Director: Alvin Ganzer
Writer: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Warren Oates
Composer: Herman Stein
Air Date: 10/20/1965
Production #: 8506
Arriving on Priplanus in a ship known as Travelin’ Man, space cowboy Jimmy Hapgood (Warren Oates) introduces himself to the Robinson family. While Dr. Smith bargains with Hapgood for a passage to Earth, John and Maureen make a difficult decision concerning Will and Penny.
Featuring a guest appearance from Warren Oates, “Welcome Stranger” will likely appeal to fans of the sci-fi/Western crossover genre. This episode may, however, evoke criticism for its campy sequences and logical inconsistencies.
Though ill-suited for an early Lost in Space episode, the character of Hapgood exemplifies the Southern charm, fondness for telling stories, and thirst for adventure that one would expect of an old-fashioned cowboy. Many viewers will therefore admire Hapgood, who, in spite of his fiery temper and stubborn nature, forms a heartfelt bond with each member of the Robinson family—especially Will and Penny.
While engaging in fisticuffs with Hapgood, Major West is made to appear weak, poorly coordinated, and unable to throw punches with the precision of a competent fighter—a pitiful excuse for Hapgood to gain the upper hand in his scuffle with Don.
In another embarrassing sequence, Dr. Smith dons a pair of scrubs and performs surgery on the Robot. During the procedure, Hapgood inquires whether the Robot can feel pain from the operation—a ridiculous and cringe-worthy display, at least by the standards of a season-one Lost in Space entry.
By choosing to send Penny and Will back to Earth when the opportunity arises, John and Maureen demonstrate a love and concern for their children that many parents would be wise to emulate. (Nevertheless, viewers may question why the Robinsons decide to entrust Will and Penny to a near stranger.)
Combining Western tropes with a science fiction premise, “Welcome Stranger” is a unique and memorable episode. That being said, this offering should be noted for introducing a high camp factor into Lost in Space—previously a dark, serious, and compelling space adventure program.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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