Monday, December 26, 2016

Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Biography of a Classic Sci-Fi Series, Volume 2

It’s now in release!  This is the second of three volumes in this in-depth series that analyzes Lost in Space, the CBS-TV series which ran 1965-1968.

          What makes these books the ultimate source for background and information about the series?  Author Marc Cushman achieved access to the papers of producer Irwin Allen, and interviewed many cast and crew.  In these books he produces Nielsen and other ratings information for the show, and harvests information from hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.

          Following the format of his books on the original Star Trek TV series, Cushman covers the making of each episode.  This includes the genesis of each story; the production staff’s comments and changes; casting; special effects; publicity for the episodes; period reviews or comments; and each episode’s ranking against its competitors.

          Season Two represented a big visual change for Lost in Space.  The show made the jump from black-and-white to color, creating  a different stylistic vibe.  Lost in Space brought Pop Art to life in a manner usually attributed to its competitor, ABC-TV’s Batman.

          Allen and the network had discovered that the camp team of Dr Smith and the Robot brought viewers and media attention.  With Season Two, the producers amped up this dynamic, at the expense (and sometimes frustration) of the top-billed stars.  The ever-changing dynamic of stars, staff, critics, and audience is chronicled throughout the book.

          The tale of this groundbreaking sci-fi series can also be read as a parable of the state of TV in the 1960s: struggles over time and budget, over aspirations and possibilities. 

          Stay tuned for Volume Three, coming soon!

TRUTH IN REVIEWING:  I am the (enthusiastic!) editor of these volumes.  It’s great to be involved in the production of such interesting books.

Buy Volume 2 here or here.

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