When I was a kid, I absolutely adored Lost in Space. Yes, it was cheesy and the special effects included a giant fishbowl glued to a trash can’s head, but there was a certain amount of charm about a family sailing through space and finding adventure and mishap on their way! Plucky adventures, ridiculous situations, and fantastical ideas was the reason I watched Lost in Space (that and my parents wouldn’t spring for cable – cheap bastards).
So you can imagine how worried I was when I heard that Netflix was going to relaunch the series! They used words such as ‘modernized’ and ‘re-imagined’ which usually means they’re taking a chainsaw to the original content and going to town on it. Yes, the trailer looked amazing – they certainly upgraded beyond the fishbowl on a trash can- but I wasn’t sold.
Well, it dropped last month on Netflix, and per usual with all Netflix content, I binged it over a weekend.
And I loved it.
(Mild spoilers for Lost in Space follow!)
Yes, I loved it, loved it, loved it. Does that mean that it was perfect? Of course not. But let’s not staple the rose-tinted glasses to our faces and pretend the original was perfect. No, this new ‘re-imagining’ does have some issues (and I’ll get to those shortly). However, let’s start with the stuff I loved.
Each character is unique. In the old version of Lost in Space, you had four characters. You had the ‘Adults’ (Mommy and Daddy Robinson), you had the kids (Penny and Will Robinson), you had the teenagers (Judy Robinson and her pilot beau). And then you had Dr. Smith who… well… was one white van away from being put on some sort of space registry. The parents solved situations with Science because they were scientists. The kids got into trouble because they were kids. The teenagers were there for the wholesome-teenager stories… and that was it.
In the new Lost in Space, everyone has a role. John Robinson (Daddy Robinson) is no longer a scientist – his wife Maureen is. He is a soldier instead. So it’s fun to see the parents argue how to approach a situation – as a scientist or as a soldier. Don, our pilot beau, has been turned from military man to Han Solo, and Judy’s brush with death in the very beginning creates unique challenges for her to overcome. Will Robinson is no longer the brave boy genius – he’s smart but he isn’t exactly brave. And Penny (my favorite) has sort of become the joker of the family.
All these characters have their own unique skills and perspectives which just makes the show feel more realistic than the previous version. And that’s not even talking about the alterations they’ve done to Robot!
Speaking of Robot, let’s talk special effects.
The entire show looks amazing. Beautiful sets, Beautiful effects. I thought I would get tired of Robot after an episode or two of his new look but their combination of computer-generated content and actual costuming made Robot feel real. The alien life forms are fantastically done, the space scenes were damn near flawless, and it is clear that some real top-notch professionals scrubbed and polished the footage until it popped.
The entire narrative is fine – they change it up from the original Lost in Space. They actually find several other Jupiter ships so we get to see them interact with humanity. And since everyone is no longer a cardboard cutout of an age demographic, there is enough twists and surprises to keep you guessing on what is going to happen. Now some of the situations that the Robinsons get themselves into were a little… far-fetched (someone got frozen in ice in a way I’m not sure ice freezes…) but I am giving them a pass because A) alien planet and B) I do acknowledge this is a family-friendly series. Sometimes you gotta simplify a situation.
Now, as you might have noticed, I didn’t talk much about Dr. Smith earlier when I was talking character changes. And trust me – there is a lot to discuss because there is a lot of changes to Dr. Smith. Let me get this out of the way – the actor playing Dr. Smith is fantastic. She absolutely breathes life into the cowardly caricature of the past series. I love the new changes they made to the character – I loved them in the beginning and I loved them in the end.
But in the middle… they’re a poor choice for being the villain.
So, long story short, Dr. Smith isn’t a real doctor. She’s a grifter. A criminal. Someone who snuck into the main colony ship and then stole someone’s identity to get to the planet. So when everyone is talking about getting rescued by the colony ship, you can imagine Dr. Smith would want to stop that. But the way the character goes about sabotaging everything is the problem. Yes, I can see someone doing what Dr. Smith did. However, I find it VERY unlikely for all the pieces to fall into place the way they did to get Dr. Smith from Point A to Point B. Again, I liked Point A (the beginning). I liked Point B (the ending). But the journey to those two points felt very constructed. Her plan worked because the screenwriters needed her plan to work.
Overall, I feel Lost in Space was a rousing success. And it’s a show I cannot wait to sit down to watch with my son when he’s old enough to be forced to like the things I like. But what did you think? Did you enjoy the show? How did you feel about Dr. Smith and the rest of the characters? Leave your response in the comments below!
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