Director: Don Richardson
Writer: Barney Slater
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Abraham Sofaer
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 2/21/1968
Production #: 1517
While traveling in the vicinity of a mysterious planet, the Robinsons are attacked by Sobram (Abraham Sofaer)—the sole surviving member of an ancient warrior race. Dr. Smith and Major West convince their aggressor to cease his hostilities against the Jupiter 2; however, Sobram insists that a single crew member remain behind and grant his wish for a final, glorious battle.
“The Flaming Planet” can best be described as an amalgamation of two unrelated stories, the first being a partial reimagining of season one’s “Attack of the Monster Plants” and the second, a somber tale of an old and weary general hoping to prove his worth before fading into oblivion. Though fascinating on paper, the latter premise is marred by writer Barney Slater’s inclusion of a mischievous, vegetal organism.
While a Smurf-like appearance occasionally detracts from his credibility as a brilliant military strategist, Sobram should have no difficulty earning respect from even the most critical of audiences—likely a result of Abraham Sofaer’s elegant performance. Also praiseworthy are any scenes wherein Sobram articulates the sad nature of his circumstances to Professor Robinson, the serious tone of which works to accentuate the sympathetic qualities of a ruthless, albeit honorable, foe.
Director Don Richardson’s juvenile execution of a tired plot device (e.g. killer plants) fails to make convincing any threat posed by said killer plants. Especially problematic are the mannerisms and sound effects produced by the planet’s parthenogenetic warriors, the antics of whom resemble those of Cousin Itt from The Addams Family.
“The Flaming Planet” contains all the necessary material for a worthwhile science fiction piece. As evidenced by the superior “Attack of the Monster Plants,” for example, the concept of malevolent, self-replicating vegetation can be employed without the use of cringe-worthy slapstick; likewise, the character of Sobram—a dignified general representing an extinct alien race—will appeal to viewers of a sensitive inclination. It should nevertheless be noted that “The Flaming Planet” struggles to explore either subplot with a satisfactory level of nuance, thereby serving as yet another testament to Lost in Space‘s remarkable waste of potential.
By forgoing a substantive approach to storytelling, “The Flaming Planet” offers little value for Lost in Space fans of a serious disposition. That being said, the solemnness exemplified by Sobram—an otherwise forgettable antagonist—should be commended.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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