Lost in Space Episode 69: Space Creature

General Information

Director: Sobey Martin

Writer: William Welch

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

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 11/15/1967

Production #: 1511

 

Overview

When a foggy substance engulfs the Jupiter 2, crew members begin disappearing one at a time until only Will and Dr. Smith remain. Confined to a spooky dimension, lost-in-space-space-creaturethe Robinson family and Major West confront a ghostly being who preys upon the deep-rooted fears, prejudices, and insecurities of its victims.

Arguably the scariest episode of Lost in Space, “Space Creature” should be requisite viewing for enthusiasts of the sci-fi/horror crossover genre. The crude appearance of the id monster may, however, prompt snickering from the audience on occasion.

 

Pros

lost-in-space-space-creatureWhile impersonating Dr. Smith, the id monster behaves in a cruel and malevolent fashion toward an unsuspecting Will. Specifically, the creature (in Smith’s body) addresses the Robinson boy in a deep, menacing tone of voice; strikes him on the face; and chases him through the Jupiter 2 before revealing his true identity to the child—a chilling display that will appeal to fans of the sinister Dr. Smith from early season one.

 

Cons

Likely inspired by the Shadowman from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the space creature embodies a mysterious, terrifying presence by maintaining anlost-in-space-space-creature indistinct form during his interactions with the Robinson family. Nevertheless, the concept of a “bed sheet” monster borders on the absurd—suspension of disbelief notwithstanding.

Also problematic is the existence of a third level inside the Jupiter 2, the external layout of which appears incapable of containing more than one or two decks at any given time.

 

Analysis

lost-in-space-space-creatureSimilar to the Beta XII-A entity from Star Trek’s “Day of the Dove,” the alien boogeyman in “Space Creature” feeds upon negative emotions (e.g. fear, hate, and self-doubt) in order to survive and flourish—a fascinating premise for a science fiction story, and one that might have delivered a more profound impact had the personality flaws of Will, John, Penny, Judy, Maureen, Dr. Smith, and Major West been explored in greater detail.

 

Concluding Comments

In contrast to “The Astral Traveler,” “The Cave of the Wizards,” and many other horror-themed episodes of Lost in Space, “Space Creature” employs a dark, serious approach toward examining topics of a mature and disturbing nature. Especially worth praising is the performance of Jonathan Harris, whose portrayal of the possessed Dr. Smith deserves its reputation as a series highlight.

 

Overall Quality: 8/10

 

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5 thoughts on “Lost in Space Episode 69: Space Creature

  1. I agree with your comments praising this episode and damning the laughable appearance of the alien. You are right that this episode would have been enhanced if it had treated the case like an ensemble. In some ways I think of it as a companion piece to the Magic Mirror or Mr. Nobody it addresses the complex feelings of being angry with and hurt by but still loving your family (through the eyes of a child). It speaks volumes about the other elements of this episode that years after the anti-climatic “man in a sheet” reveal that still consider this a truly terrifying episode. One last note, it reminds me of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Remember Me” except that believe it or not it is more unsettling!

  2. I used to think the “bed sheet ghost” costume was ridiculous, even when I was a kid. However, I’ve rethought this episode over the years (I’m 51 now), and I believe what the writers were doing was trying to represent the stereotypical (traditional, perhaps) images of what causes fear in the human mind. For example, at one point in the misty world to which the Robinsons were taken by the creature, there’s a maniacal laugh. On hearing it, Penny says, “That’s creepy. Where’s it coming from?” The creature answers, “Right behind you…of course.” It’s calling to mind the cliché of the creepy voice “behind you.” In other words, of COURSE it’s behind you…where else WOULD it be? And what appears? The cliché of a ghost as many people picture one in their minds. The creature is drawing on these traditional mental images to frighten the Robinson’s.

    So I no longer think it’s a cheap costume, but a deliberate representation of what scares us, particularly when we were young.

    Or maybe I’m just being too generous in my analysis.

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

  4. After the season slips with the previous story, it quickly bounces back with what I consider already the second last of the above par stories for the entire season. That does not say a whole lot for down the stretch, although many others seem to like this season more than I do. I have to do that though, to get back at the folks who generally trash beloved Season Two in general. That grates on my sensors..

    Anyway, this is quite a popular story, and as far as colored episodes go, it is one of the spookiest..well, as spooky as you can get this season. I do like this one quite well, and you can see a comment above for my personal season ranking, as this one just squeaked into my top one-third area of the season. The quality is about to fall out (in air date order).

  5. An interesting episode because if features surreal soldiers – just like the episode from Doctor Who (BBC TV) ‘The Mind Robber (1968) and STNG ‘Hide and Q’ (1987)