After reviewing every episode of Lost in Space last summer, I thought it would be fun to create a list of personal favorites while my memory of the show is still fresh. Below are my rankings for the episodes that are, in my opinion, the best of all time.
10. The Derelict
It explores the inner dynamics of this tight-knit family on a more profound level. Don’s implied romance with Judy would also be alluded to for the first time. As would the meddlesome behavior that later became a defining attribute of Jonathan Harris’ character.
9. Trip through the Robot
It marks a return to the science fiction roots of season one. It is specifically by putting a clever spin on the concept that inspired Fantastic Voyage. The twist is that instead of traveling through a human body, Dr. Smith and Will take a trip inside the Robot B-9—now enlarged as a result of surrounding radioactivity—in a last-ditch effort to save the “life” of their dearest friend.
8. Return from Outer Space
The premise is simple: after tinkering with the matter transmitter unit left behind by the Taurons. Will travels back to Earth in order to replace the carbon tetrachloride that Dr. Smith selfishly wasted on himself. Unfortunately for the young tyke, no one believes his account of interstellar travel.
7. Wish upon a Star
This episode begins on a fairly benign note before gradually unfolding a more nightmarish scenario. At that point, the so-called Rubberoid makes a horrifying entrance. The striking contrast between the lighthearted fantasy of acts one and two and the almost surreal terror elicited by later scenes should demonstrate that, contrary to popular opinion, the Lost in Space creative team was more than capable of employing subtlety when necessary.
6. War of the Robots
Prior to this point in the series, the Robot was perceived as little more than a piece of equipment that the Robinsons felt entitled to do with as they pleased. In fact, some may wonder why the Robot wasn’t simply deactivated or destroyed outright after endangering his human companions in the inaugural five episodes.
5. My friend, Mr. Nobody
A fan-favorite, “My Friend, Mr. Nobody” gave Angela Cartwright a rare opportunity to showcase her delicate acting abilities. Later episodes such as “Princess of Space” and “A Day at the Zoo” would also allow Cartwright to expand her tragically underused Penny character; however, this one does so without relying upon the Will, Dr. Smith, and Robot trio to save the day. Rather, only Penny’s connection with her “imaginary friend” can spare the Robinsons from certain doom—a consequence of paying too much attention to Will at the expense of poor Penny.
4. The Reluctant Stowaway
Always one to initiate his series with a bang, Irwin Allen introduced the world to Lost in Space with the most exciting episode of all. Combining the action and disaster elements of “No Place to Hide”—the original series pilot that would remain unaired until a Sci-Fi Channel broadcasting in 1993—with the human conflict that only a conniving saboteur could provide, “The Reluctant Stowaway” set the ultimate standard for spacefaring fiction (at least until Star Trek debuted on television the following year).
3. The Keeper
The only two-part Lost in Space episode, “The Keeper” follows an intergalactic zookeeper (portrayed in a decidedly elegant and graceful manner by The Day the Earth Stood Still actor Michael Rennie) and his attempts to complement a vast collection of alien specimens with Will and Penny. As one can imagine, John and Maureen are less than willing to oblige their new guest, even when Dr. Smith’s idiotic behavior prevents the Keeper from controlling the assortment of rubber monsters contained in his spaceship.
2. The Anti matter Man
After years of playing second fiddle to Will, Dr. Smith, and the Robot, Guy Williams was at last given the opportunity to employ his wonderful acting abilities. It was in season three’s “The Anti-Matter Man.” Noteworthy for pitting Professor Robinson against his evil doppelgänger from an alternate dimension, this episode allowed Williams to challenge his limits by exemplifying a variety of malevolent and fearsome attributes—much in contrast to the upright nature of his “matter” universe character. A similar chance in ‘The Keeper’ was afforded to Mark Goddard, whose praise for “The Anti-Matter Man” stems from his delight in exploring a sinister side of Major West
1. Follow the Leader
Interestingly enough, the darkest Lost in Space episodes seem to earn the greatest amount of praise from fans and critics alike. Similar to “The Anti-Matter Man,” “Follow the Leader” required Williams to embody a more conflicted presence than what the role of Professor Robinson in ‘Follow The Leader’ typically allowed.