Lost in Space Episode 40: West of Mars

General Information

Director: Nathan Juran

Writer: Michael Fessier

Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, Allan Melvin, Mickey Manners, and Ken Mayer

Composer: Robert Drasnin

Air Date: 11/30/1966

Production #: 9512

 

Overview

Hoping to evade capture, Zeno (Jonathan Harris)—a notorious criminal who resembles Dr. Smith—assumes the place of his doppelganger aboard the Jupiter 2. Intent lost-in-space-west-of-marson arresting Zeno, Enforcer Claudio (Allan Melvin) takes Dr. Smith into custody by mistake.

A cringe-inducing parody of the Western genre, “West of Mars” deserves its reputation as one of the worst Lost in Space episodes ever made. Exceptionally terrible is writer Michael Fessier’s portrayal of the Robinsons, who, for some inexplicable reason, appear unable to differentiate between Dr. Smith and a gravel-voiced, hot-tempered gunslinger.

 

Pros

None.

 

Cons

Though potentially amusing in a silly way, Zeno often comes across as more disturbing than humorous. While operating under Dr. Smith’s identity, for example, lost-in-space-west-of-marsZeno makes a highly inappropriate pass on Judy—a bizarre, if not skin-crawling, gesture that serves only to undermine Zeno’s purpose as a comic relief character whom children can enjoy.

In addition to the horrifying behavior of Zeno, Enforcer Claudio should be criticized for his casual references to (legal) torture and death—comments that hamper the family-friendly atmosphere of this episode.

 

Analysis

Despite being observant, intellectually gifted people, the Robinsons—including Will, surprisingly—struggle to recognize the real Dr. Smith as such. The majority oflost-in-space-west-of-mars Lost in Space fans may therefore dislike “West of Mars,” which attempts comedy at the expense of a dignified and likable family.

 

Concluding Comments

“West of Mars” is a forgettable, poorly written excuse for an episode. For science fiction enthusiasts with a low tolerance for camp, this one should be avoided at all costs.

 

Overall Quality: 1/10

 

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2 thoughts on “Lost in Space Episode 40: West of Mars

  1. This is my number twenty-five ranked episode for the classic down home, cozy and fun, colored mid season..my second favorite season of the series, despite its much maligned and unwarranted status.. :-]

  2. Pure fun! ..although it was another episode in the old days I considered a so-called ‘downer’ episode. Suspend all logic here, folks, and just ride along and enjoy the fun. Again, this one has grown on me quite well over the years.

    What has LOST IN SPACE turned into by this point though? Who cares? It is still LOST IN SPACE and it is still fun and very enjoyable. Oh, I love the western flavored twist here..