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"The Reluctant Stowaway"

The reluctant stowaway titl.jpg

LiS episode
1x01 / 1st of 83 aired
Production #
First aired
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Written by
Directed by
Tony Leader
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This is the beginning. This is the day. You are watching the unfolding of one of history's great adventures - man's colonization of space - beyond the stars...


On October 16, 1997, the Robinson family launches into deep space to colonize a planet around the star Alpha Centauri. The Robinsons have been selected because of their mixture of intelligence, stability and pioneer resourcefulness. The Robinsons are: Professor John Robinson, Doctor Maureen Robinson, and their children Judy, Penny and Will. Also with them is the pilot, Major Donald West. They are equipped with the latest in cybernetic designs, a model B-9 Environmental Control robot.

Unknown to the Robinsons or Alpha Control, one of the team members, Colonel (Dr.) Zachary Smith, is in reality an operative for a terroristic entity called Aeolus 14 Umbra. He has been planted there to sabotage the Jupiter 2.

Several hours before the launch, Smith sneaks aboard and programs the robot to activate at launch plus eight hours and destroy several key systems of the spacecraft including life support, propulsion and guidance. Smith is caught on board by a guard, but catches him unawares with a sharp blow to the neck; the guard is dead, and Smith shoves him through a temporarily-open disposal hatch, where his body lands in a dumpster. Smith leaves the ship.

Minutes before launch, Smith boards with the Robinson family, and proceeds below to check on the Robot, seeing a technician working on it again, and then turning it off and stowing the power pack. After the tech advises him to hurry and climbs to the upper deck, Smith quickly sets to work (while the crew is entering their freezing tubes for their long sleep) to make sure the sabotage program is in effect. He attaches the power pack and then is about to climb up when he remembers to activate the robot ("Robot Power On"), and thus is too late as the hatches close in front of him.

Smith straps in below and the ship launches. Once well out of the Earth's atmosphere, he flips the Robot Power switch to in between off and on and then climbs to the upper deck; the robot leaves the pedestal to flip the switch to "on" - to avoid the damage an "incompleted circuit" would cause. Smith does not know the robot is back on.

Smith tries the radio and shorts out the panel, then the ship veers into a meteor field - Smith hears the incoming radio discussing an extra 200 pounds of weight aboard. He fires a laser at Don's freezing tube and it opens. Don tumbles out, Smith revives him, and Don steers the ship out of the meteor field, then awakens the family over Smith's objection. Maureen reacts badly to reanimation, and Smith attends to her.

As they discuss what to do (return to Earth or proceed - Don warns they are way off course), and Don notes it is nearly eight hours from lift-off, Smith notices the robot power is on, and goes to the lower deck and tries prying the power pack off. He trips over a corner, and just then, Don turns off the artificial gravity to repair a piece of equipment. As the gravity comes back on, Smith lands unceremoniously on the deck, and hurries to finally remove the power pack, just as it turns to precisely eight hours, but Will has come down and sees Smith doing the act. Smith contrives a story that Will has acquired a virus and quarantines him, then goes updeck to tell John and Maureen that they must return to Earth to deal with Will's illness.

Curious, Will reattaches the power pack, and the robot begins the rampage of destruction. Although Smith is hollering "abort" at the robot, nobody seems to pick up on that later, and only through the combined efforts of John, Don and Smith is the robot stopped. However, the damage to guidance causes the ship to go into hyperdrive, and it flies off into the unknown, rapidly leaving the tracking range of controllers on the Moon. The flight director notifies the president of the situation.

The Jupiter 2 wanders through space as Don tries to ascertain their location. He and John are sure the inertial guidance antenna, which is located on the hull over the upper deck, is damaged. Don feels he should do the EVA (NASA parlance for space walk) as he is qualified, but John says Don's place is with the ship; John goes out to fix it, but his relative inexperience with zero G has him stumbling and running into the ship, and then his line breaks. Maureen goes out to shoot a lifeline to John, but it misses him.

Background Information[]

  • There are a number of changes from the original pilot, No Place to Hide: (apart from the obvious adding Dr Smith and the Robot and making the spaceship a 2-story 'Jupiter 2') The mission would now take just 5 1/2 years- a marked improvement over the 99 specified in the pilot. Dick Tufield also over dubs a number of lines that were originally said by the announcer (Don Forbes). A number of scenes involving the Robinsons pre-boarding were added, and the Alpha Control facility receives another room- a medical examination center with an odd chair, which Dr Smith uses to examine Will before the voyage. The MPs seen in the original shots now carry the slender sliver laser rifle used throughout series 1 by Alpha Control's guards and the Robinsons. The pilot narration refers to the "Bermuda Tracking Station", where episode 1 refers to the "Lunar Tracking Station."
  • The computers operated by the Alpha Control staff were from the Burroughs Corporation - the "desktop" B-205 and the floor model B-220. The B-205 also appears on the flight control console of the Jupiter 2. The B-220 was the more powerful of these vacuum tube based machines - it could add two numbers in one ten thousandth of a second (0.1 milliseconds) and multiply two numbers in two thousandths of a second (2 millisecond).
  • According to designer Robert Kinoshita, Irwin Allen purchased from various local surplus stores used scientific and technical equipment for their instrument panels which were then used for the Jupiter 2 set. He didn't bother to have their lettering changed - this is because in many cases the printing was too small to be read on screen or any close-up wouldn't last long enough for the audience to see it. However, this still frame shows one panel in detail. The Hot-Wire legend indicates its original function, that of a detector circuit in a gas/liquid chromatograph.
  • In the original pilot the ship doesn't go into hyperdrive and so it's expected that it will continue on its original vector and speed, the latter of which is given as 18,400 mph. At that speed and assuming it's heading away from the Sun and in the ecliptic the first planet it could reach is Mars after about three months, which might be why Priplanis looks suspiciously like Mars. It would take more than 100,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri at this speed, assuming it's heading in the right direction.
  • Contrary to belief, the Robinsons are not lost in space until the Robot causes the ship to enter hyper drive -the meteor shower only knocked the ship off course, but still within range of Alpha Control's sensors (given that they picked up the activation of the Robot as mentioned in 'The Derelict').
  • When Smith reaches inside the gun rack for a laser, we get a rare shot of the compartment.
  • This is the only episode in which the EVA thrusters (similar to the devices then being used by the Gemini spacewalkers for EVA activity) and the Rocket Gun (a standard laser pistol with a spool launcher attached, commonly seen in a publicity shot with Dr Smith) are used.
  • According to the Alpha Control Reference Manual, the guard knocked out by Dr Smith was found dead, not knocked out (as might be thought by what is seen in the episode), of a broken neck- this makes sense given that the guard would have been able to identify Smith after the Jupiter 2 would have been destroyed.
  • The meteor shower should have destroyed the Jupiter 2.
  • In the suspended animation tubes the Robinsons and Major West are standing. Standing requires muscular effort and brain coordination not possible during sleep.
  • This episode's Director, Tony Leader, did not get on well with Jonathan Harris. A verbal fight broke out over Smith's very first scene which has the character appearing out of a flight couch compartment. Owing to his acute claustrophobia, Harris was extremely frightened of such a confinement and refused point blank to shoot the scene, leading to an angry confruntation with Leader. However, Irwin Allen broke up the argument, and after hearing of Harris' fears told Leader to use a stunt double. (from an anecdote by Johnathan Harris in 'The Irwin Allen Scrapbook, volume 2)
  • Johnathan Harris was not particularly enamoured with the original version of Smith as seen here and in the next few episodes, as he found 'snarling evil villains' to be a great bore. Also, there was little doubt Smith would not survive beyond a few episodes. Fortunately, Harris was gradually able to inject his character with his famous quirks and manner, egged on by Irwin Allen.
  • Smith is very lucky that the fire suppression system doesn't activate when he smashes the radio. A more logical way for it to stop fires would be to simply open the hatch and allow the atmosphere to escape, thus depriving the fires (and him) of the oxygen needed to keep going. 
  • It's also lucky for Smith that the ship has a breathable internal atmopshere since there is no need at all to maintain one  given that the Robinsons are expected to be sealed in suspended animation for the entire duration of the flight.  Filling it with pure nitrogen would be more practical since it's cheap, would prevent fires, and would inhibit bacterial growth.  If one estimates the volume of the Jupiter 2 as about 40,000 cubic feet at 14 p.s.i. pressure, then for a single person there could be about 8 hours of breathable air.
  • Some of the soundtrack from this episode has not survived, only alternate versions and re-recordings of a number of tracks are available, although these are in most cases the same as the original (a major example is in the theme which in TRS plays over the first shots of the Jupiter 2 interior, the original as used here was lost and an alternate version with a more enhanced theremin is the only remainder.)
  • When Smith lowers the unconscious West to the floor, you see Mark Goddard move his left arm to get it out of the way of Jonathan Harris' leg.
  • Dr. Smith removes one of Major West's gloves in the effort to revive him. Moments later West is at the controls of the astrogator, with both gloves on. We never see him put his glove back on.
  • Costume designer and assistant to the producer, Paul Zastupnevich is seen seated with other interpreters at Alpha Control.
  • A rare scene of the robot actually taking steps walking as it's echoing voice says "destroy!" as it attempts to destroy the ship.

Production history[]

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Special guest star[]

Uncredited co-stars (alphabetical)[]


Alpha Centauri, Alpha Control, atomic motor, cabin pressure control system, Colonel, colonization, computer, elevator, galley, guidance control system, inertial guidance system, Jupiter 2, liquid oxygen loading valve, lunar tracking station, planet, probe, radioactivity, spaceship, star, stateroom, suspended animation, transmitter, tv satelite control, United States

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