Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Dance Party: Danger, Will Robinson

What a week it's been, for the whole country, even the world, but especially for those of us who live in DC. An amazing, historic week, which deserves to be honored any way we can. It's time for a respectful, hopeful, and most of all, dignified tribute to a new era of competence and inspiration.

Well, you'll have to go someplace else for that. Instead, let's honor somebody else. Here's a guy of whom you may never have heard, until his death this week brought him back into the national spotlight. Everyone "of a certain age" has seen Bob May, though they may not have known it. Here he is:

Still don't recognize him? Here's a better shot:

He's the guy on the left.

The story goes that May was wandering around the studio one day when someone said, "Go over and see Irwin Allen. He needs somebody to wear a robot suit." That day, a star was born. Though May did not furnish the voice of Lost in Space's robot, he turned those accordion arms and claw hands, not to mention the bubble head, into an endearing character. After a year or so on the air, it was apparent that what was envisioned as an ensemble show had three break-out stars. Jonathan Harris's portrayal of Dr. Smith, originally a villainous saboteur whose actions caused the space travelers to veer hopelessly off-course, evolved into a masterfully comic performance. Billy Mumy, as Will Robinson, the youngest astronaut in history, provided Harris with a grounded counterweight. And Bob May's Robot (voiced by Dick Tufeld, who deserves equal credit) became the comic foil. The chemistry between the three performers was undeniable, and in its later years, the majority of episodes of Lost in Space centered around this trio.

So, with due respect for the momentous events of the week, and recognizing that monumental change is on the way for all of us, please enjoy this homage to Lost in Space: