For those that know me know that I’m a Sci-Fi geek. I love everything Star Wars (yes, even The Last Jedi, Uno), Star Trek in all its iterations (TV and movies), and I’m part of the crowd that is hoping Fox brings back Firefly. If you don’t know what Firefly is, just know it stars Nathan Fillion and he is awesome in everything! I also love shows that have a special family dynamic. When a show combines that and sci-fi, I’m sold. A perfect example is one of my favorite shows of all time: Fringe. I’ve talked about it on the podcast and I can go on and on about how great those characters are and their special bond as a makeshift family but that’s a blog for another day. Today it’s about the Netflix reboot and modernization of Lost in Space.
The original was a 60’s campy sci-fi show that is probably mostly known for the iconic robot and his most famous line“Danger, Will Robinson, Danger”. Although, it shares the same name, it is not your daddy’s (or grandpa’s) Lost in Space. Where the original one was very campy and tongue in cheek, the updated Netflix iteration is an intriguing family scifi drama that might need a little room to grow but is a very promising first go.
The show starts out with the Robinson family playing a harmless game of Go Fish which may seem normal but underneath the surface this family is facing some real challenges. Oh and they are also hurling through space aboard the Jupiter II, with their colony space station under attack by an unknown threat and Earth is no longer habitable. Space explorer problems.
While the original was just the Robinson family, in this version the Robinsons are part of a colony looking for a planet to inhabit and find other families who have crashed landed on the same planet the Robinsons do. The dynamic of the Robinsons is the heart of the show and makes them feel real. The parents Maureen and John Robinson (Deadwood’s Molly Parker and Black Sails’ Toby Stephens) have split up but are co-parenting their kids. The episodes when they are alone and realize that their love for their kids is as strong as their love for each other are some of the most emotional episodes.
Judy Robinson (Taylor Russell) is the oldest of the kids and her anger and conflict with her father is that he left the family to continue his service in the military. She is also not his biological daughter but that is never the issue and she acknowledges that John Robinson is her father. Then there is Penny (Mina Sundwall) the middle child. Her sarcasm and wittiness is unparalleled and has the majority of the funniest scenes in the show.
Then we come to what I think is the real heart of the show: Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins) and later his robot. Will is the youngest and he feels he brings the least to the group when in fact he as essential to the family as everyone else. Where he feels inadequate and not courageous, his family sees a caring and brave soul. And let’s not forget his robot. This robot is badass! Although it’s mostly mute and occasionally will spout the iconic line, his emotions are expressed through his oval screened shaped head. This makes the performance of Maxwell Jenkins even more impressive since he has to carry the acting load and he does not disappoint. I don’t want to give anything away but there is a neat twist with the robot that is worth sticking with the show until the end.
The weakest part of the show is this version of Dr. Smith played by Parker Posey. It has nothing to do with the part being played by a woman. In fact, Parker Posey is phenomenal in this role. By the end of episode one I hated Dr. Smith and that was just a testament of how well she played the part. I have an issue more with the writing. Her motivations for doing some really bad stuff doesn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things and parts of her master plan sort of just happen miraculously and seem contrived.
The show looks very expensive and looks incredible. From the cinematography to the special effects, it looks like no expense was spared and its all the better for it. I highly recommend it and here’s hoping that a season 2 is in our future.
All episodes of Lost in Space are currently available on Netflix.