Director: Alex Singer
Writer: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Jonathan Harris
Composer: Herman Stein
Air Date: 9/22/1965
Production #: 8502
After fixing the Jupiter 2’s NGS scanner, John and Maureen return to the ship with assistance from Major West. More trouble occurs, however, when the Robinsons locate a strange vessel in the nether regions of outer space.
Centering on the Robinsons’ first contact with an alien species, “The Derelict” deserves praise for its believable depiction of an extraterrestrial life form. Especially fascinating are the interior sequences aboard the derelict ship, which paint a vivid picture of advanced, albeit bizarre, technological achievement of a nonhuman origin.
A direct continuation of “The Reluctant Stowaway,” “The Derelict” maintains a tense and riveting atmosphere from beginning to end. Worth noting in particular are the disaster-themed scenarios featured throughout this episode: John and Maureen’s close encounter with a passing comet, Dr. Smith’s repeated tampering with the Robot, and Will’s botched communication with a so-called bubble creature.
“The Derelict” also benefits from a realistic portrayal of an alien civilization, which will intrigue fans of hard science fiction. Specifically, the bubble creatures communicate through electrical impulses, employ crystalline structures to navigate their space vehicle, and resemble giant boulders with asymmetrical bodies—much in contrast to the humanoid villains of many future Lost in Space episodes.
This offering may evoke criticism for its logical inconsistencies and scientific inaccuracies.
Further solidifying the strong relationships at the heart of Lost in Space, “The Derelict” should appeal to those of a sensitive nature. By abandoning the Jupiter 2 to “help” his father and Major West, for example, Will demonstrates a laudable concern for those around him. (Viewers may nevertheless take issue with Will’s disobedient behavior, which would become a common trope in later episodes.)
Containing human conflict, space exploration, and a fantastic voyage through an alien vessel, “The Derelict” is a classic installment of Lost in Space. Sci-fi/adventure buffs will therefore enjoy this episode, dated production values notwithstanding.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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