Director: Don Richardson
Writers: Bob and Wanda Duncan
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, Dee Hartford, Tiger Joe Marsh, and Fritz Feld
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 10/26/1966
Production #: 9507
Having encountered a mechanical catalogue, Dr. Smith orders a female android known as Verda (Dee Hartford). When Mr. Zumdish (Fritz Feld)—manager of the Celestial Department Store—arrives on the planet demanding payment for Verda, Penny and her family refuse to hand over their guest without a fight.
“The Android Machine” is a cute and emotionally stirring episode of Lost in Space. Viewers of a serious temperament may nevertheless wish to avoid this episode, the campy humor of which can only be described as intrusive.
By exhibiting a childlike curiosity toward her surroundings, Verda comes across as a likable, if somewhat odd, nonhuman character—similar to Data, a male android whom science fiction fans will know from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Especially touching are Verda’s interactions with Judy and Penny, who, unlike Dr. Smith, recognize and develop the extraordinary potential possessed by their new friend.
Hoping to frighten Verda, Dr. Smith plants a variety of flowers near the entrance to a dangerous cave. Taking the bait, Verda examines the flora while guiding a nature walk with Will and Penny, prompting a green-skinned, red-eyed monster to emerge from the cavern and attack her—a potentially terrifying sequence marred by low production values. Specifically worth criticizing is the creature’s appearance, which resembles that of a giant, glowering Sour Patch Kid.
Over the course of Bob and Wanda Duncan’s narrative, Verda gradually embraces the human side of her personality—a poignant example of character development that lays the groundwork for Verda’s return in “Revolt of the Androids.”
For emphasizing Penny’s friendship with Verda (a parallel to Will’s connection with the Robot), “The Android Machine” deserves praise from those of a sensitive inclination. The juvenile antics of Jonathan Harris and Fritz Feld—whose character embodies the manner of a typical 1960s department store clerk—do, however, detract from the heartwarming subject matter at the core of this offering.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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