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Tony Grist

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Lost In Space [Jan. 4th, 2008|11:19 am]
Tony Grist
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.
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Comments:
From: bodhibird
2008-01-04 12:26 pm (UTC)
At the age of four I was a mad fan of Lost in Space. Little Billy Mumy was my first TV Boyfriend, and I think Dr. Smith hooked me forever on the virtues of snarky, campy men. I even had a robot like on the show! You must watch the show while holding the related toy--it's very important.

(I admit, though, when I tried to watch it again recently, it was just too dreadful. I gave up after four episodes, having seen the first time Dr. Smith says, "Oh the pain! the pain!")
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 01:51 pm (UTC)
Little Billy was cute. He was one of the presenters of the tribute show I watched last night- and he's still amazingly cute in a gawky, toothy, aw shucks kind of a way.
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From: bodhibird
2008-01-04 06:45 pm (UTC)
He *is* amazingly cute still (I have a lifelong weakness for redheads). He did a fine turn back in the '90s on Babylon 5, which I think is the best sci fi tv show ever--a really good drama, and he did good work in it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 08:27 pm (UTC)
I was a fan of Deep Space 9. The two shows seemed to inhabit the same territory and I figured there wasn't room in my life for both of them. Possibly I drew the short straw.

Maybe I'll catch up with Babylon 5 somewhere down the line.
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2008-01-04 01:58 pm (UTC)
I used to watch those Channel 4, Sunday postlunch showings. I had a huge crush on Dr Smith.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 02:23 pm (UTC)
Dr Smith is wonderful.

I Googled Jonathan Harris and found he died as recently as 2002.

In later years he mostly did cartoon voiceovers. It's a shame he never found another vehicle to showcase his talents as wonderfully as LIS did.
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2008-01-04 02:51 pm (UTC)
I'm glad bodhibird reminded me of 'Oh, the pain, the pain'. The way he said it used to make me go all tingly.
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[User Picture]From: internet_sampo
2008-01-04 02:40 pm (UTC)
I was a Lost in Space baby ... I was born at the right age to just be old enough to be able to watch (and comprehend) TV when LiS aired. When I was older (old enough to play with the other neighborhood kids) we would tell time in the afternoon by when certain syndicated shows would air ("I'll see you after Lost in Space but before Gilligan.").

All of this reminds me of my latest LiS experience:

About 7 or so years ago I was teaching at Urbana University. When Americans hear that, they think "University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign," a huge research school. But no. UU was a dirt broke liberal arts college in Urbana, Ohio. It was also a Swedenborgian college.

It was dirt broke. My office was in a dilapidated trailer parked out behind the parking lot. They literally would run out of money for chalk!

The library was a joke; it had no modern psychology journals expect for one (and I shudder to call it a psychology journal), The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (Swedenborgianins are in to psychic phenomena).

So, broke college. No resources. Right? So they should spend there money on important things, right?

However, one day I was in the video section of the library looking for a video I wanted to play for my class and what did I run across? Copies of the entire run of Lost in Space.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 03:00 pm (UTC)
Heh heh heh- sounds like they had their priorities right!

I wonder if someone had been teaching the show- or whether a kind-hearted alumnus had made the college a gift of it...

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[User Picture]From: internet_sampo
2008-01-04 03:52 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking the latter ...
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[User Picture]From: seaslug_of_doom
2008-01-05 09:41 am (UTC)
Boy, did I have the hots for Penny. Hey! At that time, for me, she was the mysterious older woman!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-05 10:08 am (UTC)
Angela Cartwright (I think that's her name) is still cute and looks remarkably like her younger self.

I always thought it was a shame she didn't get to do more on the show.
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-01-05 10:34 am (UTC)

emails & photos

Just a note to say that I sent photos to you and ailz' emails t'other day. Hope you are both feeling better. Guess you haven't seen them yet....?
Jenny
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-05 12:33 pm (UTC)

Re: emails & photos

Ach.

Thank you for the wake-up call!

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[User Picture]From: aerodrome1
2008-01-05 09:55 pm (UTC)
As a boy, I wanted the Lost In Space Robot as my best friend...or dad.

I certainly wanted to be the robot. Or Dr. Smith. I may have succeeded in being the good Doctor.
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