Lost in Space Episode 36: The Android Machine

General Information

Director: Don Richardson

Writers: Bob and Wanda Duncan

Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, Dee Hartford, Tiger Joe Marsh, and Fritz Feld

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 10/26/1966

Production #: 9507

 

Overview

Encountering a mechanical catalogue, Dr. Smith purchases a female android known as Verda (Dee Hartford). Despite forming an attachment to Verda, Penny and her lost-in-space-the-android-machinefamily face a terrible predicament when Mr. Zumdish (Fritz Feld)—manager of the Celestial Department Store—arrives at the Jupiter 2 demanding payment for the android.

“The Android Machine” is a cute and emotionally stirring episode of Lost in Space. Nevertheless, science fiction fans may criticize this entry for its campy humor and juvenile antics.

 

Pros

lost-in-space-the-android-machineBy exhibiting a childlike curiosity toward her surroundings, Verda comes across as a likable, if eccentric, nonhuman character—similar to Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Also worth praising are the actions of Judy and Penny, who, unlike Dr. Smith, recognize and cultivate Verda’s potential for personal growth.

 

Cons

While learning to emulate human behavior, Verda takes a number of missteps that result in pain, discomfort, and embarrassment for Dr. Smith—a runninglost-in-space-the-android-machine gag that wears out its welcome rather quickly.

In addition to its groan-inducing slapstick, “The Android Machine” fails to present the cave monster in a terrifying manner. Instead of sporting razor-sharp claws and blood-soaked fangs, for example, the creature in this episode bears a strong resemblance to Gumby of claymation fame—hardly an appropriate visage for a fearsome alien monster.

 

Analysis

lost-in-space-the-android-machineOver time, Verda comes to embrace the human side of her personality—a poignant character transition explored further in “Revolt of the Androids.”

 

Concluding Comments

Emphasizing Penny’s friendship with Verda (a parallel to Will’s connection with the Robot), “The Android Machine” will appeal to viewers of a sensitive nature. This episode does, however, suffer from the antics of Dr. Smith and Mr. Zumdish—modeled after a stereotypical department store clerk of the 1960s.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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3 thoughts on “Lost in Space Episode 36: The Android Machine

  1. This is my number ten ranked episode for the classic down home, cozy and fun, colored mid season..my second favorite season of the series, despite its much maligned and unwarranted status.. :-]

  2. I always consider this one to be a point where the humor meter goes to a significant higher degree for the first time..which is not bad at all. In fact, I enjoy and appreciate the humorous aspects of the series. It is only the episodes that try to combine both humor and taking themselves too seriously that I do not like well. See the later series episodes for that.

    Anyway, this is another top ten episode on the season. It is warm and it is fun. Of course, we have great guest characters here that will all return in future episodes..

  3. One of my favorite episodes, for me the ideal combination of science fiction themes, family entertainment, and the popular camp humor of the time coming together. Dee Hartford’s performance is really amazing, considering that scenes are shot out of order, her character growth arc (becoming more “human”) is absolutely perfect.