Danger Will Robinson, danger! As a kid, there were a handful of television shows that I loved watching when home sick. One of them was Lost in Space. The adventures of the Robinson family, wandering through space in the Jupiter 2 on their search to get back home, was one of my favorite shows. The Robinsons, along with Major Don West and the sometimes villainous Dr. Zachary Smith, encountered alien worlds and creatures each week that were equal parts thrilling and scary.
The show, which premiered in 1965, only ran for three seasons on CBS. Even in its short run, Lost in Space has managed to become an enduring classic of early science fiction television. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic show, a new Blu-ray of the complete series will be released on September 15, 2015. The release includes over seven hours of special materials including cast commentaries and a read-through of the series’ epilogue, penned by Will Robinson himself, Bill Mumy.
Sadly, when the show originally ended in 1968, it was given no proper series conclusion or finale. The franchise was rebooted as a feature film in 1998, but with no other iterations of the show since. In the fall of 2014, Legendary TV acquired the rights to the franchise, and plans are currently in development to reboot Lost in Space and bring it to a whole new generation of fans. We caught up with Bill Mumy (Will Robinson) and Angela Cartwright (Penny Robinson) at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about the show’s enduring legacy, growing up on television, and the future of the franchise.
Nerdist: Does it feel like 50 years has gone by?
Bill Mumy: Time is a bizarre river, it really is. A half a century has gone by since the show debuted and now I’m co-producing and putting this Blu-ray project together. When this cast gets together, it’s this strange time loop where it only seems like 5 or 10 years have passed. It feels like we’ve only come back from a short hiatus.
N: What was it like while doing the show? Did you treat it as just another job or something extra special?
Angela Cartwright: I think when the cast was shooting, it was an adventure every week. Bill and I used to hang out together because we were close in age. We went to school together during filming. I was really into the space program as a kid, it really caught everyone’s imagination at the time. Going to the moon seemed quite remarkable. The concept of a family being up in there in space was such a cool idea.
BM: When I started acting, it was because of watching shows like Superman or Zorro. Those adventurers and aliens from another planet, that’s what made me want to get into television. By the time we started Lost in Space, I had already been working for half my life. To be able to play Will Robinson and be in a fantasy science fiction project, was exactly what I had wanted to do with my career. It was very special for me to be a part of that.
N: What do you think viewers will be most surprised to learn from the new Blu-ray release?
BM: First of all, the remastered classic episodes. They look unbelievable! The black and white looks so crisp and clean. Our show changed over to color in the midst of the 60’s when Sgt. Pepper and pop art was going on. The colors in our show reflected that, and they really pop and stand out again in the restoration. You’ll also hear John Williams’ score which he wrote in his early days when he was still trying to make a name for himself. I think some of his best work was done on our series.
N: When did you realize that the show was considered a classic for sci-fi television?
AC: I think we’d have to tip our hat to (television and film producer) Kevin Burns who really kept the show alive. It could very well have just vanished into the ether, but he championed the show in the late 90s. Lost in Space meant a lot to him. This Blu-ray release would not be happening without him.
BM: The show’s been running around the world for half a century now. I think it actually ran prime time in Australia without stopping for over 30 years.
N: Wow, that’s really impressive for any TV show.
BM: When you’re 12 years old, you don’t think far beyond Christmas vacation or when the next comic book is coming out. To imagine 50 years ago that we would be together still promoting Lost in Space… I don’t think any of us could have fathomed that.
N: What’s it been like to see nerd culture grow and take over these days?
BM: It’s difficult. I do miss the old Comic-Con where you could sit down with Jack Kirby and nobody bothered you. From a comic geek’s perspective, just look at all the films coming out right now. If you told me 30 years ago there would be an Ant-Man movie, I would have been so excited. I love comic books and still read them every week. I’m thrilled to see so many sci-fi and fantasy projects coming to fruition, it’s great.
N: The television rights to Lost in Space were recently bought by Legendary and there are plans to bring it back in some form. What do you think of the prospect of a whole new generation getting into Lost in Space?
BM: Well I know that Legendary wants to treat the ongoing future of Lost in Space as positively as they can. I know some of their plans and I think they have great ideas. Lost in Space has had several attempts at reboots over the years. There was the feature film in 1998 and then a John Woo pilot years later. I wouldn’t call the feature film a huge success, and nothing ever came of the pilot. I hope the tone and quality of the next project that comes from Legendary is a successful one. I’m really happy to see the franchise moving forward.
Were you a fan of Lost in Space growing up? What do you think of a possible new Lost in Space series on TV? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor’s note: Nerdist Industries is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.