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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 1/8/04

Lost in Space: The Complete First Season
1965-66 (2004) - CBS/20th Century Fox (Fox)

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Lost in Space: The Complete First Season Program Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/B-

Specs and Features
1,421 mins (29 episodes at approx. 49 mins each), NR, full frame (1.33:1), B&W, 7 SS/DL discs, 1 SS/SL disc, individual Nexpak "thin" cases with slip case, un-aired pilot episode (No Place to Hide), CBS Network Pitch featurette, program-themed menu screens, languages: English and Spanish (DD 1.0 mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

"Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!"

Back in the early Seventies, when I was young, foolish and still fond of footsie pajamas, an hour or two of afternoon TV was just what the doctor ordered after a tough day of pre-school or ruling the sidewalks on my Big Wheel. My feverish pre-pubescent mind was just starting to plug into the glorious wonders of television, which at my house at the time was still a little 15-inch box with rabbit ears and a click dial, that tuned in more B&W snow than programming. Still, if I squinted enough, and sat in just the right part of the room, there were a handful of classic Sci-Fi series that fueled my imagination every weekday afternoon. There was Star Trek, of course, The Adventures of Superman and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Later there was Space: 1999 and Battlestar Galactica. But arguably the most kitchy and fun of them all was the original Lost in Space.

You know, I almost said Far Out Space Nuts, Quark or Salvage 1 instead, but a guy's gotta draw a line somewhere.

To me, Lost in Space offered a look at the most awesome retro-future you could ask for. Creator Irwin Allen's vision of 1997 was of a world where your whole family could zip into silver suits and pile into the flying saucer for a quick jaunt to Alpha Centauri. Yeah, who didn't want to be in young Will Robinson's space boots, a certified ultra-genius with a trusty B-9 robot at your personal beck and call. Okay, so the flying saucer didn't actually work very well, and thanks to that rat bastard Dr. Smith the Robinson family never really quite got as far as Alpha Centauri. But still... a cool future nonetheless.

Led by the intrepid Professor John Robinson (played by Guy Williams of classic Zorro fame) and his charming wife Maureen (Lassie's June Lockhart), the Robinson family struggled to survive on all manner of backwater planets, against an onslaught of strange aliens and super-beings. Their trusty pilot, Major Don West, did his level best to help out (when he wasn't ogling the Prof's sex-pot daughter Judy), as did the B-9 (I had many a fantasy involving her when I was little - Judy, that is... not the B-9). Young Will (Billy Mumy) saved the day plenty and the other Robinson offspring, Penny, was... well, also there. But it was the scheming stowaway Dr. Smith who stole every episode, as played by Jonathan Harris in a role that would define his career. And now, at long last, all 29 of those first season episodes can be seen on DVD in all their sparkling, black and white glory.

Video-wise, you really couldn't ask for better from these DVDs. The episodes look better than you've probably ever seen them before, in their original B&W, full frame format. Contrast is fairly decent, and the film looks surprisingly clean. You won't see too many bits of dust and dirt, although they are there if you look. There's moderate grain visible, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the episode. But by and large, I'm pleased with the video quality of these discs.

The audio side of things is nothing special by modern TV or movie standards, but these episodes sound exactly as good as you'd hope (and exactly as mono as you remember them). You get 1.0 Dolby Digital from the center channel. Bam! The original English if you speak it, or dubbed Spanish for everyone else... who speaks Spanish. Anyway...

Sadly, you don't get a lot in the way of extras on these DVDs, but what you do get is pretty cool. Included on Disc Eight of the set is the original, un-aired pilot episode of Lost in Space, called No Place to Hide. It's similar in many respects to the first few shows that finally aired, except that there was no B-9 robot and no Dr. Smith. Yeah, I know. Can you imagine this show with no B-9 robot and no Dr. Smith? Well, it almost happened and here's the proof. You also get a short promotional featurette that CBS created back in the day to sell TV advertisers on the series. It's pretty hilarious actually. I would have loved it if Fox had tapped Billy Mumy to do an audio commentary or something, but the greedy little bastard probably wanted too much money. I'm kidding - I just made that up. I have no idea if they approached him, or how much money he might have wanted. I'm sure he's a really, really nice guy. After all, he wrote "Fishheads," didn't he? Can't be all bad. Anyway, maybe you guys at Fox could add that to a wish list for Lost in Space: The Complete Second Season.

What Gen-X male doesn't love Lost in Space? Seriously, if you're over the age of thirty and you have even one Star Trek DVD on your video shelf, you've gotta have Lost in Space too just for the nostalgia factor. Now if we could just get Far Out Space Nuts, Quark or Salvage 1 on DVD. Or Space Academy. Or Jason of Star Command. Or Ark II... Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea... Logan's Run... Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century. Damn, there's a LOT of old Sci-Fi TV shows left to mine for DVD, isn't there? Well, here's one down at least.

Bill Hunt
[email protected]

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