Director: Don Richardson
Writer: Barney Slater
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Al Lewis
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 2/15/1967
Production #: 9522
Planning an “explosive” publicity stunt, magician Zalto (Al Lewis) makes Dr. Smith enter a spaceship, fire rockets at a deserted asteroid, and spell out Zalto’s name in flaming letters. When Will traps himself in the ship with Dr. Smith, however, Zalto must reveal his true, sinister motive to the Robinson family.
“Rocket to Earth” benefits from a unique and amusing villain. That being said, Barney Slater’s narrative is marred by hackneyed dialogue, dubious science fiction, and an ambiguous message about deceiving others for personal gain.
Comedian Al Lewis (known for playing Sam “Grandpa” Dracula in The Munsters) deserves praise for his portrayal of Zalto, whose shenanigans serve to complement the campy tone of this episode. Especially worth noting are Zalto’s failed attempts to harness the power of magic, which, perhaps intentionally, resemble the antics of Lewis’ iconic Grandpa character.
While bidding farewell to Dr. Smith, Will and the Robot share a heartfelt exchange with their longtime companion. Though quite touching, the parting sequence in “Rocket to Earth” is overshadowed by a similar display in the following episode, where Will says goodbye to Dr. Smith and the Robot for supposedly the last time.
Upon learning that Will and Dr. Smith will soon arrive on Earth, Maureen responds with the statement, “Dear, I do hope it isn’t too cold; you know, he wasn’t very warmly dressed”—arguably the most cringe-inducing line in the entire series.
By using Zalto’s spaceship under false pretenses, Dr. Smith manages to survive a deadly advertising gimmick—a morally questionable scenario, which indicates that lying and stealing from people can lead to rewarding outcomes.
Combining the talents of Lewis—a vaudeville performer—with those of Jonathan Harris, “Rocket to Earth” will appeal to Lost in Space fans. Nevertheless, viewers of a serious nature might wish to avoid this effort.
Overall Quality: 3/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.