Welcome to Fall, 2008. Of course, the actual date Autumn begins is September 22 but, for each of us, Fall begins at different times and in different ways. Labor Day, start of school, NFL Kickoff, Jerry Lewis Telethon, take your pick.
For me – and probably ONLY ME – it was an annual airing of the 1966 LOST IN SPACE episode “Blast Off into Space”! No, wait… Lemme explain…
Each year in the East Meadow (NY) School District, the day following Labor Day was our “last day of freedom”. That day would be a Tuesday, and school would begin on Wednesday. Also, during the years of 1969-1974, LOST IN SPACE would air every weekday afternoon – from September thru June on what was then WNEW TV Metromedia 5 (…or “MM5” as their logo put it) and what is now FOX 5 New York.
Above left: Strother Martin, Billy Mumy, and Jonathan Harris in “Blast Off Into Space”.
Labor Day on Channel 5 was, of course, always reserved for the abovementioned Jerry Lewis Telethon, and then – on each “Day-After-Labor-Day-Tuesday”, starting in 1970 – Channel 5 would bring back LOST IN SPACE, beginning the rotation with the first color episode and the second season premiere “Blast Off Into Space”.
Guy Williams and Mark Goddard in “Blast Off Into Space”.
Naturally, being deprived of the Robinsons, Doctor Smith, and everyone’s favorite nameless Robot for an entire summer, it would be an annual date for this reunion, each “Tuesday, September-whatever”. There was the feel of a “special occasion” because it was one of the very last things I’d enjoy before another dreaded year of school. It wasn’t a “ritual” as much as “something that just happened” each year.
Long after LOST IN SPACE gave its afternoon slot over to seventies sit-coms, eighties sit-coms, trashy talk shows, a brief glimmer of quality animated blocks in the nineties that gave us DUCKTALES, BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES, and ANIMANIACS among others, and early newscasts that would increasingly encroach upon what was once an “afternoon preserve” of entertainment programming, I would continue to associate LOST IN SPACE with weekday afternoons… more so than with its original run in prime time.
…And, more specifically, I would continue to associate “Blast Off Into Space” with the end of summer and the beginning of fall!
June Lockhart in “Blast Off Into Space”.
If I recall correctly, the last such year “Blast Off Into Space” would kick off my Personal Fall Season was 1974… and the tradition would go dark for three decades. By 2004, the new age of TV-Shows-on-DVD would be in full swing, and LOST IN SPACE was one of the very first classic series to be collected in this medium.
Alas, LOST IN SPACE Season Two, Volume One – the DVD volume containing “Blast Off Into Space” – would be released on September 14, 2004, a week or so late for “Day-After-Labor-Day-Tuesday”. But, since 2005, and thanks to DVD, that tradition has been revived and what has become a common, ordinary workday once again has a glimmer of “Something Special” to it.
Jonathan Harris in “Blast Off Into Space”.
Needless to say, the tradition was maintained again this day. And, hey… it’s not as wacky as SEINFELD’S “Festivus”!