Director: Nathan Juran
Writer: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Arthur Batanides
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 10/4/1967
Production #: 1503
When the Jupiter 2 is threatened by a lava flow, Dr. Smith and Major West take the Chariot to a nearby volcano with the intention of capping it. A problem arises when Don and Zachary are captured by an alien tribe ruled by Protineus, a powerful computer, forcing both men to set aside their differences and depend on each other for survival.
For highlighting themes of friendship, self-sacrifice, and reconciliation in a disaster-themed setting, “The Space Primevals” should be commended by fans of Lost in Space. The antics of Rongah (Arthur Batanides) and his fellow savages may, however, try the patience of those with a low tolerance for camp.
Dangling from the edge of a cliff, Major West calls out to Dr. Smith who—much to the surprise of longtime viewers—risks his life to save that of his perpetual nemesis. Thereafter, Don and Zachary (still trapped in a cave and running low on oxygen) shake hands and express a heartfelt admiration for each other—a touching display that will appeal to those of a sensitive nature.
Attempting to distract the alien primitives, the Robot—now fashioned in prehistoric attire—participates in a tribal dance with Rangah and the other natives. Despite allowing Professor Robinson to locate and communicate with Protineus, the antics of the Robot—perceived as a god by the planetary inhabitants—will likely induce groaning from viewers of a serious inclination.
Also worth criticizing is the fact that Dr. Smith and Major West resume their bickering in the final scene, thereby reversing the character development established in earlier sequences.
Similar to “The Return of the Archons” from Star Trek: The Original Series, “The Space Primevals” features a scenario in which an omnipotent computer (i.e. Protineus) prevents a race of aliens from recognizing its true potential. As opposed to the Beta III civilization enslaved by Landru, however, Rangah and his people lack the intelligence to erect a flourishing society independent of Protineus’ guidance—an ethical consideration that Professor Robinson, who wishes to help the space primevals by eliminating their mechanical deity, fails to address.
“The Space Primevals” makes underwhelming use of a worthwhile science fiction concept. The poignant interactions between Major West and Dr. Smith, the rivalry of whom had been thoroughly exhausted by this late point in the series, nevertheless redeem this episode from its middling execution.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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