This may not interest you.
No adult can stomach the insipid old TV show Lost in Space, but when I was a little boy, 5-6 years old, I was completely enthralled. It came on every day at 5:00 p.m. and–maybe this was for the best–I never saw all the episodes before it was canceled in syndication.
What really scared me was the episode where Dr. Smith and Will Robinson convert the Jupiter 2 into a resort hotel for space aliens.
I was obsessed with the Jupiter 2, and I would make my own by stapling the edges of two paper plates, facing forward, together. I would cut out windows, a closable ramp, and landing gear, and I would draw on the rest with a marker. That would entertain me during commercials.
The space aliens looked like humans, of course, but they reverted to their natural forms at night under the full moon. As vacationers, they jokingly played badminton together during the day, but at night they turned into pineapple headed murderers with dead birds of paradise flowers for external eyeballs.
Will Robinson hears these creeps coming towards his quarters, and he quickly decides to hide in the closet on top of a box placed on the high shelf. I thought this was ingenious! Later I made sure there was room for me to fit above the top shelf in my own bedroom closet and I put a box to stand upon up there, just in case any murderers came creeping around my house. Let those other little jerkoffs get caught under the bed–I would be hiding in the closet, on top of a box
The pineapple heads search Will’s closet, they paw through his wardrobe and blindly move on. Will descends, boots first, and jumps down from the closet.
In my memory, this was the most terrifying event ever. I remembered an alien hand brushing back and forth along the bottom edge of Will’s boots, feeling up around the boxes, and nearly capturing the kid at his ankles, but this scene does not exist except in my imagination, in how I misremembered it. I guess I added that close call myself to heighten the joy of my own terror. The misremembrance of this non-event frightened me for years, until Jaws came out. It’s funny to watch that scene now, and realize how much of it I made up myself.
I also had a space suit I wore while watching Lost In Space. It was a pajama top mock turtleneck that had a yellow V below the collar–kind of like a dicky. It looked just like the shirt the father, John Robinson, wore. I would wear it while I watched the program. I would wear it and wait for Don West to blow up at Dr. Smith. I figured Don was a hothead because he wanted to get it on with Judy Robinson, who, I thought was sexy like Cat Woman and looked Swedish. In my mind, Dr. Smith was somehow preventing that all from happening. Dr. Smith struck me as a cockblock, even though I had no concept of anything like that back in 1972. Dr. Smith was designed to frustrate the audience, even at 6, I was like “Why don’t they just ditch that asswipe?”
Later I learned that the producers loved the Jonathan Harris character so much that they allowed the actor to write his own lines. Several episodes featured only Dr. Smith, Will, and the Robot. Guy Williams would phone in his lines from the golf course, and they would play them back over Will’s walkie-talkie to maintain the illusion that there was still a Space Family Robinson–still adults around who cared.
I remember seeing commercials for the oldies record At The Hop! around that time too. I hated most of the songs they played cuts of, except for Buddy Holly’s, which I thought were rockin’. My dad, actually bought the album. We mostly made fun of products we saw on TV together, so this was somewhat out of character for him.
Dad ended up giving me the album because none of the songs were the original recordings. It was inauthentic. All of the songs had be rerecorded by some house band. The difference didn’t bother me–I didn’t know the originals–and I learned all the songs of my parent’s high school days. Most of them sucked; they were not rock songs, like “Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain…” which for years I thought was about some wimp who’s crying because the only girl he cared about had gone away, looking for a brand new skirt. She was actually looking for a brand new “start,” which seems reasonable, but I had heard skirt. Even at age six, I was like “You don’t need her, man. She left you for a skirt!” Pseudo Buddy Holly was pretty good, and so was pseudo Dion. I thought Dion’s girl ‘Runaround Sue’ had left him with a broken arm, this woman scared me–“Why did she have to break his arm?,” but once again, I had misheard the lyrics, she only left him with a broken heart.
TV was only ever interactive at that age.