Director: Don Richardson
Writer: Robert Hamner
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, and Tommy Farrell
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 10/11/1967
Production #: 1508
Using an alien machine, Dr. Smith creates an army of cyborgs in his own image. Concerned that his friend will soon pass the point of no return, Will attempts to reason with Dr. Smith—with a horrifying outcome.
For employing science fiction to deliver an insightful cautionary tale, “Space Destructors” deserves praise from Lost in Space enthusiasts. It should be noted, however, that a primary aspect of Robert Hamner’s narrative concept (i.e., Dr. Smith replicas posing a legitimate challenge to the Robinson family) borders on the absurd.
Though quite ridiculous, the Dr. Smith robots are made terrifying by the work of John Chambers—a veteran make-up artist known for his contributions to Star Trek and Planet of the Apes. Specifically, the alien robots bear a creepy resemblance to Jonathan Harris, which, when coupled with their malevolent motives, will likely unnerve the audience on a subconscious level.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
While confronting Dr. Smith, Will becomes trapped in the robot-generating machine. Thereafter, Will (now mutilated by the device) declares his intention to speak for the so-called master mechanism—a disturbing, if temporary, predicament for the most likable character in Lost in Space to endure.
Similar to “Follow the Leader” from season one, “Space Destructors” should be commended for showcasing the remarkable fencing abilities of Guy Williams (known for starring in the original Zorro series). That being said, Professor Robinson manages to defeat a powerful cyborg army with swordsmanship alone—a somewhat hackneyed conclusion to this episode.
In the final scene, Professor Robinson prepares to banish Dr. Smith for his reprehensible actions. Despite initially defending himself with the usual excuses, Dr. Smith admits wrongdoing and accepts his punishment without protest, knowing that his antics will only further endanger those around him—a touching, heartfelt exchange which indicates that for all his vile behavior, Dr. Smith genuinely cares for the well-being of his host family.
“Space Destructors” is a flawed but worthwhile episode of Lost in Space. Especially impressive are the make-up effects featured in this offering, which add a surreal, uncanny-valley effect to Hamner’s premise.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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