About Christmas TV History

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lost in Space Christmas (1965)

Merry Christmas in July!  This whole month we're celebrating our favorite science fiction Christmas entertainments.   What's your favorite SCI-FI Christmas story?  One of my own favorites is a show I grew up watching, Lost In Space.  This drama about the first family in space is one I still love watching.

The first season was filmed in black-and-white including this episode "Return from Outer Space."

In the 1965 episode "Return from Outer Space," Will Robinson disobeys his father’s order to stay clear of the alien machinery found on the family's current location, another desolate planet.  However, the young adventurous boy discovers that the machine is a Matter Transfer Unit capable of beaming him through space to return to planet Earth.

Will orders to Robot to stay by the Matter Transfer Unit to beam him back from Earth at a designated time.

Will's plan is to make the journey to Earth, contact Alpha Control at Cape Kennedy, and let them know the Robinson family's location so they can send out a rescue ship.  He also wants to get more Carbon Tetrachloride--a chemical used by the family to preserve their food.  Would you believe Dr. Smith wasted their only bottle of it?  The family will need more of the chemical if it is to survive the harsh living conditions of space.

"Beam me up, Scotty"--oh wait...that's a different 1960s TV show.

Defying his father, Will takes the dangerous and unpredictable journey back to Earth.  The young Robinson now finds himself in the small town of Hatfield Four Corners, Vermont--at Christmas time!

Vermont is having a white Christmas when Will beams down onto this rooftop.
And wouldn't ya know it, no one believes him when he claims he's a space traveler from another planet!  Not only will no one let him use their telephones to make a long distance phone call to Cape Kennedy--but he doesn't have any money to buy the easily acquired Carbon Tetrachloride at the local hardware store.  Frustratingly, the locals all assume Will to be a runaway and try to stick him in the county home for boys rather than help him with his mission.  No one will believe him when he says he's Will Robinson--a member of the first family in space!  Everyone remembers the celebrity Robinson family who rocketed into space last year.  Unfortunately, the public now assumes the Robinsons are dead, having been missing and LOST IN SPACE for so long!  What a dilemma.

Why doesn't anybody believe me?

Adding anxiety to this frustrating situation, Will is working on a deadline.  He has arranged for the Robot to beam him back at a specific time.  Young Will knows he has to be back on the rooftop where he beamed down at a certain time or he'll be stuck on Earth and separated from his family ten light years away, perhaps permanently.

Where's Will?  I don't know but when are we going to blow up this old broken down piece of space debris?

The audience sees Don and John, back on the alien planet, making plans to destroy the Matter Transfer Unit--a dangerous piece of equipment in their eyes.  They have no idea that Will has used to it beam himself to Earth.  And, they have no idea that Will is relying on the transfer unit to beam him back!  Argh...so MUCH drama.

I know. I'll re-program the Robot to void his memory so John and Don don't blame me for the missing Will Robinson.  Who cares if it means Will can never return to his family.  Oh, my delicate back.

If you've seen this show at all, you know Dr. Smith is in there, selfishly fouling things up, making life worse for everyone else.  We all love to hate Dr. Smith!  He's the reason the Robinsons are lost in space in the first place. 

Will checks out the Christmas decorations above the fireplace in Aunt Clara's home--see the phone (right) she won't let him use?
Where's the Christmas content?  Well, it's Christmas time in Vermont when Will beams back.  It's mostly seen in the background with holiday decorations and a Christmas tree in the home of Aunt Clara and Davey Sims who 'adopt' Will for Christmas.

Will with his pal Davey and Davey's Aunt Clara in front of the Christmas tree.
Though the Christmas elements in this story are sparse, this episode is still considered by many fans to be a holiday episode.  I've even seen this episode broadcast on TV during December marathons of other Christmas episodes. 

The family that gets lost together, stays together.

Does Will ever make it back to re-join his family?  Can he bring them back a bottle of Carbon Tetrachloride they so desperately need?  You'll have to watch it for yourself.  But this is only a first season episode--and you know there are two more seasons worth of stories so you figure it out.

I want a silver space suit too!

If you're a fan of '60s science fiction shows on television, then you may be interested to know that this  is only one of several Christmas episodes within Irwin Allen-produced series.  There's also the episode "Long Live the King" of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and "Night of Thrombeldinbar" from Land of the Giants.  Let us not forget Irwin Allen's theatrical release disaster film, 1972's The Poseidon Adventure also takes place at holiday time.  Merry SCI-FI Christmas in July.

1 comment:

  1. Pity Will couldn't use the Internet (it is 1997 after all) but alas, nobody has any idea what this Inter-nets thing is. Imagine that? That town looks more like it is straight out of the Great Depression, not the Great Recession.