Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Lost in Space 50th Anniversary Blogging: The Girl from the Green Dimension" (January 4, 1967)

In “The Girl in the Green Dimension,” the space siren who once attempted to lure Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) to the stars (in “Wild Adventure”) returns. This time, Athena (Vitina Marcus) is in love with Smith and believes him to be a handsome warrior.

Smith realizes that Athena, from the “green dimension,” has the ability to see the future, and decides she is worth having around.  At least, that is, until a suitor shows up for her: the green-skinned space Viking named Urso (Harry Raybould). 

Because Smith refuses to fight Urso for Athena’s hand, the alien turns Will (Bill Mumy) green too.

It’s not easy being green. It’s also not easy reviewing this spell of Lost in Space’s (1965-1968) second season. It would be difficult to name a sillier, more inconsequential title than this week’s installment, “The Girl in the Green Dimension.”  It’s sub-Gilligan’s Island fare.

The absurdities pile up pretty past, but I’ll enumerate some of them here to give you a taste.  The first involves the fact that Athena is apparently in love with Smith and considers him a brave warrior.  He is hardly suitable courtship material.  She is gorgeous and exotic…he’s a middle-aged pear.  So why the attraction?

Secondly, Will gets turned green – and then back to normal – by means that can only be termed magic.  Apparently, only Urso, not Athena, can change the molecular structure of people by touch. Does this mean all green men of the Green dimension have this power? 

Thirdly, we are asked to believe that the Robinsons would hold a funeral for a piece of Jupiter 2’s equipment.  The family members literally bury the equipment, gather around the mound, and then say kind words about it; they eulogize it.  This occurs, naturally, so Smith can see a vision of the “future” and think that it is his funeral the family has witnessed.  After witnessing this vision of his death, he walks around the planet surface carrying his own half-carved tombstone.

“Wild Adventure” is one of the absolute worst episodes of the second season, so it’s a baffling choice to pick up that story line in “The Girl from the Green Dimension.”  Worse, nothing about this story makes the slightest bit of sense, from the telescope that can show the future to Athena’s affection for Smith as a brave, handsome warrior.  It all seems to take place in some bizarre universe where up is down, black is white, and green is, well, green.

Some folks have seen “The Girl from the Green Dimension” as a commentary on racial differences and belonging, because of Will’s tribulations as a green boy.  He is afraid to show his face to his family, after turning green, fearful that his siblings will reject him because he is “different.”

Indeed, that could have been the point of the episode, but it isn’t.  Instead, it’s the only bearable subplot the episode has to offer.  A better episode would have featured Will’s change as the main point, and challenged his family’s thinking on what is ‘normal,’ and the importance of skin color.  “The Girl from the Green Dimension” barely touches on those notions, and certainly not enough to merit a positive review.

In two weeks: "The Questing Beast."


  1. I commend you for wading through all these "Lost in Space" episodes.

    For that, we (your readers) collectively owe you a beer.

  2. A case of good beer at least. Or possibly vodka spiked with morphine - this show got pretty painful at times.

    I'm having trouble seeing how the episode could have worked well as a commentary on race relations. The family is generally open minded and rational so wouldn't the natural reaction to Will be green be simply "Hey, it's Will. And he's green."? Mind you, the writing was so inconsistent at this point that it wouldn't surprise me if they had just had his parents chase him away throwing rocks at him just because of the change in shade.

    The bit about the green lady falling for Smith is probably the least unlikely part of the plot though. My best friend is a stunningly beautiful, elegantly goth-looking artist. She tends to really go for pudgy, middle aged engineers who are at least ten years older than her!

  3. John,
    We've come a long way from "The Reluctant Stowaway," haven't we? Sigh.
    I have little to add here, but I concur with Monc. Before this is said and done, we're gonna owe you several beverages of your choice.
    At least Vitina Marcus seems to be having a great deal of fun as Athena. She is also excellent as Lani in the Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea episode "Return of the Phantom." Her performance literally gives me chills, and it's clear that she always brought her "A" game to Irwin Allen's shows.

  4. Season two low brow. I remember watching this episode as a boy in reruns in the '70s and thinking why would they make Will take a bath outside in a makeshift tub instead of in privacy in the Jupiter 2 lower deck bathroom shower.


  5. I often wonder how painful it must've been to be a teenage fantasy/science fiction fan during that dismal TV season of 1966/67. All the shows (with the exception of Star Trek) were so intent on mimicking the camp style of Batman, everything suffered. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Man from UNCLE, Girl from UNCLE, Lost in Space...almost all of their episodes from this season are a painful slog. At least we have other viewing options; people back then had three networks and maybe a local channel showing Dick Powell movies.

  6. Charles Izemie4:49 PM

    My tuppence, from the point of view of someone who has never seen Lost in Space before but now watching it approximately one episode per week (sometimes slower, never faster) -- and now more or less concurrent (coaeval?) with John's reviews.

    I share John's – and his readers' – frustration: the first episodes had me pleasantly surprised, and I thought: "A-cha! Now I understand why this is cult material! It's pretty good, isn't it?" Well, it quickly took a different path, but you know what? A lot of 1960s TV was silly and Lost in Space seemed to have upped it to thirteen and I find myself looking forward to seeing new episodes: there is definitely a no-holds-barred vibe to it, even a kind of a monkeys-with-typewriters feel.

    As to this week's episode: Good science fiction? Heavens, no. Was I bored? No, I wasn't, even though by now I know from the start that it's going to be inconsequential, to say the least.

    So, my point is: by now the series is reaching such a grandeur in silliness that parody becomes superfluous, and I'm almost beginning to wish that something of this sort would appear on my TV screen today. Anything goes, monkeys-with-typewriters, something-will-eventually-stick... Self-importance be hanged! :)