Saturday, October 14, 2017
The Lost Saucer: "My Fair Robot" (September 20, 1975)
After an asteroid breaches the saucer’s defense shields, Fi (Ruth Buzzi) and Fum (Jim Nabors) must land on Earth in the 23rd century.
There they encounter a clumsy robot named Goro, who is afraid to return to his human masters -- the Krugs -- who want to get their robot back and also for him to function properly.
Meanwhile, Jerry is captured by Sheriff Zork.
The Krugs, disappointed with their robot, want to send Goro to the recycling center. But Fi and Fum train Goro not to be too clumsy, and to function as a proper servant to the human family.
“My Fair Robot” is all kinds of wrong, at least in terms of the theme it conveys. Basically, the teleplay by John Fenton Murray concerns our lovable androids Fi and Fum teaching a robot how to accept a life of servitude to humans.
As the action starts, Goro has already run away from his so-called home because he doesn’t want to be a servant. But he returns when the androids convince the Krugs to give him a TV and not store him in the closet.
So slavery is okay, as long as you get a color television, and your own room, I guess.
I know the episode is meant to be a sitcom-type comedy, but the tale misses the mark in terms of progressive science fiction storytelling. How is it okay for artificial intelligence like Fi and Fum to teach another artificial intelligence, Goro, to be happy as the equivalent of a second class citizen? Would they be happy to be treated that way?
In terms of inspiration, “My Fair Robot” clearly goes back to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (1913) but substitutes a futuristic setting, and a robot rather than a lower-class character, learning about how to fit in with society. Last week, Gulliver’s Travels was a source of inspiration, and I do find it rewarding that The Lost Saucer looks to fashion its narratives based on classic sources. Next week, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is re-parsed.
Visually, the Krugs resemble a live-action version of the characters in The Jetsons. Just look at those costumes and hair-cuts! It’s as though the production-designer for The Lost Saucer (1975) just decided to adopt the whole Jetsons aesthetic in terms of color, and wardrobe. It looks abundantly silly, which may be the point.
The other weak point of the episode, beyond the short-sighted theme, is the physical appearance of our guest star: Goro. He looks to be the kind of robot that pre-adolescent kids build in the Boy Scouts. The costume is basically made of two cardboard boxes; one for the head and one for the torso, both painted silver. It’s difficult to believe that anyone that that this costume could pass muster on TV, even in 1975.
Next week: “Transylvania 2300.”