This Easter long weekend just gone was not much fun for me since I was stricken down with a nasty bug and spent the weekend coughing violently 24/7, a congested head and feeling like absolute shit. Lots of bedrest and inbetween naps, I decided to watch some old episodes of “Lost In Space”, one of my favourite TV shows from when I was a kid.
One thing that I realised is that despite the wonders of robots, ray guns, trans mats, spaceships and so on, the one piece of technology that totally transfixed me was Maureen Robinson’s washing machine.
It didn’t look radically different to the washing machines we know apart from a few flashing lights but it worked totally differently.
Maureen would come along with the laundry basket, put the dirty clothes in, press a few buttons, dispense a pearl of wisdom to defuse whatever situation was going on around her and 10 seconds later, the washing cycle would be complete. She would then take out the clothes out of the machine while dispensing another pearl. The amazing thing was that each item of clothing was washed, pressed, folded and individually wrapped in plastic. All in 10 seconds. Now that is cutting edge technology. Imagine how much time it would save and for someone like who hates ironing, what a godsend.
It also occured to me while watching these episodes how much of a trailblazer Maureen Robinson was. On the surface it may have seemed like she was the typical TV mother of the time, always left behind out of danger, doing the domestic chores, providing emotional support but Maureen Robinson was so much more.
Firstly, she was no mere Mrs Robinson, she was Doctor Maureen Robinson. Her doctorate may have only ever been mentioned in the first episode in passing but it indicated an educated and intelligent woman.
Secondly, it may have seemed like she was domesticated but Maureen used all the time-saving devices from the afore-mentioned washing machine to the automatic hairstyler helmet (“I think you’d look better with a 476, dear”). She certainly wasn’t chained to the sink.
Thirdly, Maureen had balls. She would speak up and step up when the situation warranted. She would face down aliens, speak her mind and basically do what she had to do to protect her family. When her husband was drifting in space, it was Maureen who suited up and went out to recuse him.
Maureen Robinson is one of the great TV mothers of all time which is a credit to the wonderful June Lockhart who breathed life into the character we all came to love back in the 60s.