Director: Nathan Juran
Writer: Michael Fessier
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, Allan Melvin, Mickey Manners, and Ken Mayer
Composer: Robert Drasnin
Air Date: 11/30/1966
Production #: 9512
Hoping to evade capture, Zeno (Jonathan Harris)—a notorious criminal who resembles Dr. Smith—assumes the place of his doppelganger aboard the Jupiter 2. Intent on arresting Zeno, Enforcer Claudio (Allan Melvin) takes Dr. Smith into custody by mistake.
A cringe-inducing parody of the Western genre, “West of Mars” deserves its reputation as one of the worst Lost in Space episodes ever made. Exceptionally terrible is writer Michael Fessier’s portrayal of the Robinsons, who, for some inexplicable reason, appear unable to differentiate between Dr. Smith and a gravel-voiced, hot-tempered gunslinger.
Though potentially amusing in a silly way, Zeno often comes across as more disturbing than humorous. While operating under Dr. Smith’s identity, for example, Zeno makes a highly inappropriate pass on Judy—a bizarre, if not skin-crawling, gesture that serves only to undermine Zeno’s purpose as a comic relief character whom children can enjoy.
In addition to the horrifying behavior of Zeno, Enforcer Claudio should be criticized for his casual references to (legal) torture and death—comments that hamper the family-friendly atmosphere of this episode.
Despite being observant, intellectually gifted people, the Robinsons—including Will, surprisingly—struggle to recognize the real Dr. Smith as such. The majority of Lost in Space fans may therefore dislike “West of Mars,” which attempts comedy at the expense of a dignified and likable family.
“West of Mars” is a forgettable, poorly written excuse for an episode. For science fiction enthusiasts with a low tolerance for camp, this one should be avoided at all costs.
Overall Quality: 1/10
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