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The Writers and Their Scripts: Carey Wilber

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Carey Wilber wrote six scripts for the first two seasons of Lost in Space, and received a co-writing credit with Shimon Wincelberg for a seventh. He created the character of Alonzo P. Tucker in “The Sky Pirate” and brought him back in “Treasure of the Lost Planet.” He is notable for two of the wildest episodes in the entire series: “A Visit to Hades” and “The Questing Beast.”

His Majesty Smith

Wilber wrote the additional dialogue and direction for “There Were Giants in the Earth.” Since much of the footage of the unaired pilot, written by Shimon Wincelberg (credited as S. Bar-David and co-written by Irwin Allen) was used "Giants" gives a writer credit to Wincelberg. Although Wilber cannot be credited with much creative input into the episode, given the constraints of working with so much supplied material, he still manages to produce a unified story with much to commend it. It is one of the best of the original first five episodes with lots of adventure in it.

“His Majesty Smith” was a typical first season episode, although with many scenes that were almost a foreshadowing of the campier second season. It showcased Dr. Smith in dual rôles (a ‘good’ android copy of himself and his normal craven self).

The Sky Pirate 2

“The Sky Pirate” and “Treasure of the Lost Planet” are both comparatively light-hearted episodes despite the several violent deaths in the latter (at which Will doesn’t seem to bat an eye). “The Sky Pirate,” however, presents several touching scenes between Tucker and Will which are lacking in “Treasure of the Lost Planet.” As Jackson Gillis developed Penny in his scripts, here Gillis may have deliberately presented an older and wiser Will in his second adventure with Tucker, one who was warier of emotional attachments after his earlier experience with Tucker.

“A Visit to Hades” and “The Questing Beast” can both be characterised as comedies with dramatic moments or moments of adventure. Neither has any element of sustained danger or menace in it. Morbus, an imprisoned revolutionary, is over the top—watch his scenes with Judy and his fight with Don. In “The Questing Beast” Wilber plays Penny and Will off against each other, having each one befriend one of the two aliens at odds with each other. Other than a similar (but not as developed) idea in “The Golden Man,” this is one of the few times we are presented with the contrasting characters of the two youngest Robinsons.

Astral2

“The Astral Traveller” definitely had some issues with internal consistency (not to mention plausibility) but was a good atmospheric episode nonetheless. It is almost unique in that it contains one of the very rare intimations of believable violence in the entire series when Dr. Smith is about to have his head chopped off. The only other comparable incident is in “Island in the Sky” where Don has Dr. Smith in a strangle hold and threatens to kill him. One suspects that network directives to down-play violence to some degree with the arrival of colour episodes was the reason for the beheading scene to be played almost comedically.

Overall, Carey Wilber’s scripts fall into two categories. His season one scripts were good, dramatic stories, often with quite winsome touches of the Robinsons’ personal lives. His later scripts were much more fanciful and took the show’s characters in a very different direction.

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