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Wreck of the Robot

Barney Slater contributed one-third—10 out of 30—scripts for episodes in the second season of Lost in Space. Although several stories like “The Prisoners of Space” and “The Galaxy Gift” are almost superior offerings, both suffer from Slater’s generally weak endings (“The Galaxy Gift” admittedly less so).

The premises of many of Slater’s second season scripts are, if not far-fetched, at least the sources of continuity issues, or raise questions that are not answered. Among examples of such episodes are “Curse of Cousin Smith” and “The Mechanical Men.”

“The Wreck of the Robot” introduces the Saticons, who will reappear in “The Galaxy Gift.” Their eerie, almost dancing movements and their hypnotic voices add a great deal to the atmosphere of menace around them in both episodes.

Trip Through the Robot

“Trip Through the Robot” is one of Slater’s buddy adventures featuring Dr. Smith and Will trying to repair the Robot from inside (the Robot, with a rather unconvincing explanation, has grown to immense proportions). There is a genuine moment of suspense at the end as John and Don try to help Will get out of the now shrinking Robot, and a few thrilling close calls while Will and the others are inside the Robot. It is a fun episode (at least to nerdy kids), if not a great one.

Golden

“The Golden Man” and “Rocket to Earth” are less than stellar episodes. The former is the rather banal retelling of the morality tale that looks can be deceiving. Unfortunately, it shoots itself in the foot when at the end of the episode the ugly alien transforms himself into a handsome man so that Penny will remember him fondly (she does, to her credit, say it wasn’t necessary). “Rocket to Earth” features an inept and cruel magician seeking to make a comeback, and willing to sacrifice Dr. Smith and Will in the process. It is a very ill-paced episode; in fact, the episode ran short after filming, and Jonathan Harris and Al Lewis were asked to pad out a scene to add a few extra minutes. Their added “business” does nothing to advance the story, and is a bit aggravating to watch.

“The Deadly Games of Gamma 6” may rank as Slater’s single best contribution to season two. The story is almost a parody of Slater’s season one “The Challenge.” “Deadly Games,” however, features Dr. Smith rather than Will accepting a challenge that John Robinson had refused. In the end, John is forced to take action to save Smith, just as he took over Will’s rôle as a contestant in “The Challenge.”

Barney’s Slater’s work on season two was much more uneven than that in season one. He would return with only three stories in season three. While having a few high points, many of his scripts in the second season fail to live up to his own earlier high quality.

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