Director: Nathan Juran
Writers: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and James Gosa
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 1/3/1968
Production #: 1516
Upon landing on a strange planet, the Robinsons are greeted by a homogeneous alien species. Enamored with the diverse characteristics of their human guests, several of the aliens transform themselves into exact copies of John, Maureen, Judy, Penny, Will, Major West, and Dr. Smith before hijacking the Jupiter 2 and plotting a course for Earth. Hoping to warn Alpha Control, Will and Dr. Smith secretly board the ship prior to liftoff.
“Target Earth” should be commended for teaching a worthwhile lesson, namely that individual talents and personality traits ought to be valued over superficial differences within groups. Nevertheless, certain logical problems (e.g. the Robot’s ability to levitate when separated from his lower half) are present in this offering.
It should be noted that Peter Packer’s premise (i.e. duplicates of the Robinson family posing as the real thing) had been utilized in many previous episodes, preventing “Target Earth” from examining its central theme through a fresh and original framework. That being said, the alien versions of Professor Robinson and Major West behave in a volatile, competitive manner with each other, thereby resembling actual humans instead of automatons—much in contrast to the monotonous, robotic imposters featured in “The Phantom Family” from season two. Viewers may therefore enjoy “Target Earth,” which, in spite of its recycled subject matter, maintains a compelling atmosphere due to the unpredictable, perhaps even downright scary, behavior of the cloned family.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Having regained control of the Jupiter 2 and arrived safely in Chicago, Will immediately returns to outer space in order to rescue those who were left behind on the alien world. Despite the nobility of Will’s gesture, audiences may question why the young lad refuses to leave Dr. Smith—a meddlesome character who desperately wishes to remain on his home planet—on Earth before resuming his journey.
By mistaking superficial differences among humans for true diversity, the aliens in this episode fail to adjust to the new bodies that they create for themselves—a subtle indication that the substance of one’s character is more important than the external features (e.g. skin or hair color) possessed by a person.
For employing science fiction as a vehicle through which to explore the topic of diversity, “Target Earth” deserves praise from Lost in Space enthusiasts. Fans of a critical mindset may, however, take issue with the absurd plot device contained in the opening sequence of this episode.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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