Attack of the Monster Reviews
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Writer Peter Packer, Directed by Alvin Ganzer, episode production number 8506, first aired 10/20/65.

OPENING NARRATION BY JOHN ROBINSON (GUY WILLIAMS) DELETED FROM SCRIPT BEFORE FILMING:

"The morning of January 10 1997 by Earth reckoning...our thirty-seventh day upon this barren world...on this day it became apparent that we would not be alone here for much longer..."

First a brief synopsis of the episode: Earth Astronaut Jimmy Hapgood who missed a landing on Saturn 15 years earlier visits the Robinsons' planet. After a skirmish with Don, Hapgood is convinced to return to Earth with Will & Penny. However Dr Smith schemes to go with him instead but in the end no one is in the spaceship but Hapgood when he lifts off. He decides to roam the galaxy rather than return to boring Earth...

This was the first new episode detailing the Robinsons' adventures on Priplanus (the previous three were scenes from the pilot with a few newly-filmed scenes used as padding) so Irwin and his crew knew he had to keep the audience coming back every week by creating an exciting episode. He succeeded as this was reportedly the highest rated Lost in Space episode ever telecast but not necessarily the best. Fans' reaction to this episode is mixed but I enjoyed its hokey charm.

Six episodes into the series Dr Smith is already less than helpful & less than respected but not the snivelling coward he was to become as the year progressed.

This is the first script to use the "Smith Will & robot turn on the radio and raise trouble instead" subplot but not the last (Ghost Planet & Kidnapped in Space come to mind). Here it's used effectively and the family still gets lots of screen time this early in the series as well, with Don & John also accompanying the trio to meet what Smith believes are "Space Devils", later proven to be Jimmy Hapgood (the late great Warren Oates). One has to wonder why their first encounter with Jim finds him standing on a cliff looking down but it does make for a good opening teaser. "Howdy!" he shouts down at them-in fact, Oates delivers many of his lines very loudly but his acting style makes it work.

Hapgood's ship "Travellin Man" is a true 1960's icon, basically a Mercury-type capsule customized with landing struts and a few antennae on top for good measure. I believe it was first used in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode "The Indestructible Man" then modified for this show. On June 18 1982 it was supposed to make a landing on the planet Saturn (more on this later) but got-gasp!-lost in space instead.

To give writer Peter Packer some credit he does have Will mention to Hapgood that pollution on Earth is still a problem in 1997. Irwin's view of the overcrowded, polluted (then) future Earth is not an optimistic one.

John & Maureen share a passionate kiss in this episode so Allen's "no affection" edict had not come into being yet. The sunshades (leftovers from the pilot ) are up and would show up and disappear from time to time in season one depending probably on the writer's sense of continuity. Under these shades in what John & Maureen beleive to be a 'private' spot they discuss Hapgood's return to Earth with Will & Penny, unaware of Smith's annoying eavesdropping with a futuristic spy device/stethescope. John's flawed logic reasons that anyone away from Earth as long as Jim Hapgood would jump at the chance to return and that the children would automatically go with him. Wrong on both counts!

The fight scene between Jim & the jealous West over Judy's affections is fun to watch, greatly aided by the hillbilly-type mood music in the background.

This is Dr Smith's first real effort to get home and this plan fails,as they all inevitably do, though not for lack of planning...he times the childrens' running away down to the last second !

Hapgood is injured by a flying Water Conversion Unit but Mureen restores his well-being with just a bowl of her "space chowder"...someone get me that recipe!!!

The later scenes where Jim rescues Will & Penny from the mutated spores are very suspenseful and surely kept the 60's TV audience glued to their seats!

As mentioned before Hapgood (who after caniballizing precious Jupiter 2 parts) lifts off without Smith & the kids and decides not to return to Earth after all where he'd be set out to pasture. He'd rather continue to explore the universe. Here we're given the first view of his spaceship lifting off which was later used in virtually every episode after that tinted blue or yellow when an alien spacecraft left whatever planet the Robinsons happened to be on that week. But there's also a side view of an excellent miniature model of Travellin Man shown complete with firing rockets very reminiscient of the type of effects used in The Outer Limits years before. All in all a very entertaining episode in my view and much better than the hideous dreck the writers would turn later this season and way into the next!

WHAT WERE THE WRITERS THINKING? DEPT:

John describes the incoming ship as a missile when it's really a capsule and so does the Narrator but hey, they're relying on radar so I'll let this one go..

The Robinsons want to give Hapgood the interior of the full-sized Jupiter 2 astrogator to help him get home. John goes so far as to say "We have a pretty good chance of getting where we're going without it." Did the crew of the Jupiter plan to ask someone 'out there' for directions instead

Smith, a well-trained saboteur who is supposed to know the robot's workings inside and out is a terrible cybernetic doctor who's not even sure what's inside the mechanical man! "I didn't know our robot had one of these," he exclaims...

How does one land a Mercury-type one manned capsule on Saturn, a planet composed mostly of gas and with a much heavier gravity than Earth?

Why has no one ever heard of Hapgood & his mission before he visits Priplanus? Was it a secret mission, hidden from the public and members of Mission Control so that agents of a foreign power could not sabotage the flight? This is never explained...

SCRIPT CHANGES

Besides John's opening narration (which by his reckoning would have made the liftoff date on or about December 4 1996!) there was a closing narration written but never used that would have been in the beginning of the cliff-hanger to My Friend Mr Nobody: "November 25 in the Earth year of 1997. The departure of Jim Hapgood left us more determined than ever to find some means of making our way off this planet...Major West feels that if we had additional atomic fuel, we might be able to lift the Jupiter 2 free of its site and once more resume our journey...in line with this, we have begun to test drill for radioactive materials that we believe to be beneath this planet's crust..." Very similar to the 'Captain's Log' in that OTHER sci fi series.

When they first go out investigate the arrival of the mystery ship John & the others carry lasers but Will is given an "electron gun", the equivalent of an outer space BB Gun I suppose.

Judy offers Hapgood a second piece of Mom's yummy "Space Pie" (made the same time as the "Space Chowder"?) and Hapgood says' "Well, maybe if your pretty fingers'd put it in my mouth." Judy cuts a sliver of pie-rises and crosses to Hapgood-places the piece of pie in his mouth. Bet the censors had a field day with THAT sexually-charged scene!

After the chidren are rescued by the space spores Hapgood gets Smith to help him: "Start choppin' that cabbage, Zach, while I clean off my ship."


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