Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Barney Slater
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Michael Rennie
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 1/12/1966
Production #: 8516
After arriving on Priplanus, the Keeper (Michael Rennie)—a collector of alien specimens—extends a cordial greeting to the Robinson family. Nevertheless, the Keeper soon reveals the true meaning of his visit: to add a pair of humans—namely Will and Penny—to the menagerie on his spaceship.
“The Keeper Part 1” benefits from topnotch performances and a compelling narrative conflict. Also worth praising is the cliffhanger ending of this episode, which will appeal to fans of the sci-fi/horror crossover genre.
Despite his evil intentions, the Keeper maintains a benevolent facade due to the performance of Michael Rennie—known for his portrayal of Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Notably, the delicate voice, gentle appearance, and charming demeanor of Rennie serve to endear the audience to his character—attributes that, in addition to concealing the Keeper’s actual motive from the viewer, establish a possible redemption arc for the guest villain, who, in contrast to Dr. Smith, interacts with the Robinson family in a graceful, dignified, and somewhat reasonable manner.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
On a technical level, “The Keeper Part 1” deserves criticism for its dated creature effects—primarily showcased during the aforementioned cliffhanger. Specifically, while attempting to commandeer an alien spacecraft, Dr. Smith accidentally frees a number of hideous monsters from the Keeper’s menagerie—a terrifying sequence marred by poor production values.
Offering a valuable lesson on the importance of respecting property rights, “The Keeper Part 1” should be commended by those who enjoy Lost in Space for its moral commentary. In one scene, for example, John and Maureen refuse to comply with Dr. Smith’s hijacking of the alien vessel, claiming that under no circumstances do the ends justify the means—a testament to the strong sense of ethics embodied by the Robinsons and Major West.
Similar to “The Cage” from Star Trek, “The Keeper Part 1” makes effective use of the alien zookeeper trope. Science fiction buffs will therefore enjoy this episode (along with its phenomenal conclusion), which earns its reputation as a classic installment of Lost in Space.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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