Director: Seymour Robbie
Writer: Barney Slater
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Jonathan Harris
Composer: Alexander Courage
Air Date: 4/5/1967
Production #: 9523
Threatened with invasion, the Robinsons must deliver the Robot B-9 to a group of diminutive, menacing robots. Unimpressed with their new leader, the mechanical men perform a personality transfer involving Dr. Smith and the Robot.
A promotional piece for Remco’s Robot B-9 toys, “The Mechanical Men” may provide nostalgic value for collectors of 1960s movie models and replicas. Modern audiences, in contrast, will likely take issue with the illogical premise for Barney Slater’s narrative.
The final act contains a riveting battle between the Robinsons and the mechanical men, showcasing the brave attributes of Will, Major West, Professor Robinson, and a now heroic Dr. Smith. (That being said, viewers may laugh at the concept of Don and John using high-power laser rifles to blast away an army of adorable, unimposing robots.)
When the mechanical men kidnap Dr. Smith and offer to trade him for the Robot, the Robinson family agrees to the exchange without first considering every possible alternative—a disappointing reaction from the Robinsons, who often demonstrate fortitude, loyalty, and ingenuity in the face of adversity.
This episode may also evoke criticism for its excessive camp value. For example, the monotonous voice of Dick Tufeld is dubbed over Jonathan Harris’ dialogue after the mechanical men, unsatisfied with the Robot, decide to swap his personality with that of Dr. Smith—one of the most cringe-worthy plot devices ever featured in Lost in Space.
When confronted with the loss of their beloved Robot, the Robinsons fail to resist the mechanical men—a response that appears to contradict the events of prior episodes, where the main characters treat the Robot like a member of the family.
For providing Professor Robinson and Major West—two underutilized characters—with pivotal roles in the climactic scene, “The Mechanical Men” deserves praise from Lost in Space enthusiasts. Nevertheless, this episode is marred by juvenile humor and silly conflict.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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