Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lost In Space S1 Ep10: The Sky Is Falling

Pre-1970s FAB wear of the alien variety. There's something very groovy about those aliens. I'm digging those chains and the sweatband. The vintage sci-fi ray gun is nifty too.

Yikes! A terrifying Papier-mache beast on wheels! Run for your life!

Narrator, Dick Tufeld [the voice of Robot], is always splendid. The pseudo-serialized nature of Lost In Space continues where our story left off at the end of Season One, Episode 9, The Oasis, as a mechanical mouse-like robot probes Dr. Zachary Smith with its plastic arm. It's a rather small oddity, but its unassuming lack of ferocity is also unsettling complete with a strange accompanying sound effect. Fortunately, it is not an anal probe and Smith escapes and runs back to the Jupiter II. Overall, as Penny Robinson puts it, it doesn't look scary, but those sound effects complementing its persistence are quite unnerving. The mechanical monster rolls up the ramp of the Jupiter II dematerializing and rematerializing inside the Jupiter II. All are quite frightened.
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And we're afraid of this why? Maybe because it can teleport with those spiky balls in tow and rolls along to a weird Lost In Space soundtrack.
Here we are with Lost In Space, Season One, Episode 10, The Sky Is Falling. It is indeed a most bizarre, little, rolling robot. The robot ceases to be active and Professor Robinson takes it to the lab for study. You'd think one might be alarmed having it on board there only home away from home.
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Professor John Robinson explains the science behind the science fiction. The machine implemented "matter transfer" to get inside the ship. Smith recommends destroying the "monstrous thing at once" and bickering ensues between Smith and Major Don West. As always Professor Robinson must intervene between the two like a father between bickering children. The family leaves the lab and the device reactivates.
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Now you see that yummy chocolate cake - and now you don't!
The family gathers for food supplied by the hydroponic garden. Maureen Robinson figures the thing "resembles a large bug." The family is about to carve up some chocolate cake when it suddenly disappears. Smith calls the creature a "cruel adversary," as only Harris can deliver. He was really looking forward to that chocolate cake and now it's gone. The family seems slightly unphased. You might think they would jump up and get that device off the ship before it disappears Will or Penny.
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Dang! Fiendish alien cake snatcher! Milk and no chocolate cake! Crumb crunchers!
For the kids at home, we are treated to John and Don adventuring outside of base camp with their snazzy looking ray guns. Very cool. They simply don't make ray guns like those anymore. John tells Don "it's obvious we're going to have visitors" so they are attempting to figure out where they might land. Now, how exactly on Earth, or at least on this planet, would they ascertain or even deduce visitors will be coming. What evidence would suggest that is going to happen? I mean it defies logic. How would you come to such a conclusion based upon the simple existence of a strange robot or as Will likes to call them - robutt? Why couldn't the lifeform that created the robot already be on the planet as an example? Of course, it wouldn't lead to Robinson family fun and discovery or the guest [or monster] of the week.
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Meanwhile, on Will's travels a spaceship appears with a man bedecked like a 1960s radical. The alien is played by Actor Don Matheson [Irwin Allen's Land Of The Giants]. My son wonders why the heck Will Robinson isn't running in fear. I explain that's simply not Will Robinson. The boy is damn near fearless. Will makes every effort to communicate with the alien, but with no success. Finally, Will turns tail and runs to his father. His Dad tells him from now on "stop, think and consult me." Yes, good idea. You should never talk to strangers especially on a planet far away with the possibility of aliens having extraordinary powers and the chance for alien abduction quite high. Will casually tells his Dad there's "a kinda man there and some scientific equipment." So cute. So funny. It does stand to reason the "kinda man" may not actually be a man so Will is accurate to call the man a "kinda man." At the site, John deduces the artefact is some kind of "matter transfer device." How exactly would you know that? Of course that would account for the beam of light that Will described he saw. The device is a "regenerator that reassembles the molecular structure." Everyone is curious if the "kinda man" is a friend or an enemy. We deal in black and white on the black and white Lost In Space for the kids at home. I actually enjoy analyzing things in black and white from time to time. It makes it easier on my simple, male mind. It's a lost joy really, everything is grey now. Issues or events are often ambiguous, free of distinction, free of accountability where right and wrong is an optional application enabled by excuses depending on one's perspective. It's really quite unfortunate, but this is the world we've created and our kids will inherit. Employing standards is still important to this particular Sci-Fi Fanatic.
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Greetings! I am sweat band man. Give me your hand in peace.
Smith asks Robot about the new visitors. Robot calls them "warm-blooded mammalians." Apparently the Robot has the capability of planet-scanning to determine how many visitors have arrived. That Robot is powerful when needed. John recommends, understandably, that they kill them with kindness. Smith begins formulating a plan to work with the alien arrivals complete with his own agenda. "One hand washing the other" says the Robot. Smith sends along the "mechanical crustacean" in the hopes of reaching out to their elusive visitors. The little robot mouse, clearly a kind of surface probe, leads Smith to the newcomers. They have set up their own impressive camp site with their own unique technology. There is a "kinda man" and a "kinda" woman there. Smith offers his services to the mute. The mute alien wants his gun, but Smith will not relinquish it so the alien's babe wife brings over her alien husband's gun. Smith runs off like a leetle girl. You know, there's not much that makes these aliens different, but credit to the writers for going with a kind of Twilight Zone approach. The fact the aliens don't speak a word makes them strange enough.
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This is the first official Lost In Space hot babe sighting! She's hot, fashionable and she doesn't speak a lick. This is my kind of alien babe! The kinda woman is played by Francoise Ruggieri, a former Miss Golden Globe [1969], for which she would not receive until after this episode.
Elsewhere, Will encounters an alien "kinda" boy. Back at camp the family engages for dinner outside the Jupiter II. No choclate cake. Smith returns to inform the family he has just visited the camp site of the enemy. Now, darkness has fallen and when Smith visited that site it was broad daylight. So either that camp site is very, very far away or we have your occasional Lost In Space continuity issue that tends to crop up from time to time on these always loveable, charming and simple Lost In Space journeys. Smith is suspicious many of their kind or kinda will arrive soon. Will doesn't understand because he had a sense that the boy he met liked him. Now, the boy never said a word and stared at him and ran away, but apparently that was enough positive reinforcement for Will. Those crazy kids.
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Great exchange alert:
Don: "Smith, have you ever in your life had a good thought?"
Smith: "Only a fool closes his eyes to the truth."

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Rest assured you are safe with me young Sweat Band Boy.
The next day Will encounters the alien child again. Sweat Band Boy is like the spitting image of his father. They play a game of alien space ball. Will sneezes his human germs and the boy faints in his arms. Ah, the old human-germs-affecting-the-aliens story. I always enjoy these tales and Lost In Space had to be one of the earliest. So Will's Operation Save Sweat Band Boy goes into full effect as he whisks him to a nearby cave to rest. Meanwhile, the Robinson family worries about Will, while the alien family remain silent on the issue and worry about their alien child in their own quiet way.
Out in the dark terrain of the planet Will cares for the sickened boy. The men from each family head out to search for their lost boys with ray guns in hand. The lesson here being no matter our differences we do have much in common no matter where we come from. Smith plans to destroy the alien family. The slippery, deceptive tongue of Smith goes into full effect as he plants the seeds of deceipt into the minds of Maureen and Judy Robinson. The possibility of Will's capture by the strange, alien family may be in play.
These angry Don moments are always worth the price of admission.

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The camera work was often interesting on Lost In Space.
Smith plants the seeds of fear where the Robinsons would prefer to find some good. There is a constant struggle between Smith and The Robinsons throughout the Lost In Space series. With nightfall upon them, both families postpone their searches.

Penny goes to her mother suspicious of the aliens thanks to Smith infecting her mind with his verbal poison. Penny and Judy are concerned and believe Smith may be right. Maureen suggests visiting the alien camp site. John worries about making the wrong move with all this "alien world, alien people, alien morality" stuff. Perhaps they have no morals, but this is a family show and the appearance of an alien family unit does not appear to be a red herring here. So, everyone stews about whether to go to the alien encampent or not. Bloody heck, what is the hold up!? Your kid is missing! Get going! We get a nice little nugget of wisdom from John. "It seems that youngsters from everywhere can get along, it's the adults that are always at each other's throats." Simple truth. Quite sad really. John and Don plan to visit the strange alien peoples at dawn.
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In the morning, John and Don wake Smith to join them on their journey. Smith protests as best he can, but loses. We get a brief Judy and Don arm touch moment. She wants to express her feelings for him, but pulls back. We can't have that in a family show now.

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At the site, the men square off. Don West really is a bad ass. John attempts to communicate with his alien counterpart. He drops his weapons to gain his trust. Nevertheless, Don and Smith are waiting in the wings with their groovy ray guns. The alien man's wife is doing the same. It's like a Mexican standoff. Smith is a bit edgy with an itchy trigger finger. He fires on the man's wife, because he's simply becoming the idiot over the sabateur. Regarding the wonderful guns that populate the entry, Lost In Space: The Ultimate Unauthorized Trivia Challenge For The Classic TV Series had this to say about their origins.
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"The first season laser pistol was not an original design, but was based instead on a toy made by REMCO called the "Okinawa Gun." Initially manufactured in the early to mid-1960s, the gun... lossely copied the Mattel G.I. Joe series."
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Don, looking very Quick Draw McGraw western here.
Fortunately the lost boys arrive in a nick of time to save these stupid adults from themselves. John gets the sickly alien boy. Don worries about the alien family's perception of the act. John extends his hand to the strange boy complete with funky neck medallion. The boy trusts in him and John carries him back to camp. He places him gently before the alien folk. They hug and love like us. The wife points at John to be shot by her husband. Will runs to protect his father, but is thrown to the side. Miraculously alien boy seems to be just fine and greets Earth boy Will. Men are pleased and peace is restored between them. Suddenly a beam of light appears and the aliens disappear. John tells Will his germs contaminated the air. Will says something about the antibiotics helping the boy. What antibiotics? We never saw antibiotics administered. Did we? Perhaps Will had the drugs on his person while in the cave.
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So the adventure comes to a bit of a fishizzle. I wouldn't call The Sky Is Falling the strongest entry, but my bar is so high sometimes I feel I'm not viewing it fairly. Like any episode of Lost In Space it certainly has its charms. The camera work and direction is truly terrific, but the script is a little soft. Still, it's a fantastic looking episode.
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Epilogue: "Never fear, Smith is here!" This is the first time we hear those official, words from the mouth of the cowardly Smith. Smith's calling card officially rears its ugly head in this tenth installment. Smith is asked to help on the Chariot and he causes more harm than good. The fuel pack is now leaking thanks to Smith throwing it on the ground. Don has to grab it for another explosive cliffhanger. Lost In Space loves its cliffhangers. For all the baited breath the scene generally results in our heroes getting off the dirt ground and dusting themselves off in the next entry, but heck ,in the interrim between episodes, we surely worried about these characters as kids.
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To Be Continued... Same Time, Same Blog!
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The Sky Is Falling: C+
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Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Barney Slater/ Herman Groves.
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Director Footnote: Sobey Martin [1909-1978]. This would be the second of thirteen [13] Lost In Space installments he directed. This comes on the heels of the absolutely classic The Hungry Sea. He is best known for his work on Irwin Allen's The Time Tunnel, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and Land Of The Giants.

19 comments:

John Kenneth Muir said...

SFF: I have absolutely zero memory of this particular Lost in Space episode for some reason, but your write-up is very, very funny. I really enjoyed this retrospective, and I agree with you on your general assessments of the series (beautifully-filmed, often inadequately written!). Great review.

best,
JKM

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks for swinging by John.

Yes, I know, I feel like I should be kinder to it, and the stories are certainly satisfactory on the whole, but never really good or great.

The chemistry of the cast and the beauty of the visuals certainly make it a worthy visit any time you're watching Lost In Space right? But the writing just is slightly undercooked.

Perhaps my 21st century eyes are jaded a touch. I'm trying to be fair, unbiased, but perhaps i should be adjusting for inflation. :)

Thanks so much. Good to hear from you.
SFF

crowmagnumman said...

Ah, another Lost in Space post! Yes, I'd agree that this is probably one of the somewhat weaker first season episodes. But I'm glad I watched it. I think of Lost in Space in kind of the same way I think of Star Trek. Even the bad episodes generally have a lot of redeeming qualities that make them worthwhile.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Amen C!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

you have very good pictures from Lost in Space in your blog. Have you also pictures from the episode "The promised planet" with Bartholomew?

Greets

Silvia

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Hi Silvia,

Thanks for saying so. Very nice of you to stop.

I definitely try and capture images of each episode I cover with the pictures that strike me as interesting, unique or memorable.

More Lost In Space to come....

all the best to you
sff

Bill said...

I really liked the first glimpse of the crab robot, of just its shadow. And I agree that the droning mechanical sound is what makes it scary. Here's a movie of my replica of it, but the cat isn't too scared of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddVSQ41dIPY&feature=plcp

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Ha! That's something I'll be sure to check out tonight. I can picture it already.

Love the sound effect!
Thanks Bill- SFF

Anonymous said...

Hey. Love your Lost In Space here. I think the Aliens in SKY IS FALLIN were called Taurons. Or something similar to that. And they ALL had names...but weren't spoken aloud since the Tauron's did't speak. I've read that they communicated by some type of weird electric language. You only hear it once...when the Tauron boy first meets Will, then leaves because of the sound.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thank you for taking time to write.
Thank you for your additional input to this classic series. It always adds to the mythology and legend that is this great series.

Thank you
sff

SpaceLove65 said...

I noticed a reader say he didn’t recall this episode. I vaguely remember it since it wasn’t often shown with the reruns. I remember the crab robot, but then the next episode would be something different. I like this episode. The name of the alien race are Taurons. Although not mentioned in the story they all have names. The adult male is named Rethso; his wife is named Moela; and their young son is named Lunon. Since the Taurons do not communicate through spoken words, we do not know their names. The Taurons DO communicate…but through a strange electronic language. You can only hear it once, and that’s when Will first comes across Lunon…then Lunon hears his family calling for him an leaves. Go back to that part, you’ll remember the strange sound. I also thought it odd that Will claims that the Robinson’s administered antibiotics to Lunon, but we never see this. Perhaps the episode was shot out of sequence…and the antibiotic scene was never shot. So there’s no consistency. But Irwin Allen didn’t worry too much about inconsistencies.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

No he certainly didn't sweat those small inconsistencies that sometimes ended up more noticeable than expected, but the stories, despite those minor things are generally terrific and fun.

Thanks for sharing. Readers who stumble upon this post will enjoy your comment immensely.

Best
sff

SpaceLove65 said...

I want to thank you for this wonderful site. I've read ALL your Lost In Space episodes that you have posted here. They are fantastic. Would you care if I reposted some at a Lost In Space site? You have done a phenomenal job here. I can't help but crack up occasionally at some of your musings. I didn't know somebody could dislike Dr. Smith as you do! LOL! But he is a dastardly fellow I have to admit! Thanks! And PLEASE keep posting more Lost In Space. I adore reading them. :)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Hello SpaceLove65,

Thanks and I'm glad you are enjoying them. I certainly approach these things with a passion like your own.

I don't mind at all if you share them at your site. Please keep me posted because I'd love to visit your site some time.

Also, I am overdue on Lost In Space, I need to take a good look at the next episode which actually looks very interesting.

Your posts have inspired me to get cracking.

Thank you
sff

SpaceLove65 said...

Awww! Only a C+?? I would have given it at the lowest a B+...perhaps an A-. I thought this one of the better episodes. Yeah...I've to admit, the paper-mache crap robot pretty much looked lame...but I liked the story it told. All the actors did a nice job....even if half of them didn't have to speak! Anyway, watch the "Great Plant Rebellion" with the talking carrot, then watch "Sky Is Falling." I only saw "SIF" maybe once as a kid...and loved it. Maybe I'm watching it through those same child-like eyes or something...cause I still love it! :)

SpaceLove65 said...

Thanks so much for being so kind. The other site is a LIS Wiki. I was surprised to see that not many people are members...despite LIS being a cult favorite. I've added some pictures from the net (and some of yours). And I've written a few synopsis (and added some of yours). However, synopsis are supposed to be unaffected by opinion...so I had to take those out. If you want to join...you'd have your own wall and put any opinion that you'd might like. Anyway, here is the address:
http://lostinspace.wikia.com/

SpaceLove65 said...

Hey! I just posted a review of "The Magic Mirror." I'll send you a link. It's just a review...and nothing as interesting as yours. The administrator prefers that a review is simply that...a review. There are pages there that we can state our opinions. I still haven't added pictures yet. That will be my next effort. Here is the link:
http://lostinspace.wikia.com/wiki/The_Magic_Mirror

ps-Feel free to use anything I wrote...change it...it's all good with me. :)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Ha. Yes, you're right. The key is watching these through the prism of yesterday.

My mistake initially was being too hard on the episodes by applying today's standards. I think I tended to do that sometimes. I'll be a little gentler to these classics.

But, grades aside, I love the episodes in general and sometimes those grades don't reflect their special quality in their own right.

Anyway, you are kind and I am glad you enjoy these reflections. I look forward to checking out that Wiki. It's doubtful I'll say anything there simply because I find it difficult to stay on top of things here on my own site.

But, again I will definitely have a look. The Magic Mirror was always a favorite along with The Hungry Sea.

SpaceLove65 said...

Please don't hesitate to use ANY of my synopsis, or pix for that matter. I'd be more than happy. Also feel free to change or leave out anything that you might wish. If you ever feel the need (and I know you're busy)try to feel is some of the empty episode synopsis there...and there ARE a lot. There'd be more if I hadn't used some of yours. I'm about to place some pictures in the gallery for "The Magic Mirror" - so if you wanna use anything...please do. I am constantly checking yours to see if you've added another Lost In Space title. :) I appreciate all the hard work you've done here.