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Reviews

Lost in Space: The Derelict
(1965)
Episode 2, Season 1

Well done episode, good sets and special effects
In January 1965, the pilot episode, "No Place To Hide", was filmed, largely in the Mohave Desert. CBS network executives, as well as story editor Tony Wilson, thought that the series needed another cast member - - a 'troublemaker' character, who would create conflict and thus be the catalyst for new stories.

The character of Dr. Smith was thus created to be this troublemaker. And hey, as long as we're tinkering with the cast, let's add a cool- looking robot to the crew. It's a science-fiction show, after all, and every good sci-fi series ought to have a robot, shouldn't it?

Four of the first five episodes -- The Reluctant Stowaway, Island in the Sky, There Were Giants in the Earth, The Hungry Sea -- were created by intercutting footage from the original pilot episode with newly-filmed scenes featuring Dr. Smith and the robot.

But "The Derelict" is unusual in that it was written so as to take advantage of an existing film set from "Fantastic Voyage", a major motion picture that was being filmed at Twentieth Century Fox studios in mid-1965, at the same time that Lost In Space was being filmed at the same studio.

This is one of the finest examples of the cost-conscious nature of producer Irwin Allen. Some have called him 'cheap' -- and he was -- but it was a great idea to re-use the Brain Set from "Fantastic Voyage" as the interior of the derelict spacecraft. Under-lit and seen mostly in shadow, the Brain Set made for a wonderfully creepy set for this episode, and was probably a more-expensive set than this series would normally have been able to afford.

The Time Tunnel
(1966)

Squandered potential
This series had potential. A device that could send our heroes to any location in time and space. In theory, they could see the crucifixion of Christ, visit the grassy knoll, witness the assassination of Lincoln -- the story ideas could be endless.

But as the series progressed, we instead were treated to the same old low-budget Irwin Allen plot retreads involving silver-suited aliens. What a waste! Remember, Star Trek was a low-budget show too, and THEY managed to do much better shows.

The difference comes down the the show's producer. Star Trek's Gene Roddenberry wanted to use the science-fiction stories to comment on our current social problems. In contrast, Irwin Allen had a 5-year-old's interest in neato explosions, gee-whiz spaceships, and cool monster suits. It's a shame that a visionary like Roddenberry was not in charge of this show. It could have been so much better.

Life for Ruth
(1962)

Thoughtful film that presents all points of view with fairness
A father's religious beliefs are put to the test when he refuses a blood transfusion for his daughter on religious grounds, and the child dies as a result. The doctor who tried to save the girl's life charges the father with manslaughter.

This is a thought-provoking film that does not take the easy way out. It would be easy to make a scapegoat out of the father's religion, or absolve him of responsibility by taking a fatalistic view. To this film's credit, it does neither, but strives to present all points of view with fairness.

As topical, relevant, and fresh today as when it was made. Highly recommended.

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