episode #68 - Collision of Planets

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episode #68 - Collision of Planets

Post  BoG on Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:40 pm

episode #68 / Air Date: 11/8/67 (episode #9 of 3rd season)
written by Peter Packer; Directed by Don Richardson

On Star Trek TOS, there was a now-famous episode called The Way to Eden, which spotlighted space hippies. Here we have the Lost in Space effort, which features space bikers. I have to say, the Lost in Space version manages to make a better go of it; the Star Trek episode went overboard on introducing silly futuristic slang, while the bikers here have a more naturalistic approach - they mainly refer to 'straights' like the Robinsons as "little master," a reference to the master who sent them to this planet.

Of course, there's also "old Master" - Smith - and "very little master" - Will; quite amusing. The bikers are the misfits of their world, wherever it is, sent to blow up the planet the Robinsons are on because it's on a collision course. If they succeed, they will finally be useful citizens (of course, if they don't succeed, it seems like they would be citizens without a world). Trouble is, the Robinsons need about a week to get ready for take off and the bikers plan to blow it up in a day. The bikers, mostly represented by the lead biker (Dan Travanti), are much like the bikers one would run into on the roads of Earth in the sixties (in movies, at least) - irreverent, obnoxious and lazy in their attitude.

Much of the entertainment in this episode stems from John & Don's confrontations with the bikers; John & Don are establishment, straight-arrow types while the bikers are completely the opposite. A 2nd plot twist involves (again) Smith; he breathes in some fumes from one of the containers parachuted in with the bikers and seems to expire; but, when he awakens, his hair has turned a longer green and he has gained an impressive physique - a space age Samson is now Smith! He acquires a louder voice and an even more arrogant attitude - because now he has the strength to back up his ego. There's even a scene later mimicking the legend of Delilah and this shows, as expected, that even with his new enormous strength, Smith will ever be the stumble-bum (also displayed in his physical confrontation with the bikers).

This episode has an easygoing charm as all the characters interact and play off of each other, as well as some action, with several fight scenes. I remember there was one stunning moment for me when I watched this as a kid: Smith is established as having super strength after his transformation and only he can carry a very heavy box, but then the lead biker also lifts the box, albeit with some effort; this showed me that certain aliens, though they look like humans, possess superior abilities, though I can't be sure of the director's intent. Such things were offset, after all, by much sillier moments, such as the box causing the earth to shake when dropped and Smith blowing away a boulder. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10

Lost in Space Trivia: actor Travanti plays against type here as an anarchic outlaw; he became famous for his role as a police captain in the eighties series Hill Street Blues. The planet here was named "Kromah" by the unseen "master" who sends the bikers;
Some estimates by the Robot in this episode: the fuel box weighs 515 lbs., give or take; Smith, after changing, acquires the strength of anywhere from 10 to 20 men.
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