How I got Lost In Space At The Age of Four Years Old
Wernher Von Braun in A Publicity Release Photo
Guy Williams and June Lockhart In a Promotional Photo For "Lost In Space"
When I was four years old, shortly before the medical exam that had the doctor taking my father aside to tell him the good news was that I seemed to have recovered miraculously from the worst chemical internal burns he had ever seen and the bad news was that I appeared to be a different child from the one he had examined before the accident, Irwin Allen brought out a television show that had an uncanny impact on me as a young boy.
The critics savaged the show early on, concentrating particularly on the one dimensional, saccharine sweetness of the Robinson Family. Many critics pointed out that no human beings in real life behaved like the Robinsons. They were completely guileless, loving, totally devoted to one another and never found cause for conflict with each other. They had no ulterior motives, no conflict inside the family and no divided or ambiguous feelings for one another. The mother loved the children. The children loved their mother. The father loved the mother and she loved him. The father was assisted by his good friend in keeping the family unit alive. The father intended to see his fellow male marry his daughter and treated him like he was a kin relationship. The two of them never contested with one another for leadership and the two of them always seemed to be on the same wavelength with a common purpose - looking out for the women and children at all costs and generally adopting a stoic indifference to their own personal needs. As the critics pointed out, the only realistic character on the show was Dr. Smith, whose neverending sinister agenda provided the dramatic conflict that otherwise would not have existed on the show. The critics pointed out that without Dr. Smith, the show would not have lasted a single season. The viewers would not have been able to identify with the goody two-shoes simpletons in the Robinson Family. The critics spoke of the "solid, beefy caricatured Robinson men with their thick torsos and stalwart chins as a sort of suburban ideal of masculinity." Apparently the critics found something offensive in all this.
From the first time I saw the show as a toddler, it exerted an eerie grip on me that precluded everything else. I was so rapt watching the show it was difficult for my parents to even speak to me when it was on. I still had a dummy in my mouth and took it out frequently to point to the screen when it was on during some part of the show that resonated so strongly in me I had to highlight it. My fascination was with the Robinsons. Not Dr. Smith. Even at this young age I felt Dr. Smith was like the people I saw around me in real life. He was nefarious. He had a forked tongue. It was impossible for him to say anything without actually working on another angle at the same time. The man was so crooked he must have had to screw on his pants in the morning. Dr. Smith I recognized as being similar to the adults I knew in the world around me. The Robinsons were something else altogether to me.
Something in the curves of their faces and their builds and their self-expression triggered a powerful response in me. This is how proper people talked. This is the way proper people communicated. This is how real men and women should comport themselves if they were healthy and normal. Everything about the Robinsons struck a chord in me. I saw them clearly as being of my own kind. Dr. Smith was part of The Others. Even at four years old, I saw this as clearly as you see the sun rise in the morning. When adults were speaking to me and attempting to charm me I could see several different ambiguous emotions in their faces at the same time just as Dr. Smith's face looked when he talked.
I began to tell my mother that the Robinsons were "my real family" and that Penny and Will were my real "brother and sister." I began to speak to Penny and Will as my imaginary friends. I told my mother that the Robinsons were going to come get me in the Jupiter-2 and take me back to their home planet so I "could be with my own real family," a frequent delusion seen with "Asperger's Syndrome" about being separated from one's "real race." My mother and father tried hard to laugh at my strange notions and obsession with this television show, certain it must be some kind of stage that is normal for a child to go through. It isn't. It is distinctly bizarre and outlandish. These kinds of feelings of alienation as a child that young is a truly odd expression of development.
My parents never knew what kind of sadness came over me as I got older and began to understand more of the mechanics of my situation. The Robinsons were never coming to get me in the Jupiter-2. I was never going back to be with my own kind. I was to be left here, forever, amongst the Dr. Smiths. The Others had taken me from my people and I would never, ever be returning to my true home. I knew, even before I started school, that all of these people were Dr. Smiths. Their ways and the ways of my people, the Robinsons, were as far apart and incompatible as a bird in the air and a fish in the water. The Others were going to raise me as one of their own and they would make me compete against a society of Dr. Smiths. There was something about this that even at a very young age I knew was wrong.
Look at Guy Williams and then look at Wernher Von Braun above him. June Lockhart was the right key emotionally and she had a kind face but she did not strike me the way that Guy Williams did. Guy Williams would have seemed perfectly matched with Madeleine Stowe or Rachel Adams beside him. Where did I know this person from at the age of four? Hadn't I seen him before? Sure, he was ... he was ... something about him seemed like an uncle or a grandfather I saw regularly. Already, epigenetic changes had heavily altered my limbic cortex and the part of the brain that recognizes one's own kind. The RNA messengers had grafted new genes in that trained me to look for different facial geometries before I could even ride a bike.