Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Jonathan Harris
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 12/1/1965
Production #: 8511
Redesigning the Jupiter 2’s reactor core, Professor Robinson and Major West create a vehicle for transporting two passengers to Earth. Complications arise when Dr. Smith and Will are accidentally trapped inside the capsule, resulting in an unexpected journey through space.
Though initially a serious and worthwhile offering, “The Raft” quickly descends into a campy, if not ridiculous, monster-of-the-week story involving Will and Dr. Smith. Lost in Space fans of a serious nature may, however, enjoy this episode for its poignant character exchanges.
Planning to pilot the reactor core back to Earth, Major West shares a touching moment with Maureen, who, speaking on behalf of her entire family, indicates that she, Will, Penny, Judy, and Professor Robinson all love and admire Don as if he were a blood relative. Unable to articulate her feelings in person, Judy later visits Major West in his quarters and presents him with a prerecorded tape containing a deeply personal message—interactions that will no doubt tug the heartstrings of sensitive viewers, especially those who appreciate Don’s implied romantic bond with Judy.
While traversing the desert, Will and Dr. Smith encounter an alien creature sporting giant, bulbous eyes and a coat consisting of seaweed-like fur. In addition to its laughable appearance, the “skunk cabbage” monster seems highly out of place in a dry and inhospitable climate—much in contrast to Uncle Angus (a similar antagonist featured in season two’s “The Astral Traveler”), who, being a seaweed creature, resides in the swamp of a 16th century castle.
Shifting focus from the Robinsons and Major West prior to the final act, “The Raft” dedicates the latter half of its running time to the misadventures of Will and Dr. Smith—a formula that the majority of Lost in Space episodes would later adopt, eventually abandoning the compelling family relationships, intriguing science fiction aspects, and camp-free atmosphere of the early season-one installments.
“The Raft” deserves criticism for its tonal inconsistencies and cringe-worthy production values. Series enthusiasts may nevertheless wish to view this episode, which, despite suffering from an unfocused narrative, establishes Major West as an honorary member of the Robinson family.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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