Director: Tony Leader
Writer: Norman Lessing
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Jonathan Harris
Composer: Johnny Williams
Air Date: 9/29/1965
Production #: 8503
After Dr. Smith maliciously tampers with Professor Robinson’s parajets, Major West is forced to land the Jupiter 2 on a nearby planet (officially named Priplanus in later episodes) in order to search for John. While Don, Maureen, and the children explore Priplanus, Dr. Smith reprograms the Robot to kill every “nonessential” crew member excluding himself.
The middle chapter of Lost in Space’s inaugural story arc, “Island in the Sky” presents another series of thrilling adventures involving the Robinson family and Major West. Also worth mentioning are the character relationships and conflicts that begin to take shape in this episode, many of which would play a pivotal role in the eventual direction of this series.
After sabotaging the Jupiter 2 and preventing friendly relations with the bubble creatures in “The Reluctant Stowaway” and “The Derelict” respectively, Dr. Smith stoops to a new level of depravity, this time by attempting to murder Professor Robinson and later eliminate young Will via proxy. Naturally, such a dark approach to the character allowed Jonathan Harris to offer what can perhaps be described as his strongest and most sinister performance of all time—much in contrast to his lighthearted shenanigans in future episodes. Equally praiseworthy is Mark Goddard’s portrayal of Major West, who, for the first time, becomes a formidable opponent to Dr. Smith and thus stands in the way of his odious plans for the family. While an intense rivalry between Don and Zachary would continue to build over the next several years, the personality clash stemming from Major West’s dominant behavior and Dr. Smith’s mischievous activities never generates more tension than in this particular narrative.
On a minor note, the production crew should be commended for crafting a set of circumstances that provided an opportunity to seamlessly integrate footage from the unaired pilot with brand new material (most remarkably, Major West decides to ride out the Jupiter 2’s crash landing in a freezing tube, which gave room for a parallel sequence from “No Place to Hide” to be used in a canonical episode). In addition to the Jupiter 2’s grand arrival on Priplanus, a great deal of scenery showcasing the alien world is featured in this episode, the majority of which benefits from another magnificent “Johnny” Williams score (like Herman Stein’s arrangement from “The Derelict,” the musical composition recorded for “Island in the Sky” would likewise be incorporated, albeit less effectively so, into many second and third season Lost in Space episodes).
As indicated earlier, “Island in the Sky” sows the seeds of discord between Major West and Dr. Smith that would continue to grow as their relationship (or lack thereof) progressed over time. Additionally relevant are Zachary’s comically disparaging interactions with the Robot B-9, which would eventually transition into a more fun-spirited banter between the two (needless to say, Dr. Smith’s alliterative insults are kept to a minimum at this point, likely due to the fact that excessive humor would undermine the Robot’s currently menacing nature). This episode also marks the introduction of Debbie the Bloop, which serves the purpose of expanding Penny’s zoological interests as referenced in the series pilot.
By combining disaster elements with Robinson family values, “Island in the Sky” will appeal to Lost in Space fans. Also exceptional are the performances of Harris and Goddard, which offer an additional layer of conflict to an already riveting premise.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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