Los Angeles -- As you might have guest I have an aversion to old school Hollywood. Although technically entertainment today is far better than what it was then, advancing a great deal through the CGI special effects process, a true realm of controlled reality as well as fantasy, it has yet come with a steep price. And that price is the practical elimination of good story telling and character development. Not all productions fall into this neutral zone, but enough to make it the norm rather than the exception.
Irwin Allen the producer of disaster pictures like Earthquake, pre San Andreas, The Poseidon Adventure, and other catastrophic filmed entertainment was the king pin of adventure television in the 1960's. His four hallmark productions, today considered no less but classics were Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea, based on the movie of same name, Lost In Space, The Time Tunnel and Land of The Giants. There was one project, however, that did not get the green light, and that was City Under The Sea.
His uncanny sense of what viewers wanted and were willing to spend there evenings glued to the boob tube made him one of the most successful and sought after television producers of his time.
As the space program shifted into high gear Allan's team at 20th Century Fox, over on Motor Avenue and Pico Boulevard in West LA went into overdrive. Their answer to the sci-fi craze sweeping the nation was not Roddenbury's UN in outer space, Star Trek or as some would say at the time Wagon Train to the stars, the long running TV western, nor the surrealism of Serling's Twilight Zone, with its ironic surprise endings, but instead a family adventure for the entire family like Swiss Family Robinson.
As a matter of fact the surname of Robinson was the family name of the space family. The unaired episode had two characters not cast as of yet and possibly one of the reasons why CBS did not air the 1st pilot.
TV executives at the network after screening the 1 hour drama felt it needed a bit more of an edge. Enter Dr. Zachary Smith, played by the late character actor Jonathan Harris, as the villainous saboteur, who in the second pilot, The Reluctant Stowaway, attempts to destroy the Jupiter II by re programming the B-9 Robot to destroy the space vehicle once he departs the ship but instead of escaping he finds himself trapped inside the space vessel hurtling into the outreaches of uncharted space.
As background here is the Wikipedia spin on this now classic Sci-Fi that still has a warm fuzzy place in many of my generation's hearts and is also an excellent example of how to take a really way way out fantasy with improbable science and make it into a very real and entertaining venue by placing the value and emphasis not exclusively on the technology and effects as is today but rather instead on the plot, characters, and story development.
"No Place to Hide is the title of the 1965 pilot episode produced for CBS to promote the television series Lost in Space. The episode was directed by Irwin Allen. It was not broadcast for the first time until 1997, which is also the year of the fictional mission's liftoff.
The craft was initially called the Gemini 12, and postulated to undertake a century-long flight to Alpha Centauri. The passengers were stellar in scholastic accomplishment, the children prodigies. Don West was a doctor of geology, and John Robinson's title was also "Doctor". The pilot contained no irritating Dr. Smith, nor the robot, nor scary monsters,but is about the "happy family" adventures of the Robinsons.
The craft was damaged by a meteor swarm shortly after liftoff; the resulting damage sent the craft out of control and it was lost. The craft crashed on a habitable planet, and at some point after the crash, controlled regeneration awoke the six crewmembers. John Robinson was hopeful of a ship repair. After some weeks, they began to encounter problems of a serious nature that required them to abandon the spacecraft and hurry south to avoid a severe cold. After encountering a giant cyclops, discovering an abandoned castle in a cave, and proceeding with a perilous crossing of an inland sea... they reached a tropical sanctuary, where aliens observed them.
Unfortunately by the third Season Lost in Space evolved into a trio of characters as the main vehicle for the weekly episodic space adventure with the remaining cast members as window dressing to to speak. It became the Dr. Smith, Will, Robot show and possible the ultimate demise of the program as a result of the lack of creativity, sensitivity and vision of the writing team whose original concept was truly a family affair.
So here is the link to the original pilot, No Place To Hide.
You can read more about the backstory of Lost In Space on Wikipedia.
They sure don't make them that way anymore.
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