In case you aren’t familiar with the 1960’s original, “Lost In Space” chronicles the adventures of the Robinson family, their faithful robot and the villainous Dr Smith as they venture through space.
With the huge budget attached to the project there was a high level of expectation and trepidation regarding the reimaging of a cult classic that has long (and unfairly) resided in the shadows of “Star Trek”. It’s easy to see where the money was spent as we are treated to some incredibly lavish set pieces and effects worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster. However, scratch beneath the brilliantly colourful surface and you get the run-of-the-mill weekly disaster shows that has been done to death.
Whereas the original focused solely on the space-family Robinson and crew, the reboot improves the dynamic somewhat by introducing fellow colonisers into the story so the burden of the show doesn’t rest solely on five or six shoulders. However, you know that they merely represent “Star Trek” redshirts and that when danger approaches and the team find themselves in a hazardous situation it also removes any tension because you already know that the Robinsons will be just fine, no matter how dire the situation. This badly needs addressing in season 2 either by killing off a Robinson early (not a bad thing as I find all three children incredibly annoying) or creating richer stories for the ‘cannon fodder’ so that we have some emotional investment in them.
There’s a bit of a tick-box exercise in the casting and plotting, too: token diversity, rote teen romance and a villainous Brit? Check I’d also bet my fez that in season 2 the intrepid family Robinson will encounter an annoying Jar-Jar Binks-esque animatronic/ CGI ‘pet’ for the Robinsons to protect and keep like a cosmic Tamagotchi.
That’s not to say that there aren’t positives to be drawn here; Parker Posey is an inspired choice as the female Dr Smith and by far the best thing in the show. Whereas the original character was a deviously self-serving coward, this female iteration of Zach Smith isn’t as clear-cut as the original in respect of her motivations and intentions, even channelling her inner Ellen Ripley when needed. This is especially true of the superb season finale which offers an “Aliens” / “Gravity” mash-up homage and Posey portrays the Doctor as genuinely torn between helping the Robinson family and saving her own skin. The Robot of this version of “Lost In Space” is also stupendously good, possibly one of the all-time best robotic Sci-Fi creations with an equal blend of genuine menace, guardian nobility and social naivety. I also liked the dynamic between Maureen and John Robison as the estranged parents of their fold, trying to work through their marital differences whilst trying to escape their planetary prison.
In many ways, this season felt like season v0.5 instead of version 1.0 and the finale sets up what will possibly be a return to the original series’ linear narrative. It has all the elements necessary to create a cosmic explosion, but it’s currently missing the trigger to fuse them all together.
Watch this if you like: “Lost In Space”, “Star Trek”