Director: Sutton Roley
Writer: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Jonathan Harris
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 11/10/1965
Production #: 8509
After Dr. Smith squanders the Jupiter 2’s remaining water supply by showering in the middle of a drought, the Robinsons hope to remain hydrated by collecting a type of fruit native to Priplanus. Before Professor Robinson is able to conduct edibility tests, however, Dr. Smith helps himself to the strange fruit, which has the effect of transforming him into a paranoid giant.
Similar to the first five episodes of Lost in Space, “The Oasis” operates on a premise in which the main characters are forced to survive through ingenuity alone. That being said, Dr. Smith’s juvenile antics ultimately overshadow the more fascinating conflict centering on the Robinsons’ shortage of resources.
By delivering realistic and convincing performances, all cast members excepting Jonathan Harris lent credibility to the dire predicament facing the Robinsons and Major West.
While Harris’ overacting can occasionally be spotted in prior episodes, “The Oasis” contains the first narrative in which Dr. Smith is depicted as a comical buffoon instead of a clever saboteur; thus, Zachary’s primary threat to the group stems from incompetent and reckless behavior as opposed to deliberate malice. This in itself would not necessarily be a negative aspect if not for the fact that Dr. Smith’s shenanigans tend to conflict with the more solemn attitudes of other characters. It’s also worth mentioning that a strong emphasis was placed upon solid science fiction and compelling character interactions at this point in the series, so the absurdity of Dr. Smith’s rapid growth only further hampers the quality of a potentially intellectual concept (this contrast would become less evident in future seasons, which frequently showcased the high jinks of talking carrots, cave wizards, and space Vikings over plot devices of a more cerebral nature).
Perhaps most baffling of all, several characters react with sadness when faced with Dr. Smith’s departure—a most unusual response considering the horrors that Zachary inflicted upon the Robinsons only a short time ago. While one may excuse the fact that Will and Penny lament the absence of Dr. Smith due to their childlike innocence regarding his malevolent nature, Judy and Maureen’s expression of regret for emotionally wounding a man who attempted to trade, coerce, and murder various family members can only be described as preposterous. Perhaps Peter Packer wrote the above sequence in order to soften Dr. Smith’s character and pave the way for a more benign personality change in the future; however, perceptive viewers may be less than inclined to accept this abrupt transition for reasons stated earlier.
Though not the worst that Lost in Space has to offer, “The Oasis” struggles to maintain a consistent atmosphere due to the humorous yet strangely upsetting manner with which Dr. Smith’s big adventure is explored. Fans of intelligent science fiction are therefore advised to avoid this entry given its bizarre subject matter, while those who enjoy this series for its campy, lighthearted material may likewise be offended by Dr. Smith’s disturbed mental state throughout his period as a giant.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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