The Netflix reboot of Lost In Space dropped on Friday, April 13, 2018 and I finally made it through the whole thing. Just like in the original series (and the 1998 movie), we find ourselves following the adventures of the Robinson Family as they are, as the title suggests, lost in space. In the original television show, the Robinsons are the first family to set out to Alpha Centauri to start a new colony to alleviate the overpopulation of Earth while the 1998 film saw the Robinsons leave Earth because the planet had become too polluted. In this new series, the Earth was hit by an extinction sized object dubbed ‘The Christmas Star’ and is becoming increasingly uninhabitable.
Before getting into my thoughts on the series, let me preface them by saying that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the original series. I used to watch it all the time when I was a kid and it was in one of those retro-tv blocks along with Gilligan’s Island and Land of the Giants, but really all I remember is Dr. Smith being a cartoonish villain that I’d never leave my kid alone with, young Will Robinson getting talked into doing things that would leave him in need of a rescue, monsters in bad costumes, and one of the most iconic theme songs in television history. Of course, when I was a kid I didn’t care about any of those things. It was dumb and goofy and I thought it was funny, but I didn’t actually really care about any of the characters or if they ever found their way home. Even before seeing a trailer for the reboot, I knew it was going to be a totally different show. We’re firmly in the era of making goofy shows into grittier, grounded, and slightly more realistic fare. I’m fine with that, but sometimes I feel like we’re missing out on some of the fun we could be getting out of these shows instead.
Lost in Space is a very solid series. From the first episode, I found myself invested in the characters and intrigued by the new story. One of the bigger changes from the original series is that when the Robinsons crash land somewhere unknown, they’re not alone. This time around they are part of an entire colony travelling to Alpha Centauri, all living aboard a ship called The Resolute that housed numerous families. Their Jupiter class ships, which are basically Space RV’s, are meant to depart The Resolute when they would finally reach Alpha Centauri, land on the planet, and become the family’s new residence. However, this was not to be. An alert started going off, chaos ensued and several of the colonists were forced to evacuate the ship at which point they either would land or crash down on the planet below.
Another change from the original series is that the robot isn’t part of the Robinson’s crew from the beginning. Instead, Will finds it when he is separated from his father and left alone to fend for himself, at least temporarily. It’s damaged and Will helps it to repair itself, this act causes it to form a bond with Will and follow his instructions (which becomes a major part of the story later). Without getting into big spoilers, this series uses the same idea from the original that the robot is at least partly responsible for the situation they are in (even if it wasn’t by choice), but goes about it in a completely different way. I do like the overall design of the new robot, but it looks incredibly different than the original, this new version looks more like a cross between The Geth from Mass Effect and The Dredge from Titan AE.
Doctor Smith this time around is played by Parker Posey, who you might remember from Blade Trinity, but hopefully from one of her better films like Dazed and Confused or more recently the voice of Dreamcatcher in the Skylanders Academy series. This version of Doctor Smith is more menacing, more conniving, and much more of a threat than that of Jonathan Harris in the original series or his slightly less goofy counterpart, Gary Oldman in the 1998 film. This Smith is a career criminal who at first seems to be out for only herself and doesn’t care who gets hurt along the way. Overall, she’s a great character but at the same time some choices she makes don’t immediately make sense and I found myself questioning her motivation at times.
It’s not just Doctor Smith that has gone through some changes though, all of the characters we know from the original have been modified to fit in with this new dynamic. While it absolutely works in the context of this show, fans of the original who may have been hoping to see new actors give new life to the characters they once knew, are going to be very disappointed. John is a Navy Seal who grew distant from his family when he re-upped his service, Maureen is an astrophysicist, Judy is a doctor, Penny wants to be an author, and Will is very unsure of himself and lacks confidence.
While watching the series I found myself thinking that even though I was enjoying it, with a few tweaks and changes, this could have been a brand new series that didn’t use the name Lost In Space, but instead, was inspired by it. However, by the final moments of the series finale, all of the pieces they had been building throughout the season had come together to produce a show I feel is worthy of using the Lost In Space name, hence the title I used for this review, now that building up all the characters is out of the way, Season 2 can really get into what we loved about the original series. Though I enjoyed it on its own and there were fun moments here and there, I feel this version of the series lacked much of the sense of adventure and fun that the original series had or even that the movie had attempted. The writing team did a great job of exploring the characters and getting me invested, but I was hoping for a little more Rick and Morty and a little less Lost.
I would still recommend this show to any sci-fi fans out there looking for a new show to jump into. I think fans of the original series will like the clever references and homages to the original series and if they are able to see this as a brand new interpretation and separate it from the original, I’m pretty they’ll enjoy it too.