When the Netflix reboot of Lost in Space opens up you see the Robinson family sitting around a table playing Go Fish. You can tell that something is going on but not quite sure what all is happening. That’s pretty much how the entire first episode goes. You ain’t quite sure what is going on or why. It’s like trying to find your way around an unfamiliar room in the middle of the night without the benefit of lights. You think you know where everything is. But not sure enough about it make any real confident steps.
The show hits the ground running at full speed. There’s tension between the entire family directed at Dad. They are in a precarious spot but you’re not really sure why. But after the first episode, those gaping holes begin to get filled in. By the time episode three is over, you know enough about the backstory of the primary characters to understand who they are and why they act towards each other the way they do. Most of this is done by flashback scenes that take place on Earth shortly before the family left.
This is No Camp Out
If you’re expecting Sci-fi camp like the original TV series, you’re going to be disappointed, in many ways this reboot is a little closer to the movie reboot from 1998 in look and feel then it is to the original without lame special effects.
Complicated and realistic dynamics
The family members are far from perfect. John Robinson (Toby Stephens) isn’t well respected. He was in the military and away from the family allot and it becomes pretty obvious that Maureen Robinson (Molly Parker) has a tough time trusting his decision-making skills. Judy Robinson (Taylor Russell) isn’t John’s biological daughter. Rather he adopted her after he and Maureen got married. Interestingly, she shares much of his personality quirks which can make things awkward between the two. He respects her sense of adventure because he shares it. But she doesn’t respect his position in the family because he’s been largely absent. Penny and Will Robinson are both typical young kids. Penny barely in her teens while Will is barely out of the single digits. These two are slightly tighter-knit in their relationship but still have your typical child squabbling.
In a switch from your regular roles, Dr. Smith (Parker Posey) is now a female. While closer to Gary Oldman’s portrayal in the 1998 movie, his Dr. Smith could learn a thing or two from how Parker portrays the character. Don’t expect this one to be used for comic relief very often. At least not in the first season. The original Dr. Smith was a person that you didn’t like or trust, but you never really wanted to see him tossed out an airlock while traveling through space either. This one you can’t help but wonder why they just don’t.
Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) is treated much differently here than other versions too. Let’s just say that he shares some common traits with Han Solo from the Star Wars franchise. He’s a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder that you can’t help but like.
Not Lost Alone
Another twist is that in this reboot it isn’t just the Robinson family with the two tag-a-longs Smith and West. In this one there are several families that are on their way to colonize a planet but encounter trouble along the way. Each family has its own Jupiter class ship. By a quirk of circumstances, Smith and West find themselves along with the Robinson’s for the ride.
Playing catch up
I found the first episode the hardest to get through. Not because it wasn’t good but because I felt like I came into a movie 30 minutes after it started. While I can appropriate that most of the time (Think 1989 Batman where Batman is already well established in the movie and you learn about why he decided to become the Batman as the movie progresses).
Here I think they deliberately drew it out to the point where I almost gave up on it. I opted to follow through watching it though. I love the franchise and hoped that they would eventually fill in the blanks without waiting too much longer. Episode two gave me more than enough incentive to follow through with the rest of the series. And by the end of episode three, I felt “caught up”.
Something for Everybody
I’m clearly a Sci-fi fan and while I’m likely to give many movies or TV shows of the genre much more leeway then others, my writing a review of it like this is because I fear a larger audience who would appreciate it may miss it simply because of the 1960’s TV show or the less than memorable reboot movie and think it’s the same thing. Or that you don’t typically like Sci-fi so “why bother”. I think this one is different and better on so many levels, it has clearly geared itself to be enjoyed by the entire family.
My tolerance of swear words tends to be higher than other people I associate with, one thing that did stand out to me was that the producers didn’t take advantage of the “Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV” because they are on Netflix, not over the air. I can only recall one time a word that would fall into that category and when I heard it felt like I was slapped in the face because it was so out of character for the individual who said it. The two that you would most likely expect it from, Don and John, rarely say anything that would cause a red flag… but it could also be said that the reason why you don’t hear them swearing is because they cut to other individuals situated at a different location when these two men would likely be letting loose with a long stream of obscenities too…
This TV series is about individuals growing a bond and heavy in character development. It’s light in Sci-fi special effects and is worthy of being checked out. Hopefully by those who don’t typically like the Sci-fi genre.
(Photo courtesy of Netflix)