Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lost in Space Day: "The Keeper" (Part II)

In “The Keeper” (Part II), the alien’s menagerie escapes onto the planet surface, imperiling the continued existence of the Robinsons. 

The Keeper (Michael Rennie) agrees to collect all the loose beasts and return the planetary surface to normal…but only if the Robinsons willingly surrender Will (Bill Mumy) and Penny (Angela Cartwright) to be permanent residents in his zoological collection.

The Robinsons refuse to give up the children, but devise alternatives to placate the Keeper. John (Guy Williams) and Maureen (June Lockhart) turn themselves over to the Keeper, but he demurs, saying that they will find captivity too difficult.

Separately and independently, Don (Mark Goddard) and Judy (Marta Kristen) also offer themselves to the alien.

Once more, the Keeper refuses. But after witnessing first-hand the decency and compassion of Mrs. Robinson when he is injured, the Keeper acts to stop the loose animals, including the most dangerous of the bunch, a giant, spider-mammal attacking the chariot.

The Keeper leaves the planet, but tells the Robinsons that they shall be punished.  He will leave the worst monster behind for them to contend with on a permanent basis.

That monster’s name? Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris)...

The second part of “The Keeper” two-parter goes pretty much as the audience expects. The Robinsons reveal, again, their essential decency. Down to a person (and including Don), everyone tries to save the family through the act of sacrifice. 

They each put their community and family ahead the well-being of the individual. 

The lone exception, of course, is the “worst example of the species,” Dr. Smith. He works as a secret operative for the Keeper, and tries to manipulate John, Maureen, Will and Penny. 

And why anyone trusts him ever again is once more a mystery.

Last week, I wrote about how “The Keeper” is basically a template for many (and I mean MANY…) Lost in Space episodes. The formula here reaches its final or turning point: the sacrifice for the good of the community, and the alien figure’s recognition that the Robinsons -- because of their humanity and human bonds -- are more trouble than they are worth.

The special effects in “The Keeper” Part II are really amazing, and hold up remarkably well.  The alien spider/mammal thing attacks the Chariot (with Don, Will, the Robot, Penny and Smith inside), and the effects work is quite impressive. 

Also, we get a lot of matte shots of normal sized-lizards “enlarged” to giant size (a typical trick for the art works of Irwin Allen…) and joined flawlessly with live-action footage.

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