Lost in Space Episode 20: War of the Robots

General Information

Director: Sobey Martin

Writer: Barney Slater

Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Jonathan Harris

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 2/9/1966

Production #: 8521

 

Overview

While returning from a fishing trip, Will and the Robot encounter a deactivated Robotoid. Against the wishes of the Robot, Will proceeds to repair and restore the Robotoid—now a humble servant of the Robinson family. Ostensibly a more advanced model than the Robot lost-in-space-war-of-the-robotsB-9, the Robotoid—secretly working for a nefarious alien—attempts to enslave his human masters. Only the Robot B-9, having developed far beyond his original programming, can save the Robinsons from the malevolent Robotoid.

For achieving a perfect balance between futuristic science fiction and heartwarming subject matter, “War of the Robots” should be requisite viewing for fans of Lost in Space. Especially worth noting is the character transition of the Robot—originally a murderous, unsympathetic monster—as detailed in this episode, which will surely affect those of a sensitive nature.

 

Pros

lost-in-space-war-of-the-robotsBy employing the Robotoid as a counter to the Robot B-9, “War of the Robots” effectively establishes the latter character as possessing a genuine capacity for loyalty and emotion—a contrast made especially powerful by the musical selections featured in this episode. For example, Bernard Herrmann’s “Gort” theme—an ominous composition from The Day the Earth Stood Still—serves to accentuate the sinister, foreboding presence of the aforementioned Robotoid. John Williams’ “Monster Rebels” track from “The Reluctant Stowaway,” on the other hand, distinguishes the Robot B-9 as a magnificent, emotionally driven piece of machinery that, even when replaced by a “superior” model, will go to extraordinary lengths to protect his family from a diabolical invader.

lost-in-space-war-of-the-robotsIn one scene, Dr. Smith (unwilling to suspect the worst about the Robotoid) insults the Robot B-9 before compelling him to leave the Jupiter 2—a heart-wrenching display that, though painful to watch, should be praised for forming the basis of a long-lasting series trope (i.e. Dr. Smith refusing to heed the Robot’s cautionary advice, only to suffer terrible consequences as a result).

 

Cons

None.

 

Analysis

lost-in-space-war-of-the-robotsThe first episode of Lost in Space to acknowledge the Robot as a compassionate being, “War of the Robots” emphasizes the deep affection that the Robinsons feel for their bubble-headed companion and vice versa—a sentiment that would define the Robot’s relationship with the main characters (excepting Dr. Smith) for years to come.

 

Concluding Comments

“War of the Robots” is a poignant, iconic episode that solidifies the Robot as an irreplaceable member of the Robinson family. Also remarkable is the villainous role played by Robby the Robot (known for appearing in the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet), who presents himself as a cunning adversary to the Robot B-9.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

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3 thoughts on “Lost in Space Episode 20: War of the Robots

  1. Hi. Just found your blog and have been reading your reviews. Love them by the way. I am surprised you didn’t add any cons to this episode though. Before I start, I want say this episode is my all time favourite and am a fan of both robots. However, there are plenty of cons. First of all, the way the Robinsons/Smith (with the exception of Will) treat the robotoid like a new car they just found on the forecourt which they are happy to trade in their old one (the robot) for with no regard to where the robotoid originates from or the possible dangers it could represent. Ignoring that, would a group of people trying to survive on an alien planet really just throw away a perfectly good machine just because they have now have a better model? Surely two robots are better than one? Also this episode shows what a callous group the Robinsons really are (with the exception of Will) to allow an obviously thinking machine to just leave and in effect go off to commit suicide, though you could say that this is the episode that they come realise that it is more than just a device (especially after just saving them from certain doom).

    • You make a good point about the Robinsons’ callous behavior toward the Robot B-9 – that part never sat well with me. Also, while I could understand if Will and the girls were enamored of the Robotoid initially, Professor Robinson and Major West should have known better than to trust an alien mechanism before examining it thoroughly.

      When I first started writing reviews, I tended to let my nostalgia for certain episodes cloud my objective analysis – a mistake that I now try to avoid as much as possible. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and providing feedback.