planet had to offer.

    But did either TV show ever copy the other?

    As a child I was struck by the similarity between "The Keeper" and "The Menagerie," both of which were memorable two-part episodes about eerie aliens using mind control to trap humans in a zoo.

    "The Menagerie" aired eleven months after "The Keeper," but today we know "The Cage" was in the works before LIS came along and could not have copied "The Keeper." Also, the only way LIS could have copied ST in this case is if somebody at Fox had inside knowledge of what Desilu was doing, and ran with a vaguely similar concept. That's possible.

    LIS "Invaders from the Fifth Dimension" features aliens with big, distinctively shaped heads who capture humans to use as a resource, and it was filmed on a blacked-out set. ST "The Empath" aired over three years later, and frankly there might be something to this one:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    "The Empath" actually used freezing tubes from the Jupiter 2, slightly re-dressed. LIS had been canceled and some of its bits and pieces were on the market by then:

    [​IMG]

    More possible influences:

    ST "What are Little Girls Made Of?" aired in October 1966. LIS "Space Destructors" aired in October 1967. Both featured android-making machinery that starts with a slab of white bread dough and turns it into a duplicate of a main character. Hmm.

    ST "Mirror, Mirror" aired October 6, 1967. LIS "The Anti-Matter Man" aired December 27, 1967. The dates are a little close for ST to be an influence on LIS, but it seems possible.
     
  12. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Lost in Space was directly competing against Batman as I remember, they both started at 7:30 Eastern, 6:30 Central. I think both were on Wednesday nights.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Doubtful. Laypeople tend to assume that similarities between stories are unlikely to occur unless there's a direct influence, but the truth is exactly the opposite. Different writers independently come up with similar ideas all the time. It's a routine, even unavoidable occurrence. That's one of the reasons it's so hard for a freelancer to sell a story or script -- because there's a very good chance that any idea you have is going to be similar to one they've already bought, making yours redundant. Which means that writers have a very strong incentive not to copy each other.

    So contrary to what laypeople tend to think, if you see two contemporary stories that resemble each other, it's very likely that their respective creators were totally unaware of the similarity. If they had known about it, they would've changed things to avoid it.

    Besides, part of the reason Roddenberry created ST was to get away from the approach to TV science fiction exemplified by LiS. That show was the very thing he was trying to avoid, to provide a contrast to. It's the last show he or his staff would've deliberately emulated.
     
  14. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A lot of what you said makes sense, but I still think shows can influence each other when fresh ideas are getting scarce. Some of the intersection points bewteen ST and LIS seem more than coincidental, and neither show was above borrowing from FORBIDDEN PLANET.

    And there's a major exception to your overall rule: when a show is a big hit, a knockoff will come along on a rival network. MR. TERRIFIC (CBS) was a swing at BATMAN (ABC). I DREAM OF JEANNIE (NBC) was a knockoff of BEWITCHED (ABC). MOONLIGHTING (ABC) was an energetic re-imagining of REMINGTON STEELE (NBC). DYNASTY (ABC) was green-lighted after the huge success of DALLAS (CBS). Hollywood doesn't have as much shame as you give them credit for.
     
  15. Green Shirt

    Green Shirt Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    "Laypeople". --


    Don't ya just love being talked down to on a regular basis? :rofl:
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You just explained it. Every creative work draws on earlier influences. So when two roughly contemporary works seem similar in certain ways, it's probably because they're both drawing on the same pre-existing pool of cultural influences, not because they're directly imitating each other. Like I said, writers try very hard to distinguish their work from the direct competition, because that betters their chances of selling it. But they and their competitors are still part of the same culture, still influenced by the same history and tradition, so some parallels are inevitable.

    Consider those photos you posted of the LIS aliens (which I believe were originally made for the final scene of the unaired pilot and then repurposed later in the season) and the Vians in "The Empath." The similarities in shape are clear, but they both strike me as being exaggerations of the contours of the supraorbital ridges and temporal lines of the human skull. The skull is an image that's been part of human culture forever -- it's probably one of the most ancient bits of iconography there is -- so it's natural that many different artists would be influenced by it. So it's not at all unlikely that the LiS and ST makeup creators would've independently designed similar makeups, because they were both drawing on the same source, the human skull.

    As for "The Cage" and "The Keeper," alien-zoo stories existed well before either episode; examples include Robert Silverberg's 1956 story "Collecting Team," the 1957 story "The Cage" (yes!) by A. Bertram Chandler, the 1960 Twilight Zone episode "People Are Alike All Over," and the original Planet of the Apes novel from 1963. Given how long humans have been keeping animals in zoos, the question "what if someone turned the tables?" is an obvious one as soon as you contemplate the idea of aliens more advanced than us. It's also just a slight variation on the standard "heroes captured and imprisoned" trope that drives countless works of fiction. Again, the concept is so elementary and ubiquitous that it doesn't even remotely suggest deliberate imitation.


    Of course I'm well aware of that, but my point is that just because it sometimes happens, that doesn't mean it always does. As I said, accidental similarities between different stories happen all the time. It is a constant, routine part of any writer's experience. I once mailed in a spec script to ST:TNG and a similar episode aired ten days later, before they even would've had a chance to read my script. And that was on my first try. It's that common. It's hard for a writer to come up with an idea that isn't similar to a competing story, because there are only so many ways to put the pieces together.

    So statistically speaking, when you see a similarity between two contemporary stories, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of it being accidental. Yes, sometimes it will be deliberate, but most of the time it won't be. So it's safest to assume the resemblance is coincidental, or due to being independently influenced by the same earlier source, unless there's compelling evidence to suggest otherwise.


    About as much as writers like being unfairly accused of theft on a regular basis. "Layperson" isn't even an insult. I don't see why you'd find it offensive. I'm a layperson compared to people in, say, medicine or engineering or hotel management. I accept that they know more about their own fields than I do.
     
  17. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    I'm not offended at being a layperson in many (most?) areas.
     
  18. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I remember that when the Allen shows got repeated by BBC 2 (for The Time Tunnel) and Channel 4 (everything else) as part of the great '60's nostalgia kick back in the '90's (resulting in weird things like the original Randall and Hopkirk being better and more fondly remembered by people my age thanks to getting fully networked in a decent-for-kids timeslot as opposed to its rather half arsed all round the houses of the ITV regions original run) Lost in Space didn't go down nearly as well as any of the others did with me and my school friends.

    Now, maybe the early episodes being B&W had a factor in that, but that didn't stop Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea doing OK on a Sunday lunchtime. I think it's just simply aged really badly, more than his other shows and certainly more than Trek has (the original series was having its own upteenth rerun on BBC2 about the same time as well and always felt much less squirm enducing even in its worst episodes).

    Oddly enough the big success was one of his less succesful series in Land of the Giants, perfect Sunday lunch viewing, had the advantage of being repeated around the time of the Beeb's big Burrowers adaptations (so little people were "cool") and the effects and giant props stood up surprisingly well by mid-90's standards. That was always the one that people at school seemed to watch and which got the best reaction.
     
  19. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    A few days ago some of the threads considered whether LIS could benfit from a more adult, sophisticated approach.

    Breaking news elsewhere on the BBS: J.J. Abrams is planning on re-imaging WESTWORLD.....

    ........which in itself might not be the best idea. I'm not sure whether it can be improved.

    BUT..........since it's possibly being developed for HBO.....

    .....that network may finally be turning towards sci-fi, and if it's as good as most of their other dramas, this I can get behind.
     
  20. YJAGG

    YJAGG Commander Red Shirt

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    Man could you imagine what trek could of looked like if Roddenberry was able to rent the Jupiter 2, Seaview or the Bat Cave for a week or two.

    The Batcave could of been a great hanger bay in an asteroid the Jupiter 2 coudl of been a crash site to a Federation captain's yacht the Seaview a Klingon bridge the flying sub - a special aquatic shuttle or fighter craft of some kind
     

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