The Reluctant Stowaway is the first episode of Lost In Space that aired. If you count the unaired pilot, No Place to Hide, The Reluctant Stowaway is technically the second episode, but unlike the unaired pilot this episode has Dr. Zachary Smith and the Robot. (Thank goodness!)
** This summary contains spoilers, so if you haven't watched it, scroll down to the bottom of the page and watch The Reluctant Stowaway online at Hulu. **
The Robinson family was chosen for this mission from nearly 2 million volunteers for their unique blend of scientific achievement, emotional stability, and pioneer resourcefulness. They will spend 5 years in suspended animation and will be automatically revived when they reach their destination.
Countdown is delayed for a short time at zero minus 1 hour and 15 minutes because there was difficulty with the liquid oxygen loading valve. They also experience an electrical power failure in the computer at the lunar tracking station. That should've been their first clue that there'd be problems with this mission.
The Reluctant Stowaway is probably the strongest of the entire series, which I guess is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because the show started off strong and built a big following and a curse because, well, as great as many of the other episodes are, this is the episode against which all other episodes are compared. At least, it is for me.
Smith is at his darkest, most devious best in the first five episodes. I thoroughly enjoy this, although I also enjoy his transition to beloved, albeit troublesome, adopted member of the family later in the series. The show needed a villain to start and Jonathan Harris delivered that. As Harris often said in interviews, Dr. Zachary Smith simply could not remain the deep-dyed, snarling villain for long and have it work for the length of the series. It would get tiresome. Wishing to remain employed, he softened the character and made him a comedic villain. I loved all sides of the character, though I admit to a few eye rolls at some of the most campy moments. I do enjoy the clever competent colonel, doctor, cybernetics expert, excellent marksman, and all around “renaissance man” he started out as best. If they could have softened the character and kept those traits, it would have been perfect.
Another great thing about The Reluctant Stowaway is that, unlike many of the later episodes, everybody gets screen time. While I don't mind that the show mostly became centered around Smith, the Robot, and Will, there are fans who do. The Reluctant Stowaway is truly an ensemble episode. It establishes all the characters nicely, especially the loving bond between the Robinson family and their adaptability in the face of adversity.
The tag at the end of the episode that led into next week's adventure was another aspect of this episode and the entire series that I enjoyed. I don't recall that sort of thing being particularly common for the time.
The Reluctant Stowaway is the source of many debates among fans. Did Smith kill the guard or merely knock him unconscious? Did being exposed to the full engine thrust/radiation at liftoff without benefit of the protection of the freezing tubes cause a decline in Smith's competence? Did Smith have fellow saboteurs mucking with the liquid oxygen loading valve and computers at the lunar tracking station?
There is so much to love about this episode. That's why The Reluctant Stowaway is tied with All That Glitters for my favorite episode of the series.
|Guy Williams||Dr. John Robinson|
|June Lockhart||Maureen Robinson|
|Mark Goddard||Major Don West|
|Marta Kristen||Judy Robinson|
|Billy Mumy||Will Robinson|
|Angela Cartwright||Penny Robinson|
|Jonathan Harris||Dr. Zachary Smith|
|Bob May||The Robot (costume)|
|Dick Tufeld||The Robot (voice)/Narrator|
|Tom Allen||Inspector (uncredited)|
|Fred Crane||Alpha Control Technician (uncredited)|
|Don Forbes||TV Commentator (uncredited)|
|Brett Parker||Security Guard (uncredited)|
|Ford Rainey||The President (uncredited)|
|Hal Torey||General (uncredited)|
|Paul Zastupnevich||Bearded Foreign Correspondent (uncredited)|
Director: Anton Leader (as Tony Leader)
Writer(s): Shimon Wincelberg (as S. Bar-David), Irwin Allen
Producer: Irwin Allen
Associate Producer: Jerry Briskin
Original Music: John Williams
Cinematography: Gene Polito
Film Editing: Roland Gross
Art Direction: Robert Kinoshita, Jack Martin Smith
Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott, Sven Wickman
- It was expected that if the Jupiter 2 mission was successful, up to 10 million families a year would leave Earth to colonize the planet in the Alpha Centauri star system.
- A series of deep thrust telescopic probes established Alpha Centauri was the only star system that was within reach of our technology that had a planet with ideal conditions for human colonization.
- When Dr. Smith revives Major West, he removes his right glove. When West is at the navigation controls, his right hand is still ungloved, but during a close-up shot, his hands are both gloved.
Watch The Reluctant Stowaway Online
Watch Lost In Space The Reluctant Stowaway Online
Memorable Quotes from The Reluctant Stowaway
Narrator: This is the beginning. This is the day. You are watching the unfolding of one of histories great adventures – Man's colonization of space beyond the stars.
Maj. Don West: If you wake up and find me driving, you'll know you're in trouble.
The Robot: At exactly launch plus eight hours: inertial guidance system – destroy; radio transmitter – destroy; cabin pressure control system – destroy.
Will Robinson: Am I okay, doctor? Did I pass?
Dr. Zachary Smith: You'll do.
Dr. Zachary Smith: Aeolis 14 Umbra. Come in please. Do you read me? Mission accomplished. Mission accomplished. What do I do now? What clever instructions do you have for me now? How much more money are you going to pay me for this excursion? Aeolis 14 Umbra, do you know where I am? Do you know? DO YOU KNOW?!
Will Robinson: [to Dr. Smith] Well, Maj. West said that when he went to cadet school an excuse like yours wouldn't have gotten him out of Sunday chapel.
Maureen Robinson: Dr. Smith, is it possible that certain parts of the body don't reanimate as quickly as others? The heart, for instance?