More cheesy TV

I have seen the future, and it’s a polyester pantsuit.

Angela Cartwright as Penny Robinson

Specifically, an orange polyester pantsuit.  Well, either that or kelly green with orange and yellow trim:

June Lockhart as Maureen Robinson

That’s the mom version.  The cool silver one with matching  hat is reserved for androids, unfortunately.

Yep, you guessed it, folks.  We’ve been watching cheesy TV again.  This time around — Lost in Space (my husband and I are slowly working our way through the entire Irwin Allen ouevre).  Lost in Space is a program that occupies a special little corner of my heart, because it was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid.  Would you believe I never knew that those pantsuits had actual colors?!  Or that Billy Mumy, who played Will Robinson, was a redhead?  That’s because all I ever saw was this:

Billy Mumy as Will Robinson

We didn’t have a color television until I was in college. Pathetic, but true.

The show has not held up well over the years, alas — it’s campy and silly and laughably sexist, with the female characters usually stuck either engaged in domestic chores or fussing over their hairdos — but the one thing that has held up is Jonathan Harris.  I’d forgotten how absolutely fabulous he is as the scheming, craven Dr. Zachary Smith.

Jonathan Harris as Dr. Zachary Smith, cowering behind Will Robinson as usual

He steals every scene he’s in.  I’ve read that he was largely responsible for writing his own nimble dialogue, and enhancing that of much of the rest of the cast as well.  Apparently he used to spend hours dreaming up a seemingly endless list of insults to sling at the hapless robot (my personal favorite:  “You bubble-headed booby!”).  Maybe he’s the reason that I love alliteration to this day.

Cheesy TV

Thrifty souls that we are, my husband and I recently dropped our cable subscription, opting instead for free internet TV.  With a laptop hooked up to our television and a Playstation 3, plus the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and PlayOn at our fingertips, we’ve been amazed at the variety of things available to watch, from movies and current first-run TV (we’re big “24” fans) to cheesy shows from our childhood like this one:

Gotta love those groovy ’60s graphics.

The Time Tunnel is a real howler, with ridiculously low-budget sets and special effects, plots with more holes than Swiss cheese, and buckets of earnest over-acting.  It’s gloriously fun.

Each episode sends Tony and Doug, our two heroes, hurtling to a new destination in time.  Somehow, they always manage to land right in the thick of things, whether it’s the Titanic on the night it hits the iceberg, the eruption of Krakatoa, or the Battle of Gettysburg, to name just a few.  And somehow, though the scientists back at mission control are unable to retrieve their colleagues, at the end of each show they manage to rescue them just in the nick of time and send them spinning on to new adventures.  Lots of somersaults are involved in this process, but despite whatever explosions, altercations, or upheavals they’ve just been engaged in, the pair emerge at each new destination looking remarkably fresh, with hairdos unmussed and dapper outfits (hip avocado green turtleneck for Tony; suit and tie for Doug) unsullied.  Impressive.

Spotting the frequent anachronisms is one of our favorite pastimes– for instance, who knew that ancient Jericho used plastic ’60s beads for room dividers?

Last night we watched “Chase Through Time,” a wonderfully goofy episode featuring a young Robert Duvall as a bad guy bent on destroying the tunnel.  At one point, our heroes catch up with him a million years in the future, where Duvall chews up the scenery with a silver colander on his head.

TV doesn’t get much better than this.