Lost in Space Episode 61: Visit to a Hostile Planet

General Information

Director: Sobey Martin

Writer: Peter Packer

Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, Robert Foulk, Pitt Herbert, Claire Wilcox, Norman Leavitt, and Robert Pine

Composer: Cyril Mockridge

Air Date: 9/13/1967

Production #: 1505

 

Overview

After passing through a time warp, the Jupiter 2 arrives in Manitou Junction, Michigan—the residents of which mistake the Robinson family for Voltones, anlost-in-space-visit-to-a-hostile-planet alien race featured in a Tales of Tomorrow story. While Will and the Robot remain in custody, Dr. Smith—posing as a fire chief—assumes control of the town and prepares to alter history for his own benefit.

By combining small-town tropes with a science fiction premise, “Visit to a Hostile Planet” earns its reputation as a classic installment of Lost in Space. Especially worth praising is the humor showcased in this entry, which, as opposed to the excessive camp of many prior episodes, never undermines the serious predicament involving each main character.

 

Pros

lost-in-space-visit-to-a-hostile-planetInstead of receiving the welcome party that would be expected following a two-year absence from Earth, John and the others locate not a single person, military or civilian, in the vicinity of their ship. Further unsettling, Maureen and the girls survey the immediate area only to find that all nearby offices and buildings have been strangely abandoned—a discovery that, when coupled with the actors’ expressions of dismay, works to plant an ominous suggestion in the viewer’s mind (i.e. that the Robinsons might not even be on Earth; but rather in the midst of an elaborate and malevolent alien ruse, similar to that of the Saticons in season two’s “The Galaxy Gift”).

lost-in-space-visit-to-a-hostile-planetIn later scenes, Cragmire (Robert Faulk) and his brigade of bumbling townsfolk allow Dr. Smith, a moronic goofball with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, to crown himself leader of Manitou Junction, relying upon his wisdom to resolve the “alien invasion” crisis—a hilarious, if unrealistic, plot development which indicates that the Lost in Space creative team could, at least on occasion, provide comic relief without resorting to childish or over-the-top antics.

 

Cons

None.

 

Analysis

lost-in-space-visit-to-a-hostile-planetThough presented with the opportunity to become a rich and powerful ruler in the year 1947, Professor Robinson chooses to leave the past behind for fear of contaminating the timeline. Reminiscent of the Prime Directive from Star Trek, John’s personal non-interference policy serves as a commentary, albeit a subtle one, on the merits of allowing civilizations to develop without petty or needless intervention from foreign powers.

 

Concluding Comments

A delightful homage to the small-town sitcoms of the 1960s (e.g. Green Acres and The Andy Griffith Show), “Visit to a Hostile Planet” should be requisite viewing for classic television buffs. Additionally clever is the implied predestination paradox in this episode, which offers a unique and memorable twist on the UFO legends of decades past.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

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7 thoughts on “Lost in Space Episode 61: Visit to a Hostile Planet

  1. Like you, I think this is LIS at it’s best. It takes a serious approach but retains humorous elements. I love it because it’s one of the few episodes in which the entire cast is featured. It does have one major flaw however. The stand off with Dr. Smith threatening the Jupiter 2 with an old canon is ridiculous. If the sophisticated weapons and force field of a space craft from the future can’t provide defense from a canon that was already an outdated weapon in the 50’s, then, well no wonder it went off course. That whole scene broke the spell of the episode and took me out of it. Other than that, though, it’s excellent.

  2. This is my number one ranked episode for the psychedelic and far out, all over the place, highly inconsistent and relatively overrated, shortest final colored season..

  3. Nowadays, this is my top number one favorite episode of the season. It was not always on top, but it has always been right there. As far as colored episodes go, it is quite good. Season Three looks quite impressive so far. I always like time travel stories. This one is really good, I would say.

    The different look and feel of this LiS installment is complimented well by the guest scores from composer Cyril Mockridge.

    There are some fans who do not like this episode, proving once again that you cannot please all of the folks all of the time..

  4. The one con of this episode would have to be the silly scarecrow outfit used to hide the identity of the robot. Outside of that this is one of the series best.

  5. What about the fact that many of the scenes were filmed outside the studio? Gives it a different feel. And it would have been interesting if they would have left them on Earth 1947 for a few shows to see how that would have played out. They were stuck on one planet in season one and then another in season two. Always seemed liked the same sets.

  6. I wonder how many fans recognised a young Robert Pine who played Sgt. Joseph Getraer in the 70’s classic ‘CHiPs’. And of course there’s a connection to Star Trek as he’s Chris Pine’s AKA Captain Kirk Dad