20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Jonathan Harris, Billy Mumy
Extras: 1966 radio interviews with Guy Williams, June Lockhart and Jonathan Harris
Even among its ardent fans and casual detractors, everyone agrees that when ’Lost In Space’ went to color in its second season, the series’ transformation from straightforward action-adventure to out-and-out camp fest was complete. Amid day-glo reds, oranges, blues and greens, the continuing saga of the spaceship-wrecked Robinsons turned into weekly juvenile installments of the ’Will, Robot & Dr. Smith’ show. Whereas the first season made some attempt at reasonably serious melodrama, the second season devolved into 1960s’ pop-kitsch a la ’Batman.’
However, on a personal note, Season 2 contains probably the truest emotional moment of the entire series. In ’The Questing Beast’ (on disc One), Will encounters a medieval knight (!) chasing a walking, talking dragon. When the knight proves a phony, Will enters a deep funk, questioning the nature of heroism. When Dr. Smith cannot shake the boy out of his pessimistic mindset, Dr Smith tells Will ’Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. It’s not worth it.’ Jonathan Harris’ delivery of that line gave Dr. Smith a truly human dimension, as if Dr. Smith saw his own moral crossroads in Will…wishing someone had given him that advice.
Fox Home Entertainment continues the release of the entire ’Lost In Space’ series on DVD with ’Season 2, Volume 2.’ Unlike the Season 1 DVD release (spanning 29 episodes over 8 discs), LIS Season 2 (and Season 3 for next year) have been split into two DVD sets of four discs each. Price-wise, there’s no difference, so for ’LIS’ completists, it’ll cost the same. The full-frame transfers look marvelous. Colors read solid and clean with no break-up or smearing. Details read sharp and clear, noticing everything from the Robot’s multi-colored lighted buttons on the front plate to the really bad alien makeups. (Again, even though the series was originated on 35mm film, Mr. Allen and company probably never dreamed that these shows would be seen on anything but low-res TV sets.) For the most part, the source prints are clean and free of blemishes.
The Dolby Digital mono performs on par for its age, with limited dynamic range on the minus side and legible dialogue in the plus column. Music and sound effects are well-balanced. However, I found it better to listen to the audio in two-channel mono rather than just the center channel. French and Spanish language tracks are also available.
Extras are sparse, just two radio interviews from 1966 with June Lockhart, Guy Williams and, separately, Jonathan Harris. Both run about eight minutes and come off like pre-produced publicity department sound bites. Most of the time, the interviewer asks leading questions – like the show’s use of color — just to elicit a corroborating response from Guy, June or Jonathan. Mr. Harris’ interview does give some insights, talking about his ’precise diction’ and why he chose to turn Dr. Smith from sinister saboteur to comic foil.
Now, on to Season 3, with the ’countdown’ main credits sequence, snazzy John Williams theme music revamp and the greatest ’LIS’ episode ever: ’The Great Vegetable Rebellion!’