Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lost In Space S1 Ep9: The Oasis

The beautifully effective, foreign and lonely terrain surrounding the Jupiter II on Lost In Space. Science fiction today rarely look this genuine.

When we last left our dear family Robinson a boulder was befalling the heads of Norwegian beauty Marta Kristen as Judy Robinson and one Mark Goddard as Major Don West. Here we are with Lost In Space, Season One, Episode 9, The Oasis. There's nothing like waxing nostalgic with one of the many wonderful gems of this series. I couldn't help but have a bit of fun with this particular entry in the series.

Don's leg is caught wedged between some rocks and Professor John Robinson helps break him free. Dr. Zachary Smith, as could only be expected, is a late arrival. "Can I help?" he inquires. How Smith never got a laser shot between the eyes is a minor miracle.

Aboard the Jupiter II, John Robinson writes about their greatest issue, the conservation of water on this currently hot, arid planet. The temperatures run the gamut of extremes. Don and John comment about the lack of water. Don has the best line: "I wouldn't plan on putting a swimming pool in this season" or there's not enough water "to moisten a toothbrush." John calculates they have enough water for fourteen days. The tank is checked and it appears to be missing much more water than first indicated. There's actually enough water for just twenty four hours. Both men don't believe it could have evaporated that quickly. Where has the water gone? Could Smith be involved? No....
This guy is a beaut!
Sure enough, Dr. Smith is showering with The Robot's assistance. Good grief- he's such a team player. "I oughta kick you clear into orbit for taking a shower at a time like this." John and Don are rightfully pissed. Smith indicates he was losing precious bodily fluids. How this connects with the need for a shower remains a mystery. Their lives are hanging in the balance thanks to Smith misuse of resources.

Mrs. Maureen Robinson comes to Smith's defense indicating he may not have understood the gravity of their situation. "Thank you dear lady," appreciates Smith. The family will be looking for some water undergound.

Debbie's back! Where has that little alien monkey been? Will Robinson unintentionally gives Smith a few jabs about his age. Will's hysterical without trying to be hysterical. So Smith is too hot and tired to continue and abandons the family mission. The family stumbles upon a watering hole and big chunks of fruit float to the surface. Why exactly does the fruit float to the surface precisely when John Robinson touches the water? The family grabs a bunch for testing back at the ship. It would appear Debbie is disinterested in waiting and does a little sampling on the side as only a native, wild creature of the planet would do.

Great camera shot. The photography and camera work never fails.
Mrs. Robinson finds Dr. Smith outside of the ship eating all of the untested fruit. She tells Smith they could be poisonous. Smith is a true dimwit. He is a cowardly beast.

The family reckons all they can do is sit and wait for any symptoms that might appear on Smith. This would be, in my opinion, the episode that really launches Dr. Smith into full on coward mode. He is a blathering reject of a coward that is insulting to cowards.

It's interesting to see the shadow moving in the background in this shot. There are two moving.

The family looks for Smith. He is now missing. The family try to argue the situation and Judy acts as a devil's advocate of a sort. She wonders if she would have eaten the fruit. There is some good insight here into protocol and family training for their mission.

Judy Robinson is one fine, special Earth specimen.
Judy is really having trouble with her conscience. She feels guilty for not being kind to Smith. She's also looking rather perky in that tank top. Mrs. Robinson is the voice of reason. "I don't like to speak ill of him, but he wasn't always very likeable you know." It's kind of funny to see the family play into their guilt over Smith's absence. They speak of him like he's been gone for weeks. Everyone seems more than willing to make excuses and take the slimey, snake in the grass back. They all miss him. They are really pining away for him and miss his presence dearly. Crikey! He's just gone missing! I could see if it had been a few weeks maybe. For crying out loud he is the most untrusting dog too. It's written all over his face, but they seem willing to look the other way out of compassion. "Injustice collectors" is how Mrs. Robinson refers to Smith's personality type. Even Debbie misses the doublecrossing agent. All of this love for the guy and yet Smith is out and about plotting their demise. Oh the pain indeed. Go figure. Logic wasn't always a Lost In Space strongpoint of course.

The beautiful ladies of Lost In Space.

Anyway, Smith is busily recording his final words on a reel to reel. Future technology never looked so old or so good! UFO, Lost In Space and a host of others loved the reel to reel. It was certainly the operating mode of storage back in the day.

Don indicates one of the fuel cells is damaged in the water dispenser. Troubling times are ahead. The family needs to pray for rain if they are to survive.

Meanwhile Smith has passed out and night turns into bright, blistering day. As John, Don and Will look for Smith, it is Don who is the only sensible one of the bunch. Will indicates Smith may be dead at this point and Don replies [with the classic], "don't be surprised if I give over three loud cheers." That's cruel says Will. Don is the only one who knows Smith is not a team player and a treacherous fly in the ointment. John checks in with camp and asks Maureen to check the fruit culture. She reports there is "bacterial motion on the slide." There is clumping. This indicates the fruit is not safe to eat.

Debbie is transformed into another of Lost In Space's answers to the Japanese kaijin, a truly frightening man-in-suit beast.
Penny goes to the window and finds Debbie is growing as a result of the fruit. It turns out Debbie is growing hysterically into a man in a monkey suit. Terrible. So funny. I was dying. "At least she seems to be friendly," says Maureen. Really. Debbie looks kind of scary with that plastic mask. As always the cast plays it straight and delivers the drama. As a kid, this was truly bizarre, but horrifying stuff.

Our trio of male heroes happen upon Smith's reel to reel recording. Smith is very much alive. He is now a giant Smith. Lost In Space delivers its version of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Smith is so corrupt and nasty and evil toward the Robinson family that when the trio stumbles upon giant Smith the evil Doctor throws a tree at them. Can you believe Will actually missed this turkey? A laser gun might come in handy at this point. "He's as tall as three men and just as strong." Debbie is equally large, but playful according to Maureen. Have you ever heard of monkey's ripping people's hands and faces off? Yes, we have. I'll pass on the playfully friendly monkey thanks.

Anyway, welcome to the Land Of The Giants. Yes, another Irwin Allen classic in the making that scored with audiences from 1968-1970. Now, as if Smith has somehow transformed into a kind of raging animal beyond sheer height alone, Will rationalizes to his father he can reason with him. What kind of ferocious beast are we dealing with here? There's very little to suggest Smith has done anything more than grow into a very large whiner. Further, there's little evidence to suggest Will can reason with Smith. Professor Robinson has Smith in his laser sight. Hopefully Will can reason with their stowaway beast. I love when Will talks to Smith and Smith is simply looking straight ahead to talk with him. They didn't get the angles right for that scene. It's amusing as many juvenile moments in The Oasis are amusing.

Smith is truly pathetic and becomes increasingly so.
Will tells Smith the fruit he ate made him grow. Now, how exactly wouldn't Smith be aware that he grew to giant proportions? How can Smith not see that Will is as big as a Star Wars figure. I mean, he isn't even playing in the same reality for God's sake. Smith says the sun is toying with his vision. I think the fruit and the sun are toying with the man's mind. Smith grovels with tears further cementing my take on his transition to full, dastardly coward. He calls himself a freak and he's really got things right finally. He sneezes on the family and whips up a good wind. "What a fate," he cries. Smith is a pathetic victim, but he plays the part well.

Back at the Jupiter II, John reckons the pituitary gland is out of control for Smith. Maureen feels he is "a very lonely and frightened man right now." And that's different from the norm how? Maureen would like to see him.

Maureen approaches Smith and he sneezes some shmegma on her. At least when Bill Bixby turned into the Hulk his clothes tore off his body. The inexplicable fact of the matter is, Smith somehow retains his clothes in the growth process. How could the fruit affect non-living tissue? Now, we know the bacteria was growing and the fruit has an adverse affect on the body, but there is no explanation given how he could possibly retain his belt, boots, trousers and valore shirt without a single tear. All items have grown to massive proportions right along with him. The science just doesn't add up on Lost In Space and that's what makes it downright laughable, but deliciously good fun. So Maureen tells Smith he's the same as he always was. No different. She calls him a brave man. He laughs as we do at her attempts to placate him. He thinks only of himself and whines they'll be no bed big enough for him. He sneezes on her again and he figures he may have a cold. She tells him the sooner they get him back to the ship the better. Come again? How do you figure? The man is a disaster. Bringing him to the Jupiter II could be catastrophic, but okay.

Day turns to night and the man in the freaky-looking monkey suit and Smith are sneezing up a storm together. Beeezarre stuff indeed. So a rain storm arrives and our dear friends are shrunken back to normal size by the falling rain.

Debbie and Smith offer up sizable comic relief. He has made a full conversion to Lost In Space court jester with this particular entry.
At a glance it's not the most intimidating prop, but the accompanying sound effects would put the fear of God in you.
The epilogue finds Robot alerting Smith to the approach of a strange, alien object. It is strange indeed, but not strange enough to cower in fear and get the heck out of dodge. What is wrong with this pathetic man? The Oasis is certainly one of the campier moments from Lost In Space Season One. This is not one of writer Peter Packer's finer moments especially considering he handled chores on Lost In Space, Episode 6, Welcome Stranger. The Oasis looks pretty, but up close this is one of Season One's weaker retreats.

TO BE CONTINUED... Same Time, Same BLOG!

The Oasis: C-
Director: Sutton Roley
Writer: Peter Packer


crowmagnumman said...

Yeah, definitely one of the weaker season 2 episodes. The parts with the giant Smith are really silly. But I gotta hand it to Jonathan Harris for making the episode fun to watch anyway.

SFF said...

Hey C! I agree. Harris, and actually the cast as a whole, always elevate even the sometimes weak material. It's true.