A reboot of “Lost in Space” has landed on the Netflix streaming service. A Netflix original show based on the 1965 show that shares its name, what transpires is worth the time investment to see. Following the tribulations of spacefaring survivors the Robinson family, those familiar with the original series will notice many nods to the source material. The family name itself is a nod to a key source of inspiration for the first “Lost in Space” television series, the Johann David Wyss novel “The Swiss Family Robinson.” Beginning in media res, with an unexpected crash landing on an unknown planet, the plot immediately puts the characters in life-threatening danger.
The way each individual deals with what has suddenly been thrust upon them serves to highlight their personalities. There are plenty of twists to these homages also, like the Robot (voiced by Brian Steele) which upon mere design is decidedly a different take on the character. Though still protective of Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins), the Robot is regarded by some as a potentially threatening force given the circumstances that surround the family’s introduction to it. This adds an interesting dynamic to the group, fostering distrust among the family as well as other survivors they eventually meet up with and adding drama to what would already be intense moments.
Errors in judgment seem to be a common theme running throughout the show; the mistakes and poor decisions people make have dire consequences that carry forward. This gives weight to plot points and makes for compelling television that will keep the viewer’s attention. The machinations of ex-con June Harris (Parker Posey), who advances her goals through deception draws focus whenever on screen She steals the identity of Dr. Zachary Smith, a member of the cast of characters from the original 1965 show, and is clearly going to play an important role in the future of the series. Like almost anything though, there are lows that come with the highs of the show.
One glaring problem is the questionable motivations of some of the characters, which can often come across as lazy writing though they can also be interpreted as poor judgment. Smith, in particular, tends to do things that seem to have no other purpose than to solidify herself as an antagonistic force, though ostensibly she is seeking only to further her chances of survival. Maureen (Molly Parker) and John Robinson (Toby Stephens) are remarkable in their roles as heads of the Robinson family. Their bickering is believable, grounding the story with genuine feeling dysfunctional family dynamics. This relationship makes the cast more relatable, elevating the show in the process.
All of the actors are accomplished at portraying the attributes of their characters, and none feel out of place or detract from the experience excessively. The pacing of the show made it a season that is easy to binge, balancing plot development with awe-inspiring moments in equal measure. One could just as easily drink in the show slowly, savoring the sights on offer here. Visually, this might be the most daring Netflix original to date, pairing the computer-generated and practical effects seamlessly. One can sense that no expense was spared; the quality of the visuals are on par with big studio blockbuster releases. Suited for the grandeur of the story being told, the settings of the scenes do a great deal to draw the audience into this alien environment the characters are navigating.
The strange beauty of the far-flung world and the futuristic interiors of spaceships look amazing. Some liberties with the laws of physics are taken for the sake of dramatic effect, but those I can forgive, especially since they are on a strange world that one could believe might have different enough properties for events to unfold as they do. The use of flashbacks is common, allowing the show to maintain a steady stride while also providing information necessary to the plot at the right moments. A number of these flashbacks serve to cast characters in a new light and don’t overstay their welcome. The prospect of a follow-up season is still up in the air at the moment, but the ending is quite a cliffhanger that should tantalize those who make it through the entire show.
Those who remember the old black and white classic, or are in the mood for a science fiction adventure should not miss “Lost in Space.”