Doctor Who and Lost in Space are two of my favourite shows. Both are series that blur the line between science fiction and fantasy which makes them both seem somewhat more unusual programmes as most other cult series such as Star Trek or Buffy tend to be exclusively one or the other. Whilst Lost in Space was definitely more humorous in fact its really the first big sci fi comedy, I still would say that there are similarities between the two shows. Of course I am not saying that either series stole its ideas from the other, but I just find it interesting that they do touch on some of the same subjects probably because they are among the few series to blend sci fi and fantasy so well and they are both such genuinely surrealist series too though again Lost in Space’s surrealism takes on a more humorous tone than Who at their core they are very similar types of programmes.
So lets take a look at the biggest similarities between them shall we.
1/ The Premise
The initial premise for Doctor Who was somewhat similar to Lost in Space. During its first two years Doctor Who really revolved around Ian and Barbara two humans who had been basically kidnapped by the Doctor and were lost in space effectively from their earth with a large theme of the first two years revolving around the Doctor trying to get them back home with Ian and Barbara hating being trapped with the Doctor and desperately longing for earth. Obviously Lost in Space’s premise revolves around the main characters being well lost in space and being desperate to get home. Both the TARDIS and the Jupiter 2 are broken down ships in comparison to say the Star ship enterprise. Our main characters are constantly struggling to try and fly them properly in order to get back to earth. This I feel ties into the surrealist nature of both shows quite well as unlike say Star Trek where we have a really sleek ship that takes them wherever they want to go and our heroes are on a mission in both Lost in Space and Doctor Who the main characters are merely roaming endlessly and have no more idea where they are going to end up each week as much as the audience. Obviously over time Doctor Who’s premise changed as he was able to pilot the TARDIS properly, but initially its premise was similar to Lost in Space as both revolved around travellers wanting to get back to earth.
2/ Both have ships that are bigger on the inside
In a very early episode of Lost in Space called “Invaders from the 5th Dimension” the Jupiter 2 encounter a hostile race of aliens whose spaceship is a tiny little craft on the outside, but on the inside it is absolutely huge with the aliens stating that the inside is in a different dimension to the outside. With Doctor Who well does it need said which ship is exactly the same? Doctor Who came before Lost in Space in case you are wondering, however Doctor Who was not shown in America during the 1960’s so the creators of Lost in Space most likely would not have seen it. I think again both ideas demonstrate a mix of sci fi and fantasy unlike say Star Trek. The idea of a ship being bigger on the inside than the outside is verging on magic, with many having even compared the TARDIS to a magic carpet, or the wardrobe to Narnia. However both are still presented in a way that is more akin to science fiction being explained away through semi scientific means.
3/ Both have characters that regenerate
Whenever he is mortally wounded the Doctor has the ability to regenerate and take on a new form. It is this process that has allowed the show to last for so long as whenever an actor playing the role decides to leave the doctor simply regenerates and takes on a new form. In an episode of Lost in Space’s third season we are introduced to the character of Creech and alien criminal who is said to have the power to regenerate when he dies similar to the time lords ability to regenerate. Sadly this power whilst talked about is not shown as Creech is killed at the end by desintigration. This episode was produced after Patrick Troughton had taken over from William Hartnell, but before the process was fully explained as being a natural process the doctors people went through in order to cheat death or even called regeneration. Thus Lost in Space sort of had the idea first. Once again both ideas demonstrate a weird mix of science fiction and fantasy as the idea of regeneration is essentially the same as reincarnation the idea of coming back to life as a different person, but with the same basic core and essence. However once again both are presented in a way that is more science fiction with both being described as simply a natural process rather than the work of magic.
4/ Both feature episodes about a villain who is an amalgam of the heroes darker side
The Doctor Who story Trial of a Time Lord revolves around the Valeyard a being who is created from the Doctors darker impulses between his penultimate and final forms. The Valeyard attempts to steal the Doctors body in order to prolong his own life. In the Lost in Space episode The Space Creature the team encounter a monster who is created from Will Robinsons darker impulses and desires who is made flesh and hopes to steal his body in order to prolong his life. Both villains obviously offer us a deep insight into the main heroes minds and again play on both science fiction and fantasy tropes with the idea of a dark doppleganger being a staple of both genres.
5/ Uncle Angus looks like an Axon
The last similarity is the most superficial, but still take a look at this monster from Lost in Space called Uncle Angus
Then take a look at this monster from Doctor Who called an Axon
Kind of the same aren’t they? Though the concepts behind them are totally different with the Axons being space parasites and Angus being a Scottish ghost cursed to remain in a horrible form for ever at the bottom of a swamp. We never find out what it was Angus did to be cursed so horribly, but as Will Robinson said it must have been pretty fucking horrible to be turned into an Axon forever.