Lost in Space Episode 1: The Reluctant Stowaway

General Information

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

 

Overview

In the year 1997, the scientifically accomplished Robinson family—led by Professor John Robinson and his wife Maureen—and Space Corps pilot lost-in-space-the-reluctant-stowawayMajor 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.

 

Pros

Establishing the family values that would eventually define the Lost in Space franchise, “The Reluctant Stowaway” provides a poignant and compelling introduction lost-in-space-the-reluctant-stowawayto 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.

 

Cons

None.

 

Analysis

lost-in-space-the-reluctant-stowawayOperating 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.

 

Concluding Comments

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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6 thoughts on “Lost in Space Episode 1: The Reluctant Stowaway

  1. Did you read the LIS comics published by Innovation in the 90’s? They were excellent. Perhaps the most brilliant move they did was to revisit the Aeolus 14 Umbra organization which ended up being decidedly not of Soviet origin!

  2. Watched this last night.

    Did anyone notice that during the scene when Dr Smith is banging on the freezing tube with Major West inside, that the airlock has only one door closed which is the outside one. The inside one is open. Never saw that in space scenes in any other episode unless Im mistaken,

  3. I completely agree. A really good pilot and a really great show if it stayed on track. I do wonder how the series would have turned out if they had never included Smith as per the original pilot. The only flaw I could really find was the logic of sending just one family rather than a unrelated group of people or couples. I am sure that earth was going to send more later on but surely this was an expensive way of doing it?

    • The unaired pilot, “No Place to Hide,” offers an interesting glimpse at what a Smith-free Lost in Space might have looked like. I suspect that the show would have lacked an excessive camp factor in later episodes, but the human conflict might also have suffered without Smith to stir the pot every so often.