The new Netflix Lost in Space is fantastic for many reasons,
but it has also confirmed many of my personal fan theories and headcanons, that
I’ve had for years, about the original series.
Among them (possible mild
spoilers for the new series):
When the new Netflix show revealed the female Dr. Smith was using an
alias and false identity (cool Billy Mumy cameo, the original Will Robinson, as
the “real” Dr. Smith, incidentally), I was like, “a-ha!”
In the new series, they explain that the new Judy Robinson
is Maureen’s biracial daughter from a previous marriage who John Robinson adopted when he married her mother. I figured the same was true of Judy in the original series as well. Penny
has dark brown hair like John, Will is a ginger like his Mom, but the tall, blonde,
tanned Judy is almost a decade older than the other siblings and doesn’t resemble either parent, and so I figured she was Dr. John Robinson’s
daughter from a previous marriage, and is a dead ringer for her mom, who I
always visualized as a super-knockout, a Joi Lansing or Julie Newmar type, in
comparison to the more plain and practical Maureen Robinson. If you watch the
original series, notice that Maureen doesn’t really seem to ever discipline or
command Judy, and their relationship is more like two peers, like girl-friends than like
mother and daughter, doing each other’s hair and gabbing, etc. She called Maureen “Mom” and “Mother,” but calling a step-parent that was more common in previous generations, as the Brady kids showed.
In the new Netflix series, the Robot is mentally linked to Will and
can read his thoughts and commands. In the original series, I believed the B-9
Environmental Control Robot was a telepath/empath, like in Isaac Asimov’s
story, “Liar!” This one was by far the most controversial and far-out of all my
fan theories, but I believe I can support it with what I think is overwhelming
evidence from the original series. The Robot’s chief attribute in the original LoS was
that he had a sensor suite that could make a Trek tricorder look like an
underachiever. There were several occasions when asked about other family
members that not only did the Robot give their physical status but their mental
one as well, explaining whether they were worried or agitated. Maybe that could
be explained by him reading their pulse/respiration, right? Well, in the
episode “Mr. Nobody” in the first season, when the energy being attacks, the Robot yells over and
over that he “senses great anger.” It’s quite a remarkable sequence, as in it,
he talks more like Counselor Troi than like the Robot we know.
Okay, still not
convinced? Well, the very next episode after the Mr. Nobody outburst, Maureen,
who is a tremendously wise and perceptive woman, point
blank asked the Robot if he can detect thoughts. The Robot’s response was
as good as a confirmation: “thought waves are just a kind of energy that can be
For what it’s worth, I don’t think this empathic or telepathic ability is shared by all B9 models but is unique to the Jupiter II’s B-9, possibly due to some exposure to unique circumstances.
For what it’s worth, I wrote some fanfic in the early 90s
explaining one remarked on point of order for the series: Penny’s space-ape
best friend Debbie the Bloop disappeared from the show without explanation, in
the same way that Chuck Cunningham and the middle Winslow daughter did. (In real life of course, we know that Debbie the Bloop left the show when the chimpanzee that played her took a bite out of a child actor’s finger.)
story was about how Bloops had a life cycle where they only start as
ape-creatures, but enter a chrysalis and become luminous, beautiful, angelic
beings that roam space freely. I admit, I cribbed this idea from Meggan from Marvel UK, and the TNG episode “Transfigurations.” This was the reason Debbie bonded to Penny, of all the Robinsons: the artistic, introverted, overlooked Robinson middle child who wasn’t as pretty as Judy or smart as Will, as she too was a late bloomer who would come into her own.
“The Antimatter Man,” one of the best Lost in Space episodes. Don West in the Antimatter world had a beard, continuing the tradition of evil facial hair choices, and the robot was black and white with a green vocalizer.
I love the new Lost in Space, and the new robot looks great and is a physical suit, but…doesn’t he look just like a Geth from Mass Effect?
Penny’s space-pet Debbie the Bloop (played by Judy the Chimpanzee) was the Chuck Cunningham or Judy Winslow of the original Lost in Space: where’d she go?
Technical specifications for a B-9 Robot.
Art by Ron Gross.
I am so pumped about the Lost in Space Netflix revival.
Penny from Lost in Space (Angela Cartwright) grew up to be beautiful.
LISFan, a fanzine for Lost in Space, circa 1988.
For those who don’t know, Fanzines were xeroxed fan-made publications passed from fan to fan in pre-internet days.