Peter Packer’s season two scripts for Lost in Space continue and extend the movement in a less adult-oriented direction for the series, already begun in the second half of season one. Despite that, only one episode written by Packer in the second season (“Mutiny in Space”) is clearly part of the number of episodes in the series’ second season characterised by over-the-top, out-and-out silliness.
“The Girl from the Green Dimension” is interesting because it is an example of one writer using a character created by a different writer. Athena the Lorelei originally featured in “Wild Adventure” by Allan Balter and William Read Woodfield near the beginning of season two. Packer is able to work the character’s somewhat one-dimensional fey personality into something that will sustain a whole story to the extent that she is an active participant in the plot and not a mere plot device.
“The Cave of the Wizards” and “The Colonists” are closest to Packer’s (and indeed the series’) original first season atmosphere. Both episodes are played seriously with minimal comedy (there is some in both), and both sustain the drama created by the initial crisis throughout the episodes until its resolution.
“The Phantom Family” is quite similar to these two episodes, but there is a much more sustained element of comedy punctuating the episode in the form of the Dr. Smith replica’s antics. It is somewhat redeemed by the pathos of the ending where Smith’s replica sacrifices itself to return the real Dr. Smith to the Robinsons.
“Blast Off into Space,” “The Ghost Planet,” and “The Dream Monster,” although not light-hearted or silly episodes in themselves all contain elements that strain the credulity of viewers without being a necessary addition to the plot. Nerim’s ‘elevator’ in “Blast Off,” powered by the user’s breath is one example, and the chattering miniature robots of Sesmar in “The Dream Monster” and the silly, shuffling androids in “The Ghost Planet” are others.
“The Dream Monster” is, however, noteworthy in that it gives fairly balanced screen time to most of the cast, and is not a bad episode overall. Similarly, despite the silliness of the female robot and her assistants in “The Ghost Planet,” the story is interesting and even tense at times.
Packer’s scripts seem to me to be among the better ones in the second season. His writing has moved on from the serious and even sombre stories of the first season, but he never descends to the outright camp that characterised some of the second season episodes.