Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, Mercedes McCambridge, and Sherry Jackson
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 3/30/1966
Production #: 8525
While burying a time capsule, Dr. Smith and the children are confronted by a werewolf. Tracing a row of footprints left behind by the creature, Will and Dr. Smith encounter a family consisting of Effra (Sherry Jackson), an attractive young woman; Keel, a lumbering, inarticulate space hillbilly; and matriarch Sybilla (Mercedes McCambridge), whose witchcraft allows her to grow a colony of deadly, carnivorous plants near the Jupiter 2. Refusing to heed the advice of Professor Robinson, Dr. Smith prepares to marry Sybilla and return to Earth in her space vehicle—with a humorous outcome.
“The Space Croppers” contains all the elements of a spooky Halloween special: werewolves, witches, and killer plants that multiply at an exponential rate. That being said, the horror tropes in this episode never coalesce in a logical manner.
Enamored of Major West, the space cropper played by Sherry Jackson (whom science fiction fans will recognize from Star Trek’s “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”) makes a number of aggressive, unwelcome advances at Don—much to the chagrin of Judy. In response, Major West appears to squirm, fidget, and contort his face as if to convey his extreme discomfort—arguably the only amusing or entertaining aspect of this episode.
Unconvincing even by the standards of a 1960s television program, the werewolf who attacks Will, Penny, and Dr. Smith may evoke snickering from the audience. (The title monster from Universal Studios’ The Wolf Man, on the other hand, maintains a terrifying presence nearly seventy-five years after his cinematic debut.)
Also problematic is the killer-plant theme, which, though potentially frightening, had been previously exhausted by Peter Packer and his fellow Lost in Space contributors. Specifically, the alien flora from “Welcome Stranger” and “Attack of the Monster Plants” present a more credible, ominous threat to the Robinson family than do the runaway crops featured in this installment.
An incoherent and poorly paced offering, “The Space Croppers” deserves its reputation as the worst entry in season one’s line-up of episodes. Therefore, fans of the sci-fi/horror crossover genre would be wise to avoid this effort.
Overall Quality: 2/10
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