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Some Surprises Found in 'Lost in Space' DVD Edition

Interviews and more give insight on the making of a misfire and the movie that might have been.

October 22, 1998|ERNESTO LECHNER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Some digital media special editions give you a privileged insight into the making of a masterpiece, analyzing the factors that came together for the creation of a timeless film.

New Line's DVD "Platinum Edition" of "Lost in Space" is a different kind of animal altogether; it offers a close-up view into the making of a misfire. But its many features are actually enlightening beyond the morbid curiosity of merely dissecting a flop.

The first shock comes when you hear the voice of director Stephen Hopkins, who a few minutes into his feature-length commentary with writer Akiva Goldsman mentions Shakespeare's "Richard III" and "Lost in Space" in the same sentence. You soon begin wondering how two bright, articulate craftsmen, who list the TV series as their childhood's favorite, managed to rob the film version of the charm that made the original such a campy treat.

A plotless mess, "Lost in Space" is yet another casualty in the studios' constant struggle to create homogenized, theme-park-friendly entertainment for as wide an audience as possible. At one point, Goldsman is honest enough to say that both the original script and the director's cut of the film were much darker in tone than the finished studio version.

Curiously enough, one of the movie's best moments, a scene in which teeny-bopper Penny Robinson discovers an adult version of the cutesy Blawp (a computer-generated pet that accompanies the family on their space odyssey), was excised from the film and is included on a deleted-scenes section. You will also find a second audio commentary with key crew members, a featurette on the scientific possibilities of future space traveling and a wonderful section devoted to the '60s series with episode guides and interviews with the original actors.

There is also a plethora of computer games and more information, which is available only to those with a DVD-ROM drive using Windows 95 or 98. Unfortunately, the disc won't work in a regular CD-ROM drive or on Macintosh.

CURRENT RELEASES

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"Fanny" (1961, Image) Tender, poetic and colorful, the enchanting adaptation of Marcel Pagnol's famous trilogy is Hollywood melodrama at its best. Its debut on laserdisc boasts a superb transfer.

DVD

"Logan's Run" (1976, MGM) The special edition of the sci-fi adventure that launched its own (and short-lived) TV show includes an audio commentary with director Michael Anderson.

Note: Ernesto Lechner's Digital Media column will appear every Thursday in Calendar Weekend. You can reach him online at LechnerE@aol.com.

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