Director: Ezra Stone
Writer: Peter Packer
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Alan Hewitt
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 3/29/1967
Production #: 9528
When John and Maureen depart from the Jupiter 2, alien scientist Lemnoc (Alan Hewitt) kidnaps Judy, Penny, Major West, and Dr. Smith before replacing them with android duplicates. At the urging of Will, Lemnoc agrees to release the imprisoned humans under one condition: Will must teach the duplicates to emulate the behavior of their flesh-and-blood counterparts.
Similar to “The Dream Monster” from earlier in season two, “The Phantom Family” offers a unique and fascinating twist on the mad scientist trope. Worth praising in particular is the haunting atmosphere of this episode, which will appeal to fans of serious science fiction.
Upon returning to the Jupiter 2, Will attempts to engage the cloned versions of Don, Penny, and Judy in conversation. Unable to function like normal human beings, the duplicates maintain their blank expressions and remain silent in response to Will’s questioning—a surreal and chilling display, especially due to the fitting use of Klaatu’s theme (Bernard Herrmann’s eerie composition from The Day the Earth Stood Still).
By behaving in a clumsy and ridiculous manner, the creations of Lemnoc occasionally undermine the dark, mysterious tone of this episode. For example, the Dr. Smith android repeatedly forgets his name and acts like a buffoon during training sessions—a campy, juvenile addition to an otherwise thought-provoking story.
Also problematic is the fact that Will, supposedly a highly intelligent young man, fails to uncover the truth about Lemnoc’s duplicates—whom even casual Lost in Space viewers could identify as imposters—without assistance from the Robot.
“The Phantom Family” is a spooky, unnerving episode that benefits from a poignant twist in the climactic scene. There are times, however, when the antics of Dr. Smith (in android form) detract from the solemn atmosphere of this offering.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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