Apr 192023

Lost in Space is a science fiction TV series about a family stranded in deep space. Episode S02E25 “The Colonists” aired March 15, 1967.

Many science fiction or fantasy TV series would include episodes that featured amazonian or matriarchal societies, doubtless for an element of sex appeal and the carnivalesque pleasure of inverting gender roles.

In this episode, the crew of the Jupiter 2 encounter Niolani (played by Francine York), a warrior woman of the Condor Nation, who coerces the men of the crew into manual labor to build a device for her comrades to colonize the planet. The women of the crew are waited on hand and foot by Niolani’s men and indoctrinated with a “conditioning machine”, so they become straw-woman caricatures of second-wave feminists. Meanwhile, Dr. Smith, the camp gay stowaway and troublemaker, ingratiates himself with Niolani, who finds him agreeable despite his less-than-manly physique and “artistic talents”. She names him her consort, and puts him in charge of the others.

York’s costume (designed by Paul Zaptusnevich) is a black, sparkling suit, black knee boots, a black cape with red lining, red gloves, and a black spiked head piece. (It bears a resemblance to Phyllis Laffan’s costume in Devil Girl from Mars (1954).) She has a habit of waving around a sceptre.

Niolani is presented as an odd combination of advanced and primitive. Her technology completely overwhelms the weapons and defenses of the crew, but she still requires manual laborers for her plan. She is a space traveler, but gets around reclining on a chaise lounge pulled by her male servants. She spends most of her time lounging in a cave while the men of the Jupiter 2 are at work.

When the men find out they will be dragged off to work on other colonization projects, their attempted revolt is quickly put down. Another escape attempt is interrupted by Smith, but Will and the Robot use it as a diversion to get weapons. It comes down to Will getting Smith to put a bomb in place and foil Niolani’s plan. The bomb goes off, the invading craft turns around, and Niolani has to report to her queen, disgraced for having been defeated by men. She tearfully laments she will be consigned to a life of “cooking, cleaning, laundry, sniveling children.” She vanishes in a puff of smoke.

Francine York played another “evil space queen” character, named Queen Medusa, in Jason of Star Command. This time she wore a purple body suit and a crown, combined with a sceptre weapon.

  One Response to “Lost in Space S02E25 “The Colonists”: The Celluloid Dungeon”

  1. […] costume resembles that worn by Francine York in the episode “The Colonists” of the American TV series Lost in Space. However, the film and the TV episode were released only months apart so it seems unlikely one […]

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