Director: Alex Singer
Writer: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Jonathan Harris
Composer: Herman Stein
Air Date: 9/22/1965
Production #: 8502
After fixing the Jupiter 2’s NGS scanner and surviving a close encounter with a comet, John and Maureen are rescued by Major West, who then pilots the ship to safety. The Robinsons find themselves in a new predicament, however, when a tractor beam locks onto the Jupiter 2 and drags it inside the bowels of a mysterious vessel.
A riveting science fiction adventure, “The Derelict” centers on the Robinsons’ first encounter with a hostile alien species. Also noteworthy are the fascinating set designs featured on the derelict ship, which accentuate the unsettling nature of Will and Dr. Smith’s journey into a world of extraterrestrial origin.
Whereas “The Reluctant Stowaway” spent a great deal of time acquainting viewers with the main characters before plunging them into a variety of disaster-themed situations, “The Derelict” operates on a more unpredictable narrative structure. As an example, the opening segments generate tension by presenting the Robinsons with an entirely new set of challenges, while a slower middle section allows time to absorb the marvelous interior of the derelict spacecraft as Will and Dr. Smith traverse its magnificent corridors (many of these designs were recycled from the brain tissue sequence in Fantastic Voyage; however, such props succeed in highlighting the alien nature of the bubble creatures’ technology and power sources). In this episode’s final moments, a more action-oriented approach is once again utilized when Will and Dr. Smith are forced to flee after the latter character opens fire on a bubble creature during a botched communication attempt. By shifting pace at various points as described above, “The Derelict” offers a smooth bridge between the introduction and climax, which is where the most exciting scenarios can be found.
Also worth mentioning is the tragic score conducted by Herman Stein, which enhances any peril facing John and Maureen as the comet makes its way toward the Jupiter 2. After repairing the broken hatch and returning safely to the ship’s interior, John wishes Penny and Will goodnight over an emotionally stirring musical piece also composed by Stein (this motif can likewise be heard many times throughout the series, usually during affectionate displays among family members). A haunting score additionally heightens the sense of wonder that audiences will no doubt feel upon observing Will and Dr. Smith’s exploration of the derelict craft, while a victorious arrangement similar to that of the original Star Wars finale will encourage viewers to celebrate when the Robinsons escape from the “ghost ship” and proceed to a nearby planet.
Several logical inconsistencies and scientific inaccuracies are present.
Character development and family relationships are both strongly emphasized in Peter Packer’s narrative (highlights include Will’s insistence upon accompanying his father and Major West on their mission to obtain star charts from the alien ship’s data banks, as well as a minor sequence that initiates the implied romance between Don and Judy). It should also be noted that although Will disobeys a direct order from Professor Robinson at one point, the young lad seems to do so out of genuine concern for the welfare of John and Don; therefore, “The Derelict” further establishes Will as a model child despite his aforementioned act of defiance.
“The Derelict” showcases the tremendous potential had by Lost in Space before it transitioned into a farcical fantasy show. For fans of science fiction settings coupled with excellent family values, this one is a must.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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