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11 Far Out Facts About Lost in Space

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By CBS Television (eBay itemphoto frontphoto back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The seminal sci-fi series Lost In Space, which aired between 1965 and 1968, was a cultural touchstone for children of the ’60s and ’70s. The series started with a serious premise: The Robinson family—father John, mother Maureen, daughters Judy and Penny, and son Will—along with Major Don West and their talking Robot, set out on a five-and-a-half year space flight to a planet near Alpha Centauri to seek out the possibility of human colonization there as Earth had become overpopulated and was being stripped of its resources. But when the nefarious Dr. Zachary Smith, who became an accidental stowaway, sabotaged their trip for an unnamed organization, they were set adrift in the cosmos, unsure of where they were or how to get back home.

As the show progressed, particularly when it made the jump to color in its second season, episodes became more camp. Despite the outlandishness of some plots, the show endeared itself to millions of people for its portrayal of strong family bonds in the face of adversity and the witty banter between Dr. Smith and the Robot. In honor of Lost In Space’s 50th anniversary and its recent Blu-ray upgrade (and with rumors swirling about a possible reboot), we’re digging into the history of the iconic series.

1. THE ORIGINAL UNAIRED PILOT SET A DARKER TONE. IT ALSO COST $600,000.

The original pilot “No Place To Hide”—which cost $600,000, or $4.5 million in today's dollars—was a more straight up sci-fi tale that did not include either Dr. Smith or the Robot in the cast. The Space Family Robinson saga—inspired by a comic book with that title from Gold Key Comics that began in 1962—started with their 1997 mission going awry thanks to a meteor shower, and the Jupiter 2 crash landing on a seemingly barren planet with harsh weather conditions and inhabited by dangerous cyclops giants. It was pretty impressive for the day and hinted at a more intense show than the one that ultimately aired. We still love the series, but this episode—unseen until early last decade—promised many more dramatic possibilities.

2. THE JUPITER 2 COST MORE THAN THE ENTERPRISE.

The cost of the Robinson family's Jupiter 2 spacecraft was $350,000 ($2.6 million today), more than the Enterprise on Star Trek, which began airing when Lost In Space started its second season. Of course, a major difference is that the Jupiter 2 was a smaller ship, so we saw every chamber in it, whereas the Enterprise was a larger wessel (as Pavel Chekov would say) with many unseen nooks and crannies. It was all about scale.

3. LOST IN SPACE AND STAR TREK WERE COMPETITORS FOR TWO SEASONS.

For the 1966-1967 and 1967-1968 television seasons, the two shows were primetime competitors. Lost In Space had an audience that skewed younger. Even though Star Trek has become an iconic franchise famed across the globe, spawning five live action shows and a dozen movies, the original series was not a major success and struggled during its three seasons on the air, although by the early '70s it had gained momentum in syndication. By contrast, Lost In Space—which had a 1973 animated series and a 2003 live action revival both killed off (although the former had its lone pilot air as part of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie series)—allegedly ranked higher throughout its three-year run. Ultimately neither show broke the top 30 shows overall for any year that they aired.

4. JONATHAN HARRIS WAS THE MAIN PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR CAMPING UP DR. SMITH (YOU BUBBLE-HEADED BOOBY).

Partway through the first season, the producers were allegedly feeling lukewarm toward Dr. Smith’s antagonistic role and gave Harris license to play with his character. The actor then proceeded to gradually ramp up the camp and improvised many of his numerous insults directed at the Robot. As goofy as many of their exchanges were, Dr. Smith and the Robot’s Laurel and Hardy routine became a crowd pleaser.

5. BILL MUMY LATER BECAME INVOLVED WITH THE STAR TREK FRANCHISE.

Despite being on a competing show, Mumy (who played young Will Robinson) always liked Star Trek and even lived down the street from William Shatner when both shows were on the air. Three decades later, in 1998, Mumy got the chance to play a human character on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Back in 1990, he co-wrote three Star Trek comic book issues published by DC Comics. Mumy’s sci-fi affiliations do not end there: He played Lennier for all five seasons of Babylon 5 in the 1990s. The Twilight Zone fans also know him as the child with godlike powers who terrorizes his family in the 1961 episode "It's A Good Life." He appeared in the 1983 movie's recreation of that episode as well.

6. THE ROBOT AND ROBBY THE ROBOT ARE RELATED.

If you noticed any similarities between the Robot on Lost In Space and Robby the Robot from the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, then you probably will not be surprised to learn that they were both designed by Robert Kinoshita. Indeed, Robby the Robot made a guest turn on the Lost In Space episodes "War of the Robots" (1966, as the Robotoid) and "Condemned of Space" (1967, as a robot prison guard). Kinoshita passed away last year at the age of 100. Evidently he was as durable as his creations.

7. GUY WILLIAMS RETIRED FROM ACTING AFTER LOST IN SPACE.

The man who was famed for playing Zorro on TV between 1957 and 1961 and Dr. John Robinson from 1965 to 1968 decided to retire from the spotlight at the young age of 44 following the cancellation of Lost In Space. He later moved to Argentina, where he was reportedly beloved and where he lived until his death in 1989.

8. JOHN WILLIAMS COMPOSED THE MAIN THEME. TWICE.

While he only contributed music to four of the series’ 83 episodes, famed movie composer John Williams (credited as Johnny Williams) did create the theme that was popular for the first two seasons, then created a more vibrant fanfare for the third and final season as the show focused on more outlandish scenarios. Interestingly, the unaired original pilot reused Bernard Herrmann’s music from the 1951 sci-fi classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, and nine episodes of the show reused Herrmann scores. La La Land Records recently issued a 12-CD set of music from the entire series. Part of the show’s charm did lay in its exciting, original soundtrack work, which featured many memorable themes from a variety of composers (some taken from other sources).

9. THE SHOW'S CREATOR IRWIN ALLEN WAS NOT A POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON SET.

According to some cast members, Allen took things a little too seriously, and did not endear himself to people on the production. He had a reputation for being difficult to work with, even if many of his film and TV endeavors were highly successful.

10. THE TEPID MOVIE REMAKE ENDED TITANIC’S #1 STREAK AT THE BOX OFFICE.

The critically panned 1998 movie remake, which was rightly derided for being too dark and lacking the warmth of the original, distinguished itself in two ways: It ended Titanic’s 15-week streak as the #1 movie in America. (Ultimately we know which film people remember best.) It also received a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Remake or Sequel.

11. JUNE LOCKHART WAS RECENTLY HONORED BY NASA.

In the unaired Lost In Space pilot, we were told that Maureen Robinson had a PhD in biochemistry. When the pilot we all know aired, she was essentially the mother figure/supportive housewife for the show. Had her scientific knowledge been played up more, she could have figured more strongly into some of the plots. But nearly five decades later, in 2013, her alter ego, actress June Lockhart, became the third celebrity and only the first actress to receive NASA's Exceptional Public Achievement Award for "inspiring the public on space exploration." She called it "the highest honor of my life.” Perhaps the producers should have stuck with their original trajectory for Maureen.

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8 Tricks to Help Your Cat and Dog to Get Along
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When people aren’t debating whether cats or dogs are more intelligent, they’re equating them as mortal foes. That’s a stereotype that both cat expert Jackson Galaxy, host of the Animal Planet show My Cat From Hell, and certified dog trainer Zoe Sandor want to break.

Typically, cats are aloof and easily startled, while dogs are gregarious and territorial. This doesn't mean, however, that they can't share the same space—they're just going to need your help. “If cats and dogs are brought up together in a positive, loving, encouraging environment, they’re going to be friends,” Galaxy tells Mental Floss. “Or at the very least, they’ll tolerate each other.”

The duo has teamed up in a new Animal Planet series, Cat Vs. Dog, which airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. The show chronicles their efforts to help pet owners establish long-lasting peace—if not perfect harmony—among cats and dogs. (Yes, it’s possible.) Gleaned from both TV and off-camera experiences, here are eight tips Galaxy and Sandor say will help improve household relations between Fido and Fluffy.

1. TAKE PERSONALITY—NOT BREED—INTO ACCOUNT.

Contrary to popular belief, certain breeds of cats and dogs don't typically get along better than others. According to Galaxy and Sandor, it’s more important to take their personalities and energy levels into account. If a dog is aggressive and territorial, it won’t be a good fit in a household with a skittish cat. In contrast, an aging dog would hate sharing his space with a rambunctious kitten.

If two animals don’t end up being a personality match, have a backup plan, or consider setting up a household arrangement that keeps them separated for the long term. And if you’re adopting a pet, do your homework and ask its previous owners or shelter if it’s lived with other animals before, or gets along with them.

2. TRAIN YOUR DOG.

To set your dog up for success with cats, teach it to control its impulses, Sandor says. Does it leap across the kitchen when someone drops a cookie, or go on high alert when it sees a squeaky toy? If so, it probably won’t be great with cats right off the bat, since it will likely jump up whenever it spots a feline.

Hold off Fido's face time with Fluffy until the former is trained to stay put. And even then, keep a leash handy during the first several cat-dog meetings.

3. GIVE A CAT ITS OWN TERRITORY BEFORE IT MEETS A DOG.

Cats need a protected space—a “base camp” of sorts—that’s just theirs, Galaxy says. Make this refuge off-limits to the dog, but create safe spaces around the house, too. This way, the cat can confidently navigate shared territory without trouble from its canine sibling.

Since cats are natural climbers, Galaxy recommends taking advantage of your home’s vertical space. Buy tall cat trees, install shelves, or place a cat bed atop a bookcase. This allows your cat to observe the dog from a safe distance, or cross a room without touching the floor.

And while you’re at it, keep dogs away from the litter box. Cats should feel safe while doing their business, plus dogs sometimes (ew) like to snack on cat feces, a bad habit that can cause your pooch to contract intestinal parasites. These worms can cause a slew of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.

Baby gates work in a pinch, but since some dogs are escape artists, prepare for worst-case scenarios by keeping the litter box uncovered and in an open space. That way, the cat won’t be cornered and trapped mid-squat.

4. EXERCISE YOUR DOG'S BODY AND MIND.

“People exercise their dogs probably 20 percent of what they should really be doing,” Sandor says. “It’s really important that their energy is released somewhere else so that they have the ability to slow down their brains and really control themselves when they’re around kitties.”

Dogs also need lots of stimulation. Receiving it in a controlled manner makes them less likely to satisfy it by, say, chasing a cat. For this, Sandor recommends toys, herding-type activities, lure coursing, and high-intensity trick training.

“Instead of just taking a walk, stop and do a sit five times on every block,” she says. “And do direction changes three times on every block, or speed changes two times. It’s about unleashing their herding instincts and prey drive in an appropriate way.”

If you don’t have time for any of these activities, Zoe recommends hiring a dog walker, or enrolling in doggy daycare.

5. LET CATS AND DOGS FOLLOW THEIR NOSES.

In Galaxy's new book, Total Cat Mojo, he says it’s a smart idea to let cats and dogs sniff each other’s bedding and toys before a face-to-face introduction. This way, they can satisfy their curiosity and avoid potential turf battles.

6. PLAN THE FIRST CAT/DOG MEETING CAREFULLY.

Just like humans, cats and dogs have just one good chance to make a great first impression. Luckily, they both love food, which might ultimately help them love each other.

Schedule the first cat-dog meeting during mealtime, but keep the dog on a leash and both animals on opposite sides of a closed door. They won’t see each other, but they will smell each other while chowing down on their respective foods. They’ll begin to associate this smell with food, thus “making it a good thing,” Galaxy says.

Do this every mealtime for several weeks, before slowly introducing visual simulation. Continue feeding the cat and dog separately, but on either side of a dog gate or screen, before finally removing it all together. By this point, “they’re eating side-by-side, pretty much ignoring each other,” Galaxy says. For safety’s sake, continue keeping the dog on a leash until you’re confident it’s safe to take it off (and even then, exercise caution).

7. KEEP THEIR FOOD AND TOYS SEPARATE.

After you've successfully ingratiated the cat and dog using feeding exercises, keep their food bowls separate. “A cat will walk up to the dog bowl—either while the dog’s eating, or in the vicinity—and try to eat out of it,” Galaxy says. “The dog just goes to town on them. You can’t assume that your dog isn’t food-protective or resource-protective.”

To prevent these disastrous mealtime encounters, schedule regular mealtimes for your pets (no free feeding!) and place the bowls in separate areas of the house, or the cat’s dish up on a table or another high spot.

Also, keep a close eye on the cat’s toys—competition over toys can also prompt fighting. “Dogs tend to get really into catnip,” Galaxy says. “My dog loves catnip a whole lot more than my cats do.”

8. CONSIDER RAISING A DOG AND CAT TOGETHER (IF YOU CAN).

Socializing these animals at a young age can be easier than introducing them as adults—pups are easily trainable “sponges” that soak up new information and situations, Sandor says. Plus, dogs are less confident and smaller at this stage in life, allowing the cat to “assume its rightful position at the top of the hierarchy,” she adds.

Remain watchful, though, to ensure everything goes smoothly—especially when the dog hits its rambunctious “teenage” stage before becoming a full-grown dog.

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Animals
10 Juicy Facts About Sea Apples

They're both gorgeous and grotesque. Sea apples, a type of marine invertebrate, have dazzling purple, yellow, and blue color schemes streaking across their bodies. But some of their habits are rather R-rated. Here’s what you should know about these weird little creatures.

1. THEY’RE SEA CUCUMBERS.

The world’s oceans are home to more than 1200 species of sea cucumber. Like sand dollars and starfish, sea cucumbers are echinoderms: brainless, spineless marine animals with skin-covered shells and a complex network of internal hydraulics that enables them to get around. Sea cucumbers can thrive in a range of oceanic habitats, from Arctic depths to tropical reefs. They're a fascinating group with colorful popular names, like the “burnt hot dog sea cucumber” (Holothuria edulis) and the sea pig (Scotoplanes globosa), a scavenger that’s been described as a “living vacuum cleaner.”

2. THEY'RE NATIVE TO THE WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN.

Sea apples have oval-shaped bodies and belong to the genus Pseudocolochirus and genus Paracacumaria. The animals are indigenous to the western Pacific, where they can be found shuffling across the ocean floor in shallow, coastal waters. Many different types are kept in captivity, but two species, Pseudocolochirus violaceus and Pseudocolochirus axiologus, have proven especially popular with aquarium hobbyists. Both species reside along the coastlines of Australia and Southeast Asia.

3. THEY EAT WITH MUCUS-COVERED TENTACLES.

Sea cucumbers, the ocean's sanitation crew, eat by swallowing plankton, algae, and sandy detritus at one end of their bodies and then expelling clean, fresh sand out their other end. Sea apples use a different technique. A ring of mucus-covered tentacles around a sea apple's mouth snares floating bits of food, popping each bit into its mouth one at a time. In the process, the tentacles are covered with a fresh coat of sticky mucus, and the whole cycle repeats.

4. THEY’RE ACTIVE AT NIGHT.

Sea apples' waving appendages can look delicious to predatory fish, so the echinoderms minimize the risk of attracting unwanted attention by doing most of their feeding at night. When those tentacles aren’t in use, they’re retracted into the body.

5. THE MOVE ON TUBULAR FEET.

The rows of yellow protuberances running along the sides of this specimen are its feet. They allow sea apples to latch onto rocks and other hard surfaces while feeding. And if one of these feet gets severed, it can grow back.

6. SOME FISH HANG OUT IN SEA APPLES' BUTTS.

Sea apples are poisonous, but a few marine freeloaders capitalize on this very quality. Some small fish have evolved to live inside the invertebrates' digestive tracts, mooching off the sea apples' meals and using their bodies for shelter. In a gross twist of evolution, fish gain entry through the back door, an orifice called the cloaca. In addition expelling waste, the cloaca absorbs fresh oxygen, meaning that sea apples/cucumbers essentially breathe through their anuses.

7. WHEN THREATENED, SEA APPLES CAN EXPAND.

Most full-grown adult sea apples are around 3 to 8 inches long, but they can make themselves look twice as big if they need to escape a threat. By pulling extra water into their bodies, some can grow to the size of a volleyball, according to Advanced Aquarist. After puffing up, they can float on the current and away from danger. Some aquarists might mistake the robust display as a sign of optimum health, but it's usually a reaction to stress.

8. THEY CAN EXPEL THEIR OWN GUTS.

Sea apples use their vibrant appearance to broadcast that they’re packing a dangerous toxin. But to really scare off predators, they puke up some of their own innards. When an attacker gets too close, sea apples can expel various organs through their orifices, and some simultaneously unleash a cloud of the poison holothurin. In an aquarium, the holothurin doesn’t disperse as widely as it would in the sea, and it's been known to wipe out entire fish tanks.

9. SEA APPLES LAY TOXIC EGGS.

These invertebrates reproduce sexually; females release eggs that are later fertilized by clouds of sperm emitted by the males. As many saltwater aquarium keepers know all too well, sea apple eggs are not suitable fish snacks—because they’re poisonous. Scientists have observed that, in Pseudocolochirus violaceus at least, the eggs develop into small, barrel-shaped larvae within two weeks of fertilization.

10. THEY'RE NOT EASILY CONFUSED WITH THIS TREE SPECIES.

Syzgium grande is a coastal tree native to Southeast Asia whose informal name is "sea apple." When fully grown, they can stand more than 140 feet tall. Once a year, it produces attractive clusters of fuzzy white flowers and round green fruits, perhaps prompting its comparison to an apple tree.

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