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
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 B-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.
By 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.
In 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).
The 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.
“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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