Director: Ezra Stone
Writer: Robert Hamner
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, Michael Conrad, Tol Avery, and Charles Horvath
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 1/31/1968
Production #: 1522
After Dr. Smith inadvertently assists in the escape of Creech (Michael Conrad)—an apelike convict—and implicates Major West in the process, all three men are sentenced to a life of hard labor on the prison planet Destructon. Although Don appears content to wait for Will and the Robot to appeal his case via the proper legal channels, Dr. Smith decides to assist Creech with his jailbreak upon learning of a fortune in deutronium waiting just outside the penitentiary.
“Fugitives in Space” is marred by excessive camp. Fans of the ongoing conflict between Dr. Smith and Major West will, however, enjoy this episode for partially resolving the tumultuous relationship thereof.
An infernal labor camp setting is employed in conjunction with Creech’s brutal demeanor toward Don and Zachary, thereby allowing the predicament facing both protagonists to resonate with those of a sensitive inclination. Another hopeless layer is added to the circumstances of Dr. Smith and Major West when the Warden (Tol Avery), in a gross display of injustice, nonchalantly imposes a life sentence on two innocent men and later refuses to reconsider his judgment when presented with exonerating evidence. Michael Conrad and Tol Avery did an excellent job of accentuating the unease that many viewers will feel upon witnessing the maltreatment received by both main characters, though it should be noted that the Warden’s ridiculous choice of wardrobe tends to distract from an otherwise somber situation.
By “sniffing” a prisoner’s uniform to track a man’s scent and later baking an explosive cake while dressed in chef’s whites, the Robot is portrayed as a big, goofy ham used only for comic relief purposes—a sorry fate for arguably the most iconic robot in science fiction history.
Similar to “The Space Primevals,” “Fugitives in Space” demonstrates that for all his cowardly and selfish behavior, Dr. Smith does in fact care deeply for Major West—the evidence for which lies in his refusal to abandon the trusty pilot when doing so would prove personally beneficial. Despite all his frequent outbursts directed at Dr. Smith, Major West likewise appears to harbor feelings of respect for his longtime nemesis, which surface during his efforts to assist Zachary through a field of mines. “Fugitives in Space” therefore deserves commendation for offering closure to the Dr. Smith/Major West feud; however, audiences should be warned that Major West holds Dr. Smith at gunpoint a mere two episodes later in “The Flaming Planet.”
Many antics featured in “Fugitives in Space” may elicit groaning from individuals with a preference for mature and thoughtful subject matter. That being said, writer Robert Hamner’s profound allusions to loyalty and friendship will appeal to Lost in Space enthusiasts of a sentimental nature.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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