Must resist temptation to begin review "Danger...danger, Will Robinson".... Seriously, though...no, wait, who can take a TV series like Lost in Space seriously? Cheesy sets and stories and campy acting, it has become a classic example of 1960s television, of 1950s and '60s science fiction for the masses (emphasis on the fiction), and of Irwin Allen's over-the-top, disaster-oriented ideas of drama. Created to celebrate the show's 40th anniversary, this two-disc, limited-edition package from LaLa Land puts together many of the themes and cues from Lost in Space's original soundtracks, much of which were recycled throughout the show's three-year run. The first disc is devoted to the music written by John Williams -- including the show's main and end titles -- for first season episodes. This was back when Williams was still doing studio work, orchestrating and scoring a variety of films and television shows. His music for Lost in Space is heavily influenced by Bernard Herrmann's 1951 score for The Day the Earth Stood Still. There is a similar sense of wonder and slightly ominous suspense in both, accentuated by the use of electronic instruments and scored with more woodwinds and brass than strings. Williams' Lost in Space music is very much the precursor to his music for the first Star Wars trilogy, a small-scale version of what was to come. The second disc features music by other veteran Hollywood studio composers such as Herman Stein, Hans J. Salter, Alexander Courage, Gerald Fried, Robert Drasnin, Leigh Harline, and Cyril Mockridge, as well as Williams' more happily adventurous theme for the show's third season. Given the number of composers, the music of the second disc is naturally more varied, but it is also more affected and obvious than Williams' serious-minded music. It frequently seems less original than even Williams' music. Cues for the episodes "Welcome Stranger" and "Curse of Cousin Smith" have the same folksy, down-home sound of countless TV westerns. And there's the inevitable "groovy" episode, "The Promised Planet," with Pete Rugolo's "Space-a-Delic" theme. Like so many other shows of the '60s and early '70s, it's an attempt to be cool and hip, but is so pathetically and simplistically executed that it fails miserably.
This release has less of Williams' music than the two discs released on the GNP Crescendo label in the last '90s, but more of the music by the other composers than the Lost in Space, Vol. 3, GNP Crescendo release. It will add to any Lost in Space or John Williams aficionado's collection, and for the rest of us, it's a true, if somewhat embarrassing, representation of 1960s TV music.