Attack of the Monster Reviews

The Great Vegetable Rebellion

Writer: Peter Packer
Director: Don Richardson
Production number: 1521
Airdate: 2/28/68

By Bruce Fedow
February 21, 2011

STORY SYNOPSIS: The Robinsons must land the Jupiter 2 on a planet populated by ferocious fauna when Dr. Smith takes the Space Pod there and is captured by the villainous Tybo the carrotman.

PART ONE

Academy Award nominee Alexander Courage, who composed several other music soundtracks for Lost in Space as well as Land of the Giants and various incarnations of the Star trek franchise created all-new music for this show, and it works very well, from the opening shots of the Jupiter 2 and the planet they are orbiting in order to (once again) repair their poor ship then looking out the viewport at re-used planet footage from season two's Ghost Planet. The only way to explain new music this late in the season at a time when money was certainly at a premium is that Irwin had BIG plans to rejuvenate the series with this episode after a recent ratings slump. Considering how over-budget the story was to run it was a blessing in disguise that no new outer space footage was filmed.

As the spaceship, with Don and John at the helm as usual, orbits the planet, on the lower deck a party is about to begin. Outside the lab a table is set up (why not on the galley table? Perhaps it was set too far back for the camera shot the director needed) with a most unusual cake, topped by a Remco robot covered in vanilla frosting save his bubble, arms and chestplate, as this is a party for the mechanical man's birthday. The party was the idea of young Will, currently sporting a black eye caused when he was struck by the robot's present falling off the shelf in his room. One person on board is less than happy with the idea of a party-Dr. Smith, who has no present as of yet but has an absurd idea of what to get and how to get it. Robinson has already informed Smith the planet is not populated by any animals-only plants-so the Doctor decides to fly the Space Pod down to the plant planet, grab some birthday present posies and get the robot to "swear undying loyalty" as the end result.

Don locks the Jupiter's navigational controls on to the Cygnus Nebula (so they can orbit a little planet?) and heads below, giving Smith ample opportunity to sneak off in the Pod. The new Pod hatch controls are activated, allowing the newly-installed hatch with a view to rise through the Jupiter's ceiling (demonstrating once again the ship's TARDIS-like proportions) as Dr. Smith takes off in the tiny vehicle, undetected by the Robinson family and accompanied by more of Courage's new music, which makes this stock footage fun to watch.

Scissors in hand, the good Doctor lands and begins to snip away at the various plants, at first unaware of their cries of pain (an oft-repeated legend states that during rehearsal, people around the set were recruited to provide the anguished cries of the dying plants in an attempt to aid the actors, but what resulted instead were gales of laughter from the cast, especially Williams and Lockhart. Irwin was reported so incensed he suspended the two from the next two episodes. Neither actor minded much as they were still paid full salary for Fugitives in Space and Space Beauty). The plants' cries alert Tybo, the seven-foot human-faced carrot-man and apparent ruler of this part of the planet. Tybo was portrayed by the late Stanley Adams, star of episodes of Star Trek, Twilight Zone, and The Night Stalker. I was fortunate enough to interview Adams shortly before his untimely death (more on that later). Tybo accuses Smith of murder and as the cowardly Doctor attempts to flee he is halted by Willoughby (portrayed by the late James Milhollin, another Twilight Zone alumnus), a human/plant hybrid with purple hair and a head of lettuce for a heart! The evil carrot decides to spare Dr. Smith's life as he has more sinister plans for the good Doctor-Smith will become another of Tybo's half-human, half-vegetable creations!

Back onboard Jupiter 2, the party stops as someone notices Smith is missing. The robot knew all along Smith had vanished but told no one as he was not asked. As he explains to John, "I am not programmed to ask questions, only answer them." His curious response is one of the few leftovers from the script's first draft, as is his next line, "Happy Birthday to me!" Dr. Smith is contacted but refuses to return to the Jupiter so, over Major West's objections, the space family plans to land the ship and rescue Smith. As the space travelers look out the viewport the careful observer can spot the fact that the glass and two metal strips that divide the windows have been removed for easier filming without reflections from the lights. This was also done in the Flight Into the Future episode.

Once landed, the Robinsons arm themselves with previously-unseen machetes, disembark, and leave Will and Judy onboard to keep an eye on the ship while John and the others search for the missing Dr. Smith. Accompanied by cries from the screaming shrubbery they hack their way through the jungle and are captured by Tybo as well, prisoners in a filthy WW II surplus net rescued from an earlier Fox film. The net was supposed to capture the Robinsons and lift them off the ground but to save money and time it was dropped on them instead. June Lockhart once remarked in an interview how disgusting the net was and how no one wanted to let it touch them.

Of course, when the rest of the crew do not return to the ship in a timely manner Will and Judy disobey orders, grab two more jungle knives and go out to rescue the others. In a nod to future voicemail, Will leaves a message for his parents on the former vector tapes, then, accompanied by the robot, the two Robinson children set out.

The first member of the Jupiter 2 crew they discover is Smith, attached to a tree by foliage and liking it .Leaving the robot to rescue Dr. Smith Will and Judy move on but are soon the plants' prisoners as well! Willoughby finds and releases them and they run off.

John, Maureen, Don and Penny are. meanwhile, trapped in Tybo's hothouse, another first draft script leftover. Trapped inside by a forcefield they are forced to listen to Tybo's plans to transform all of them into living human vegetables! After the carrot-man departs Willoughby encounters the other Robinsons for the first time and helps them formulate an escape plan. Below the hothouse is another room that controls the temperature above, among other things. As Don and John begin to search for the trapdoor Penny faints and begins to take root! Maureen is afraid to move her for fear of injury. The metal door on the floor is located and off go Robinson and West, tramping down stairs which in reality did not exist. In the same interview June revealed that Williams and Goddard had to pretend to walk down a flight of stairs and walk offscreen, hidden by the huge metal door. Once in the hothouse basement (another set) the men mistakenly turn the wrong valve and are sprayed by off-screen fire extinguishers...you can even hear the "whoosh!" "Now I know the difference between a high-pressure valve and a shut-off valve!" exclaims John.

Still looking for their parents, Will and Judy fall down a deep hole and are attacked by a plant monster, recycled from the first draft and later used in the Flaming Planets episode. Thanks to the robot and a knotted rope whose origin is unknown the kids are saved.

Back at the greenhouse the snowstorm created by John is halted when Tybo returns then leaves again, giving Will and Judy ample opportunity to try and shut off the forcefield, with no success. It's up to John and Don to descend the imaginary steps and try again to activate the Main Shut-Off switch.

Will and Judy, on the way back to spaceship, find Smith again, now a green-faced enormous poetry-quoting stalk of celery! Willoughby is there of course, nibbling on Smith, an reference to an earlier mishap involving the ORIGINAL Willoughby (more later). Just like Penny, Smith could perish if moved. Will's plan involves going back to the greenhouse and pleading for mercy, which is a bad plan as Will is sprayed by Tybo with a plant extract that immobilizes him. The helpful robot is rendered inoperative as well.

Judy is the only Robinson free to move about. She encounters Willoughby again, who this time is carrying hypodermic needles that can restore plants to their original life forms. Thanks to her pleas the purple-haired man drips some liquid on Celery Smith, who shrieks and runs off eventually to be cured.

Robinson and West's machinations have resulted in the de-activation of Tybo's machines, turning Penny back to normal again and allowing them to escape. Even the "moisture mechanisms" are off, dooming the evil carrot to a dry fate until John steps in and gives him water. Willoughby is invited to join the Jupiter 2 crew but declines, stating he must nurse Tybo back to health. Smith helps Tybo to his feet then scurries off to the departing ship, thus ending the aired version of this episode. But the long, ridiculous road from the story's inception to its airing finally on the television screen is so fraught with foolishness it would eclipse any other Irwin Allen production in terms of outrageousness ever produced.

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO!


Jupiter 2 approaches planet.


Happy Birthday Robot!


It's a party.


Tybo.


Willoughby.


Smith meets Willoughby and Tybo.


Family caught in net.


Celery Smith.


Can Willoughby save Dr. Smith?


Penny as a plant.


More Celery Smith.


Don and John down in the greenhouse.


Will battles a plant.


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