Saturday, May 28, 2011

No Place to Hide - Unaired Lost in Space Pilot (1965)

Lost in Space is a science fiction TV series created and produced by Irwin Allen, filmed by 20th Century Fox Television, and broadcast on CBS. The show ran for three seasons, with 82 episodes airing between September 15, 1965, and March 6, 1968. Their first TV season was filmed in black and white, but the rest of them were filmed in color. In 1998, a Lost in Space movie, based on the TV series, was released. Though the TV series concept centered on the Robinson family, many storylines focused primarily on Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), originally an utterly evil would-be killer who became a sympathetic anti-hero by the end of the first season, providing comic relief to the TV show (and causing most of the episodic conflict). The first appearance of the Robinson family was in a comic book published by Gold Key " The Space Family Robinson" December 1962[1] The TV series is an adaptation of the novel The Swiss Family Robinson. The astronaut family of Dr. John Robinson, accompanied by an air force pilot and also a robot, set out from an overpopulated Earth in the spaceship Jupiter 2 to visit a planet circling the star Alpha Centauri with hopes of colonizing it. Their mission in 1997 (the official launch date of the Jupiter 2 was October 16, 1997) is immediately sabotaged by Dr. Zachary Smith, who slips aboard their spaceship and reprograms the robot to destroy the ship and crew. Smith is trapped aboard, saving himself by prematurely reviving the crew from suspended animation. They save the ship, but consequent damage leaves them lost in space. Eventually they crash on an alien world, later identified as Priplanis, where they must survive a host of adventures. Smith (whom Allen originally intended to kill off) remains through the series as a source of comedic cowardice and villainy, exploiting the forgiving (or forgetful) nature of the Robinsons. At the start of the second season, the repaired Jupiter 2 launches again, but after two episodes the Robinsons crash on another planet and spend the season there. This replicated the feel of the first season, although by this time the focus of the series was more on humor than straight action/adventure. In the third season, the Robinson Family wasn't restricted to one world. The now mobile Jupiter-2 would travel to other worlds in an attempt to return to Earth or to settle on Alpha Centauri. The Space Pod was added as a means of transportation between the ship and planets. This season had a dramatically different opening credits sequence. Following the format of Allen's first TV series, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, fantasy-oriented adventure stories were emphasized. The show delivered a visual assault of special effects, explosions, monstrous aliens, spaceships, and exotic sets and costumes drenched in the bright, primary colors that were typical of early color television.

It is October 16, 1997 and the United States is proceeding towards the launch of one of history's great adventures: man's colonization of deep space. The Jupiter 2 (called Gemini 12 in the pilot episode), a futuristic saucer-shaped spaceship, stands on its launch pad undergoing final preparations. Its mission is to take a single family on a five-and-a-half-year journey (stated as 98 years in the pilot episode) to a planet of the nearby star Alpha Centauri (the pilot episode refers to the planet itself as Alpha Centauri), which space probes reveal possesses ideal conditions for human life. The Robinson family was selected from among two million volunteers for this mission. The family includes Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams), his wife, Maureen (June Lockhart), their children, Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Cartwright), and Will (Billy Mumy). They will be accompanied by their pilot, US Space Corp Major Donald West (Mark Goddard), who is trained to fly the ship in the unlikely event that its sophisticated automatic guidance system malfunctions. Other nations are racing the United States in the effort to colonize space, and they would stop at nothing, even sabotage, to stop the US effort. Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), a medical doctor and environmental control expert, is actually a foreign secret agent. He reprograms the Jupiter 2's B-9 environmental control robot (voiced by Dick Tufeld) to destroy critical systems on the spaceship eight hours after launch. Smith is trapped aboard at launch and his extra weight throws the Jupiter 2 off course, causing it to encounter a meteor storm. The robot's rampage causes the ship to become lost. The Robinsons are often placed in danger by Smith, whose self-centered actions and laziness endanger the family. In the second and third seasons, Smith's role assumes a less evil overtone – although he continues to display many character defects. In "The Time Merchant", Smith travels back in time to the day of the Jupiter 2 launch, with hope of changing his fate. He learns that without his weight altering the ship's course, it would be destroyed by an uncharted asteroid. In an act of redemption, Smith elects to re-board the ship, thus saving the Robinsons' lives.

No Place to Hide:
The un-aired Lost in Space pilot "No Place to Hide" kicked around underground video collectors' circles for close to 20 years, but until its release, first through Columbia House on tape in the late '90s and later as part of the FoxVideo DVD set Lost in Space: Season 1, it wasn't available to ordinary viewers. The first eight and a half minutes of the show are substantially the same as events in the first episode of the series, "The Reluctant Stowaway," but with two key differences: There is no Dr. Zachary Smith (and, hence, no "reluctant stowaway" -- so no saboteur), and there is no robot. There are also differences in the Robinson family's mission. Their ship, called the Gemini 12 rather than the Jupiter 2, will be traveling for 98 years, with the Robinson party in suspended animation, to Alpha Centauri. (Someone didn't do the math, as they're to be traveling for 98 years at virtually the speed of light, which would enough time to make several round trips to a star only 4.4 light-years away.) The plot changes substantially from what was used in the series at just under nine minutes into the story, as the ship encounters a circular swarm of meteors that leaves it critically damaged. The spaceship is next seen going into a low orbit around a planet and entering the atmosphere on automatic controls (with the family still in stasis) for a crash-landing. The plot then jumps ahead six months, to a recollection of events in Professor John Robinson's journal, read over a montage of space castaway life by Guy Williams. The Robinsons are seen living a spartan, but survivable, existence, and we see events that were ultimately used in episodes four and five of the series .

The castaways determine that the planet's orbit will result in a potentially lethal winter, and then discover a race of one-eyed giants, standing 50-feet tall and living in the mountains near where the ship crashed. Professor Robinson and Don West (Mark Goddard) are trapped in a cave by one of the creatures (Lamar Lundy), but are rescued when Will Robinson (Billy Mumy) arrives with a laser pistol. The travelers abandon their spaceship in the face of the coming deep freeze, and along their journey discover an ancient ruin with the mummified remains of something non-human before crossing the inland sea to safety. The latter segment contains a whirlpool scene -- the work of L.B. Abbott and Howard Lydecker -- that is still chilling. The program ends with the Robinsons setting up a new camp, not realizing that they are being observed and evaluated by a pair of aliens.

With the exception of the ending, all of this action will be familiar to longtime fans of the series from its usage in episodes one, four, and five, although some shots and scenes here run longer than they were in the finished program. Perhaps the best of these is the extended version of John Robinson's rocket-pack ride over the alien landscape in search of his missing daughter Penny, a scene set to Bernard Herrmann's hauntingly beautiful, yet moody, seascape music from Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. As John Williams had not yet been engaged to write the score for the episode (or a title theme), all of the music here is tracked in from Herrmann's scores from various 20th Century Fox feature films, including The Day the Earth Stood Still, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. Although less overtly suspenseful than what Williams would write, Herrmann's music gives all of this material a strangely beautiful, poetic quality -- perhaps not as suspenseful as the network wanted, but quite lovely in its way.
 ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

This is the unaired pilot to the lost in space Series, No Dr Smith and No robot.

55 MIN

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