If your only contact with the original series Lost In Space is the episodes available in syndication ala the Sci-Fi channel then you really don’t know Lost In Space. The first season was a lot different than the final two. The most noticeable difference is that the first season is in black and white. The stories are much less schlock and camp. More Star Trek than SpaceBalls. The cheesy rubber monsters are there, but the characters have a harsher edge to them.
As the season progressed through 29 episodes (Can you imagine having a 29 episode season!) the tone of the later series begins to come through. It became obvious by mid-season that the interplay of Will, Dr. Smith, and The Robot were what kept audiences tuning in each week. (A special note to the WB network. They are planning a new Lost In Space series next year which will have no Dr. Smith and maybe no B-9 Robot.) This DVD collection is a wonderful treat for fans who have not had the opportunity to see these episodes uncut for almost 40 years.
Purists out there will appreciate the original mono track. I like when they at least offer a stereo mix better suited to my modern system. The audio is pretty much what you might expect. Not much dynamic range, but the dialogue is clearly intact. All in all the sound is about as good as it has ever been considering the age. You’ll experience a fair amount of high-end distortion during loud clashes, but the mix handles most of the sounds adequately.
You would expect a television series of this age to be full frame, and that’s what you’ll get here. The episodes are also in black and white. There are certainly some scratches and other specks, but overall the prints are pretty clean. Once again one must consider the show’s age. The contrast is fine and black levels are adequate. I would say these episodes look as good as they ever had. Fans should not be disappointed.
The best feature by far is the original unaired pilot. Much of this footage was later used in the aired pilot as well as a couple of the first season’s episodes, particularly the Cyclops encounters. Irwin Allen was never one to let good footage go to waste. The big difference is the notable absence of Dr. Smith and The Robot. Most fans will agree the changes were for the better. Also included is a 5-minute promo that CBS used to sell its affiliates on the show is a bit amusing. I hope that more extras can be found and included with seasons 2 and 3.
In my opinion a Lost In Space collection was long overdue. Irwin Allen might be most known for his 1970’s disaster films like the Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, but in the 1960’s he was King of Sci-Fi camp. Lost In Space was produced along with Land Of The Giants, The Time Tunnel, and Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea. They often shared sets, guest stars, and too often footage during their reign. Look at the music credits. Yes, that “Johnny” Williams is the kid who grew up to be John Williams, and if I have to tell you who he is, you’re at the wrong web site. The late Jonathan Harris provided us with one of the genre’s most endearing villains in television history. Dr. Smith is a true Sci-Fi icon. If you’ve waited as long as I have for this set then “Never fear. Smith is here”.
Special Features List
- CBS Network presentation
- Unaired pilot: “No Place to Hide”