THE MECHANICAL MAN
First Aired: 9-21-1969 (27)
On a dark night, Fitzhugh, Mark (wearing a brown leather jacket), and Steve hide from the tallest giant they've ever seen. He wrecks a drug store, causes a fire, then kills a special policeman--who shoots him three times with no effect. Fitzhugh runs, afraid they are being watched from a window. Mark runs after him--and both are captured by another, smaller giant named Professor Altoph Gorn--who drops his hat over them.
Steve calls Betty who is in the cockpit of Spindrift. She calls the others inside. Steve asks for Dan and Val to come to the area, warning that police will be all over the place, then Steve follows Gorn. Betty and Barry monitor the SID channels. Dan and Val hear Captain Ray call to some Inspector, blaming the little people for breaking the dead policeman's neck! He figures they were after medicine in the drugstore. When Val asks if Steve was planning on going to a drugstore, Dan tells her no and adds, "And he wouldn't even think of killing a man." The tall giant walks through the forest just as Chipper falls into quicksand. As Barry watches, the giant saves the thankful dog. The giant walks off, leaving Barry to clean Chipper. Steve arrives at Gorn's isolated, old house-lab and tells Dan to meet him there just three blocks due west. He uses the electronic telescope which rises up to a window to allow him to view the tall giant working out on gym equipment with an almost hypnotic stare. Gorn needs help from a scientist to perfect the man--who is a super giant robot. He tells Mark and Fitz his government will give them its gratitude. Mark tells him, "We've had ample proof of your government's gratitude." Gorn introduces himself as having come from Polk Institute. Mark tells him, "I'm Mark Wilson, Cal Tech, and MIT designer and consultant of Space Technology." When Gorn asks what Fitz does, Mark comments, "What the rest of us do--he fights for survival." Steve tells Dan and Val about the new giant while Dan uses the thermal gun to drill a hole into a plaster inner wall. Mark offers Gorn a theory about the adrenalin gland, which a disbelieving Gorn tests on Fitzhugh by dropping a possum into the cage with the man. Gorn makes his aide, Zoral, poke Fitzhugh with a pencil to make him move.Drilling into a storeroom from the inner wall, the other three hear Fitz's blood curdling screams!
Fitzhugh gets out of the cage's spring door and collapses. The others come out of the storeroom, putting the cut piece of wall back in place. Steve allows an asking Valerie to go with he and Dan into the main lab. The scientists tested Fitz's blood. Mark tells Fitz, "You lose more blood when you cut yourself shaving." Val and Steve look at Fitzhugh through the telescope device when the giants show Mark more diagrams in their office. An SID man shows up and stupidly suspects nothing, despite bullet holes in the hypnotic man's clothes, and leaves. Steve warns Betty for she and Barry to stay at the ship due to an SID dragnet. Another test on the robot ends in failure: it breaks free of its chains (dropping pieces near Dan, Val, and Steve), knocks Gorn down, and steps on the one man cage Gorn dropped---with Mark inside!
Dan checks as the giants bring Mark to the office. The other two alert Fitz to their presence. Gorn promises Mark that if he fixes the hydraulic man, he will do everything to get them back to Earth. Mark finds a leakage inside the robot's chest unit and tapes it up. The power inside is enough to light up a small town. They test Mark's work by making the robot pick up Fitzhugh and hold him in the air. Steve says, "Mark is too much. Give him some tools and he can fix anything." Gorn ignores Mark's urgent pleas for the giant to keep his word---what about his promise to help them get back to Earth?
Fitz tells Mark not to lose hope, "Steve is here with Dan and Valerie. We're not finished yet." Gorn invites Secretary Mek of the Supreme Council to a test before dawn, Mek wanting to have a second hydraulic man made. Fitz, with Valerie's help, creates a major diversion so Mark, with Dan and Steve's help, can build a new control unit. Val gets the giants to chase her into the office from behind a cabinet. They catch her when she hides in a storage box. Fitz, with prompting from a drink, stalls with lies which the giants write down. Fitz blames Betty for the destruction of a munitions dump near the airport (which was done by the Force for Freedom). He claims Dan could not be executed on Earth for his many crimes because no one could catch him and tells them Betty is the most ruthless of them all. He tells Gorn they left him behind since he is not a scientist or a murderer and that they left the girl behind because she pleaded for his life. Fitz avoids signing their notes and their questions about their hiding place by acting drunk. Val salutes him for his performance later on when they are put back in the big cage. Inside the robot's chest, the three men set in their own control when Mek arrives. The robot begins working out and they fall all over...their control isn't working!
Steve finds a loose wire allowing Mark to connect it. Their control cuts in and the robot is under their power. It lets Fitz and Val go, then allows the three men to jump out. Mark sends the robot to its destruction. It attacks the giants and corners Gorn. Val gasped, "Mark, you've got to stop it!" However, Mark's unit couldn't work after he and the robot was too far apart. Mek and Zoral escape but Gorn is killed and the robot destroyed. Back at camp, Barry stares into the campfire after Mr. Fitzhugh told him about the robot. Fitz tries to cheer him up and explain about, "the monster, created by a madman, bent on torture and murder." Barry tells him the robot saved Chipper's life. Fitz claims, "I guess I don't know what I'm talking about, I mean--not exactly." Barry smiles and Fitzhugh tells him it is time for bed.
REVIEW: An entertaining episode made more than routine by the contribution of Broderick Crawford who made Gorn a multi layered, crusty, untrustworthy Dr. Frankenstein type. The so called robot seemed to be part levers and pulleys, part computerized, part hydraulic. Val wore her blue jacket again and is much more amiable, even asking Steve to go with he and Dan, instead of just staying behind. In the past, if she had to stay behind, she wouldn't ask to go along---she'd simply break the rules, disobey orders, and follow anyway! The effects and camera work are extremely well done. The sequences with Mark in the smaller one man cage which can attach to the bigger cage is very good. At times, when it is held by Gorn, we can see it move slowly--as if it really were dangling in the air. The sequence where Mark talks to Gorn and Zoral from behind a small glass-plastic (?) partition as they are in the office is also well filmed, with lots of adequate special effects going on. The possum attack on Fitzhugh was great FX. The full wall body panel can be seen in many other Irwin Allen shows--among these are LOST IN SPACE's CONDEMNED OF SPACE and THE LOST CIVILIZATION, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA's THE CYBORG, and TIME TUNNEL's RAIDERS FROM OUTER SPACE. Some robots used today really do use hydraulics. The cockpit control room in Spindrift was very well lit and a rarely seen cross beam (with lights on it) is viewed. The control room would be seen only a few more times. The passenger compartment, not seen since THE FLIGHT PLAN, is never seen again. The total Richard LaSalle score was used throughout the episode and is very nice. The end theme song was the first season end theme song, mixed to a shorter version of the first season opening theme song. The step stool here leads to a flat giant stone which leads to the doorway into and out of Spindrift. If Mark could fix everything, as Steve bragged, why couldn't he fix the Spindrift? The stupid policeman not only doesn't see Fitzhugh in a cage covered by a sheet but he doesn't spot the three bullet holes in the giant robot's clothes and the robot is said to be one of Gorn's aides who is resting while thinking out a problem--staring like a zombie. Oh, well, the cop figures and then leaves! While the belief that the little people could break a giant's neck goes along with the way the blame the earthlings in the past, it is a bit much to think they'd believe a little person could break a giant's neck! Thus, Mek had to be in the story for the authorities to see that it probably wasn't them. Judging from past experience it could either way that Mek would relay this truth to the authorities. The whole belief does fit in nicely with the we'll-believe-any-propaganda set up in SABOTAGE and mentioned in SHELL GAME. This episode like CHAMBER OF FEAR takes place entirely at night. Betty gets another reduced role back at the ship's radio while Barry had just a little more to do--and the character's sensitivity is explored briefly. He and Fitz share a scene at the end furthering the characterizations. The musical bit when Chipper is in the quicksand sounds a great deal like a variation on some cuts from Bernard Herrman's THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL music. Stuart Margolin is now directing and has directed episodes of the fantastic Canadian series NEON RIDER including the two hour pilot. (NEON RIDER is about a former psychologist-writer who changes his ways when he inherits a ranch from an uncle--and he then takes in a load of juvenile delinquents, handicapped children, and other problem kids--helping out on the ranch instead of in the city. Winston Reckart of ADDERLY fame, played Mike Terry through six all-too-short seasons. A realistic, well meaning, action packed series with meaning and love.)