Reboots of shows that have left a legacy and a fan base are quite hard to do as the reboot would have to live up to and go the extra mile to go above and beyond to be the best it can be. Aside from that, rebooting a science fiction show is hard because it can’t be too campy and still be a good science fiction show that both old and new fans will enjoy. Such was the case for the recent “Star Trek” series reboot of “Star Trek: Discovery”, and the reboot of the 1960’s beloved science fiction tv show, “Lost in Space”. In this case, Netflix’s “Lost in Space” reboot boasted beautiful visuals and production design, good performances, yet stumbled at times with its own internal logic and failed at giving us a great villain in Dr. Smith. However, despite this, “Lost in Space” was not as agonizingly frustrating as “Discovery”, making it a fun show that can hopefully course correct with a second season if the show is renewed.
Ever since the reboot was announced, many have been wondering how it would be pulled off. The first incarnation of the show aired during the ’60s and gained quite a following. It was then rebooted as a movie in 1998, which ended up as a disaster, as the movie itself was terrible. So, after that disaster of a movie, fans of the original series most probably put their hopes on this series to make up for that.
I myself have never seen the original series, so I cannot really compare this remake to it, but I do remember watching the 1998 movie at home on a rented VHS tape, and all I could remember was that the robot was cool, Lacey Chabert’s Penny was annoying, and that it felt really dark and a little bit of a mess.
Thankfully, this reboot wasn’t a big gigantic mess like the movie, even though it did have some glaring flaws in it that brought down the show a little bit.
For those who don’t know, “Lost in Space” tells the story of the Robinson family, whose ship ends up getting lost in space after they are knocked off course while on a bigger ship, the Resolute, that is en route to a planet in Alpha Centuri, where they would join other families in colonizing the planet. Here, they crash land on a planet, and end up running into an alien robot, other survivors, and the antagonistic Dr. Smith.
The series follows the basic premise of the original series and the movie, and still retains the same main core members of the cast, with the exception of the fact that the Robot here is alien in origin. It also should be noted that the entire premise is actually based on the book “The Swiss Family Robinson”, except that here, the Robinson family is stuck in space rather than a deserted island.
The series starred Molly Parker as Maureen Robinson, Toby Stephens as John Robinson, Taylor Russell as Judy Robinson, Mina Sundwall as Penny Robinson, Maxwell Jenkins as Will Robinson, Ignacio Serricchio as Don West, and Parker Posey as Dr. Smith.
Some of the episodes also featured several flashbacks in an attempt to explain more about what happened to the Earth, the Robinson’s family’s past, and Dr. Smith’s past.
The entire series was just gorgeous visually, from the sets, to the costumes, to the landscapes, cinematography, the ships and vehicles and the Robot. Also, the way the characters handled the set pieces and everything didn’t feel as clunky as other science fiction shows. There wasn’t a lot of science involved, but I did love the family dynamics of the Robinsons, which, in the end, is what makes “Lost in Space” what it is. This is why I didn’t like the fact that they expanded the cast in the latter half of the season, as I would rather concentrate on this family than worry about politics and group dynamics.
The performances of the Robinson family was good, from the adults to the children. I just wish we could have gotten more out of them, but I’m hoping that Season 2, if it happens, will do just that. I was very much impressed with Mina Sundwall as I didn’t like Chabert’s version of the character, and I liked Sundwall’s version of Penny.
The biggest miss of the entire series was Parker Posey’s Dr. Smith. Posey is a brilliant actress and she gave it all that she got, but I didn’t like and understand why this character was written like this. There could have been other ways she could have gotten her end goals, but it looked like she was doing things on the fly, with no real end game in sight. In the same way, I feel that the Robot was also underutilized, as it seemed as if the writers didn’t really have an endgame in sight for him, although his interactions with Will were amazing.
I also like the fact that this is one of the rare science fiction shows that is family friendly, and children will have a blast watching it with their parents in tow.
In the end, the “Lost in Space” reboot does have a lot going for it, making it an above average science fiction show, however, the show does have some course correcting to do, especially with Dr. Smith, if it is renewed for a second season.
As I mentioned earlier, this show’s visuals pack a punch, and its production design is just as sleek and just as amazing as “The Expanse”. I love the Jupiter 2 design, the design for the Chariot, and let’s not forget the space suits and what they did with the Robot this time around.
I like the fact this Robot is alien in origin, and its design does reflect it. There’s something militaristic about its design, yet its single circular interface laced with glowing dots like a mood ring makes it quite endearing as well. The Robot’s interaction’s with Will were just amazing, and props to Jenkins to making it endearing and believable, without being too campy or cheesy.
This series does focus a lot on the family dynamic of the Robinson family, and it is interesting to see how they solve problems together, and how they support each other in times of need, no matter what. It was also interesting to see Maureen and John facing their own marital issues together and reconciling in the end, which is something that I would love to see more on tv today.
I also like that they maintained a sense of adventure with some of the episodes, and I really do think that this show works better when it highlights this instead of politics and group dynamics, as I feel that the show works better with a sparse cast instead of a big one.
However, I do feel that we’ve only scratched the surface with the Robinsons, and especially with Judy. I feel that the writers underutilized her and turned her into a stereotypical idealistic cliche after she got over her PTSD, in which she gave a great performance.
My biggest problems with the show was the fact that it didn’t seem that they knew what to do with the Robot, that the fact that their space faring technology was stolen from the Robot’s people was put in at the last minute, and that they failed to give us a compelling villain with Dr. Smith.
I felt like they just made her a sociopath just so that she could be a villain, and it wasn’t done organically. She just did things because that’s what she does. And yes, I know that the Robot would have to turn against the Robinson’s eventually and that Dr. Smith needed to find a way to keep her true identity secret, but couldn’t they have executed this in a way that made more sense? Since no one knew who she was anyway for a time, I think she should have been more likeable to win their trust instead of just be suspiciously annoying and being in convenient places at the right time. Then, when it was found out that she was lying about her true identity, then it would hit the main characters harder, and that’s when she could bring out her contingency plan, which would end up knocking them out further into space, or something like that. I just felt as if her character wasn’t written well or executed well, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that Posey is an amazing actress.
I like that they were able to make the Robinsons, Smith and West truly lost in space at the end of the first season, and I do hope that this would allow them to explore more alien worlds, and the Robot’s home planet, while trying to figure out a way how to come back into contact with the Resolute or figuring out a way to go to the colony on Alpha Centuri. I also hope that they will delve more into the characters of our main cast through their interactions with one another, and I hope that they do a lot of course correcting with Dr. Smith as Posey is an amazing actress.
All in all, “Lost in Space” is a fun and above average science fiction tv show that is also one of the rare ones that is family friendly. The first season does have some major misses, but its gorgeous production design, some good episodes and performances are definitely some of the reasons to stay on board and hope that their second season will do the course correcting that it needs.
Have you seen “Lost in Space”? What did you think about it? Did you like or not like it, and did you like or not like about it? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Image Source: Netflix, Official Lost in Space Facebook Page