4

I've been watching the "original" Lost in Space (1965), "rediscovering" it having only vague memories of watching it in its original run. At the start of the first broadcast episode (not referring to the unaired pilot which I haven't seen), pre-launch "news coverage" tours the Jupiter 2, showing its two decks, amenities and general interior layout. While situated on the planet in the first season, the upper deck is about a foot or so above "ground", placing the lower deck "buried" below the surrounding landscape. The upper deck has large windows, and a door, affording views into the ship from outside and outside the ship from within. Movement between decks may be accomplished by ladder or functioning elevator.

Now to my (production context) question...

Was that just one complete set - the spaceship and landscape, serving for both interiors and exteriors, or was there a second ship set (or sets) for interiors (especially for scenes "downstairs")?

Since the ship was seen to have several bedrooms as well as dining area and workspaces, was that all accommodated within a single set, or were multiple sets required (almost seems bigger on the inside)?

There are establishing shots which are pretty obviously done using miniatures and/or paintings, but in my question I am referring specifically to sets hosting acted scenes - where the actors move around the sets - going in and out of the ship, riding the elevator, entering rooms, etc..

  • I have zero knowledge about the production of this series, but if the answer isn't "multiple sets as well as models", I'll eat my hat. – Mr Lister Oct 14 '18 at 11:21
  • @MrLister I get your point about models. I recall at least one establishing shot of the ship on the planet surface which looks pretty obviously like some combination of miniature and painting. – Anthony X Oct 14 '18 at 13:53
  • 1
    I've not read it, but if Cushman's book on LiS is half as thorough as his Star Trek TOS series, you'll likely find the answer here: jbmj-book-store.myshopify.com/products/lost-in-space-vol-one – NKCampbell Oct 14 '18 at 14:10
  • from my memory there was also a an even lower deck where the reactor was, and don't forget the storage space for the Chariot. All in all the Jupiter 2 rivals the Tardis for being bigger on the inside. – Peter M Oct 14 '18 at 15:42
  • @PeterM Seems so. Seen whole (in flight or before its initial launch), it appeared to be maybe one and a half decks high, yet was seen to have two full height decks of normal crew space plus, as you say, a third lower deck housing the reactor. And yes. I did wonder about the location from which they were able to break out (and I believe assemble off-screen) the chariot. For that matter, over the episodes I've watched so far (about half of the first season), they do seem to extract a lot of supplies and equipment from what must be magical closets. – Anthony X Oct 14 '18 at 15:49
5

The upper and lower decks were separate sets. In the original pilot, the ship ("Gemini 12") only had one deck, with no living quarters. When the show went to series, the premise was retooled to add Dr. Smith and the Robot, along with a lower deck. The footage from the pilot was chopped up and integrated with several of the first season episodes, which is why the sets sometimes change within the same episode. The most obvious visual differences between the pilot set and series set were the airlock (which was not present in the pilot), the porthole next to the airlock, and the elevator to the lower deck. The upper deck set seems pretty faithful to the established dimensions of the ship, but that all goes out the window with the lower deck, which is far too large to fit.

There was also a full-scale mockup of the Jupiter 2, without an interior, which was only used in a few episodes (most notably in a third season episode where they go back to a 1940's version of Earth and are mistaken for a UFO). You can also see this mockup version in the first season episode where, after crash landing on the planet, they send the Robot out to take soil samples. In that scene, the ship is sitting noticeably higher on the ground, and you can see more of the lower portion of the ship. I have no evidence for this, but my assumption is that they used the mockup for that one scene while they rebuilt the regular set to add the airlock, elevator, and other series features.

There is a book called "Lost In Space Design: No Place to Hide" by Robert Rowe, which goes into much detail about the design of the original pilot ship (the pilot episode was called "No Place to Hide"). Another book called "The Saucer Fleet", by Jack Hagerty, also contains extensive coverage of the Jupiter 2, including features that were part of the original ship design but never seen in the show, such as the loading ramp for the Chariot and engine access hatches.

  • Great answer. Leaves me a bit perplexed about one detail. In one of the episodes I have seen in my recent viewings (somewhere between 1.3 and 1.12), there is a shot from the elevator as it is being ridden up from the lower level. The camera takes the perspective of a passenger riding the elevator up from the lower deck. The shot appears continuous, no obvious indication of a cut, appears to be full-scale (the real set, not a miniature), and shows familiar elements of the ship, it seemed as though the upper and lower deck sets were actually stacked exactly like the imagined ship. – Anthony X Oct 16 '18 at 0:28
  • I remember the shot you're referring to. I'm certain there was a brief moment when the screen went to black, at the point where it would have been exactly between the decks, and there was a quick cut in the blackness. That's normally how such shots are achieved. See Hitchcock's "Rope" or the recent movie "Birdman" for more examples (both films were designed to look like one long take, with no cuts). – Loren Cain Oct 16 '18 at 12:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.