January 4th, 2008

Lost In Space

I don't generally like Irwin Allen's work- the sets and special effects dominate and the people are ciphers- but I love Lost in Space. It's the Irwin Allen show that got away. It was meant to be the usual Allen thing about a bunch of dull people being bombarded by meteorites and attacked by men in rubber suits but supporting actor Jonathan Harris hijacked it (with Irwin's blessing) and twisted it into a camp, gaudy, relentlessly silly pantomime.  

It's not a good show. It really shouldn't work. It's all out of shape. The heroes have been elbowed to the side and  the comedy villain takes their place- flanked by a robot and a little boy- and gets to deal with people who jump out from behind the rocks of alien planets dressed as yetis and gunslingers and talking carrots. It ought to be insufferable, but somehow it works. It's not exactly art, but it's chemistry- great chemistry. If you tried to reproduce it you'd fall flat on your face. 

I used to watch reruns with the kids- a great bonding exercise. I was a deadbeat dad; the kids lived with their mother and I used to schlep over to Bolton on the bus every weekend and bring 'em home to stay with me over Saturday night. Emotionally stressful times. And Lost in Space (which was on after lunch on Sunday afternoons) was this little twinkling star amid the murk.