Lost in Space Episode 56: The Phantom Family

General Information

Director: Ezra Stone

Writer: Peter Packer

Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Alan Hewitt

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 3/29/1967

Production #: 9528

 

Overview

When John and Maureen depart from the Jupiter 2 to study volcanic activity, alien scientist Lemnoc (Alan Hewitt) kidnaps Judy, Penny, Major West, and Dr. Smith lost-in-space-the-phantom-familybefore replacing them with android duplicates. After a great deal of pleading from Will, Lemnoc agrees to release the imprisoned humans under one condition: Will must teach the aforementioned duplicates to emulate the behavior of their flesh-and-blood counterparts.

Similar to “The Dream Monster” from earlier in season two, “The Phantom Family” offers a unique and fascinating twist on the mad scientist trope. Worth praising in particular is the haunting atmosphere of this episode, which will appeal to Lost in Space enthusiasts of a serious temperament.

 

Pros

lost-in-space-the-phantom-familyUpon returning to the Jupiter 2, Will attempts to engage (the clones of) Don, Penny, and Judy in conversation only to be met with blank expressions and dead, cold silence from all three individuals—a surreal and chilling display, especially when complemented with elements of Klaatu’s theme, Bernard Herrmann’s eerie composition from The Day the Earth Stood Still.

 

Cons

By behaving in a clumsy, ridiculous manner, the creations of Lemnoc occasionally hamper the dark and mysterious tone of this episode. For example, the Dr. Smith lost-in-space-the-phantom-familyandroid repeatedly forgets his name and conducts himself like a buffoon during the training sessions of Will—a campy, juvenile addition to an otherwise thought-provoking story.

Also problematic is the fact that Will, supposedly a highly intelligent young man, fails to uncover the truth about Lemnoc’s duplicates—whom even casual fans could identify as imposters—until the Robot explains everything to him.

 

Analysis

lost-in-space-the-phantom-familyBy going to extraordinary lengths to rescue his family and friends (including the undeserving Dr. Smith) from Lemnoc, Will demonstrates a noble and self-sacrificing nature—an aspect that will tug the heartstrings of sensitive viewers.

 

Concluding Comments

“The Phantom Family” is a spooky, unnerving episode that benefits from a poignant twist in the climactic scene. There are times, however, when the antics of Dr. Smith (in android form) detract from the solemnity of Peter Packer’s narrative.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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3 thoughts on “Lost in Space Episode 56: The Phantom Family

  1. I think this may be my favorite Season Two episode because it features the whole cast (well except poor John and Maureen). It was more serious in tone and I enjoyed how the cast acted so differently when they were their replacements. You are so right that Will was pretty stupid for not putting the pieces together.

  2. This is my number nineteen 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.. :-]

  3. Here is another solid and serious story, within the home stretch of classic and lovable mid season of LOST IN SPACE. This one, however, I put more in my ‘average’ category. Ironically, perhaps the biggest turn off for me in this one is the high use of Alexander Courage’s scores from THE CAVE OF THE WIZARDS. It is very eerie sounding, but this is the third (and last) time we hear these background scores. By now, I grow a bit weary of hearing it.

    There is nothing really terribly wrong about this story. It is perhaps a bit too on the sci-fi side for me though. The original lost castaways premise is what works best for me. Overall though, very good..