Director: Don Richardson
Writer: Barney Slater
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Al Lewis
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 2/15/1967
Production #: 9522
Planning an “explosive” publicity stunt, space magician Zalto (Al Lewis) recruits Dr. Smith for a special assignment: the good doctor must fire rockets at a deserted asteroid, thereby spelling out Zalto’s name in flaming letters. When Will accidentally traps himself in the vessel piloted by Dr. Smith, Zalto is forced to reveal his sinister intentions to the Robinson family.
“Rocket to Earth” is a mildly amusing episode of Lost in Space. That being said, Barney Slater’s narrative is marred by hackneyed dialogue and science fiction elements of a dubious nature.
Comedian Al Lewis (known for playing Sam “Grandpa” Dracula in The Munsters) deserves praise for his portrayal of Zalto, the shenanigans of whom serve to complement the campy tone of this episode. Especially worth noting are Zalto’s failed attempts to harness the power of magic, which, perhaps intentionally, resemble the antics of Lewis’ aforementioned Grandpa character.
While bidding farewell to Dr. Smith, Will and the Robot share a heartfelt exchange with their longtime companion. Though slightly touching, the parting sequence is overshadowed by a similar display in the following episode, “The Cave of the Wizards,” wherein Will must say goodbye to Dr. Smith and the Robot for supposedly the last time.
Upon learning that Will and Dr. Smith will soon arrive on Earth, Maureen responds with the statement, “Dear, I do hope it isn’t too cold; you know, he wasn’t very warmly dressed”—arguably the most cringe-inducing line in the entire series.
By deceiving Zalto and using his spaceship to return to Earth, Dr. Smith manages to survive a deadly advertising gimmick. Therefore, “Rocket to Earth” sends an ambiguous message about the benefit of lying for personal gain.
For combining the talents of Lewis—a vaudeville performer—with those of Jonathan Harris, “Rocket to Earth” should be commended. Nevertheless, viewers of a serious inclination would be wise to forgo this effort.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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