Director: Tony Leader
Writer: S. Bar-David
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Jonathan Harris
Composer: Johnny Williams
Air Date: 9/15/1965
Production #: 8501
In the year 1997, the scientifically accomplished Robinson family—led by Professor John Robinson and his wife Maureen—and Space Corps pilot Major Donald West embark on a five-and-a-half year journey to Alpha Centauri. Hoping to undermine the Robinsons’ historic mission, a saboteur known as Colonel Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris) sneaks aboard the Jupiter 2 and reprograms the environmental control robot—with a terrible twist.
“The Reluctant Stowaway” deserves praise for combining space exploration with disaster-themed tropes. This effort also benefits from the performance of Jonathan Harris, who, unlike in later episodes, offers a diabolical and camp-free portrayal of “Colonel” Smith.
Establishing the family values that would eventually define the Lost in Space franchise, “The Reluctant Stowaway” provides a poignant and compelling introduction to the main characters. Prior to leaving Earth, for example, the Robinsons engage in a genuine display of love, respect, and compassion for one another—an aspect that allows the viewer to sympathize with the protagonists, who remain loyal and close-knit despite facing many challenges in the future.
Similarly worth noting is the villainous character of Zachary Smith, who embodies the cunning, menace, and deceit of a clever saboteur—much in contrast to his goofy, watered-down counterpart from seasons two and three.
Operating under orders from a foreign agency (Aeolus 14 Umbra) and assuming the identity of a distinguished military figure, Zachary Smith has all the makings of a Soviet Spy—likely a subtle commentary on the so-called Space Race and its profound impact on the Cold War.
Highlighting family values in a futuristic setting, “The Reluctant Stowaway” earns its status as the quintessential Lost in Space episode. Fans of Space Age science fiction in particular may enjoy this offering, which contains a variety of advanced technological marvels (e.g., freezing tubes, a flying saucer, and an autonomous robot).
Overall Quality: 10/10
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