THE STAR TREK VERSUS LOST IN SPACE DEBATE
Back in the sixties when Star Trek and Lost In Space were both being aired on their respective networks, fans of either series were automatically expected to disparage the other series. Trekkers tended to dismiss LIS as “silly,” while Spacers were inclined to dismiss ST as “too military,” and lacking in the warm loving family feeling that was the hallmark of LIS.
To defend ST, I would point out that, though the mutual love among the ST characters was subtler, it absolutely was there, and became more visible with more steady viewing.
In defense of LIS, I need to share a bit of LIS history. Like ST, it ran for three seasons, but it went on the air one year earlier. This difference is crucial, for it was billed as the first adult science fiction television series, and its first season was truly superb. I recommend almost any of its first season episodes (the black-and-white ones) unconditionally. A mere year later came ST, but that magnificent debut spelled doom for LIS. It should not have, but it did. Why? Because CBS, in its infinitely questionable wisdom, decided that there certainly could not be two adult science fiction television series; there would never be enough intelligent audience for both of them. It did not occur to CBS, apparently, that the same audience could love both shows. I suppose that this should not surprise me; as Gene Roddenberry often said, NBC doubted that there were enough intelligent people out there to support even one such program. So, CBS ordered LIS to drastically alter its format and become a kiddie show. That was a tragedy. And from what I have read, the cast of the show felt the same way about the change that I did. Did I stop watching LIS at this point, or did my friends? No. By that time, we were hooked on the excellent cast no matter how abysmal some of the storylines became, because we knew what LIS could be.
It has always seemed to me that science fiction fans should stand loyally together in mutual defense against a world that is often hostile toward all of us. I sincerely hope that you will agree.
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