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On a blue alien planet, a man stands in an arena, watched by 5 alien beings. They are testing the man's mental and physical abilities. His identity is that of a man 27 years old, born in 1951 on planet Earth.
Irwin Allen's adaptation of the 1812 novel by Johann David Wyss follows the adventures of the Karl Robinson, his wife, two boys, and an orphaned girl, who wash up on a volcanic island after a shipwreck. Also on the island is Jeremiah Worth, who was marooned there seven years earlier. Written by
Viewed when I was ten years old (in 1976) and watched in a surprising number of Australian re-runs right up to 1990. If it were not for this series, my childhood knowledge of "The Swiss Family Robinson" story would of been zero. I never read the book or watched any other version, this Irwin Allen version was it! And you knew Irwin made it, each episode began with, "IRWIN ALLEN'S PRODUCTION OF ... THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON". How many producers get the name before the title? And those titles and the series background scores were done with wonderful Richard LaSalle music playing. LaSalle had worked on Irwin TV in the 1960s and it was these 1960s connections that made this series okay and sometimes good.
Towards the end of the 20 episode season, a two part episode appeared called "Jean Lafitte", this was the only show to leave the island and go to sea and then to land. Several 1960s Irwin names appear - Whit Bissell (Time Tunnel), John Zaremba (Time Tunnel), Leonard Stone (Lost In Space guest star twice), John Crawford (he appeared in ALL Irwin TV shows), and Harry Harris (often used Irwin director) directed it.
William Welch returns from the bottom of the sea via the time tunnel to become the story editor of the whole series and he wrote just one episode about more people coming to the lost island.
Other quality guest stars for the series include John Vernon (in the opening two hour movie), Leslie Neilson, and ex-Phantom Alfred Ryder.
I think Irwin was playing a joke on viewers in the last episode - The Devils - screened on March 28, 1976. All 1960s Irwin TV shows began in a mildly realistic way and then went over the top with crazy story lines. Irwin seemed to be suggesting this with Swiss Family Robinson as well. In The Devils, something is seen moving through the dark, it appears to be a huge bat. Karl (the father) finds the garden destroyed and the livestock missing? Later, strange lights are seen in the sky. The Devil MAY have arrived on the island?
I have made this short lived series seem rather good, but as most of you may know, they say Irwin made "The Big Four" not "The Big Five". Perhaps the regular characters in the series were all just a bit too pure for the 1970s. Maybe this series should of been made in the 1950s or 1960s? There is nothing that wrong with the regular cast in the series but as I type this review I struggle to remember any "golden bits" with the regulars.
Another IMDb reviewer said that this was Irwin's last series but that is not true! A one season TV series called Code Red (about fire fighters) appeared after Swiss, but more importantly, a three episode mini-series - The Return Of Captain Nemo - appeared in 1978. Nemo is HIGHLY under-rated! In fact, Nemo is in my top six science fiction TV shows of all time!
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