I know what you’re thinking….another TV show reboot in a time of too many of the same, so why should we care about this one? This is not a reboot, but a re-imagining. Think new Battlestar Galactica vs the old BSG. Lost in Space is back and it looks fantastic with an amazing set of actors bringing gritty science fiction to television. The smartest thing they have done with this new series is open the scope of Family Robinsons’ dilemma. It’s not just one family’s drama on far away planet, but they have opened the way for more far reaching stories. Also the use of quick flashbacks early on lets us delve into the action, and still find out important motivation about the cast of characters.
If you’re worried that the child actors will be problematic, rest easy. Maxwell Jenkins (Will Robinson) gives a fresh and solid performance of a kid dropped into a dangerous situation. He constantly feels fear that he’s going to fail his training and his family. Will Robinson finds his courage through dealing with the hazards of the environment and befriending a dangerous robot.
It should be mentioned that this time around the robot is truely dangerous and yet has the potential to evolve.
The other two Robinson kids Judy and Penny, played by Taylor Russell and Mina Sundwall respectively, turn in strong performances. Judy took off to an amazing start out of the gates, and was a compelling protagonist shown to have a great deal of courage. Penny however, takes a couple episodes to show she’s not the just the annoying little sister. She has to find her place in this super smart (her mother Maureen is a brilliant doctor), super brave family (her father John is a Marine). Once she settles into what she excels at, then Penny is fun to watch.
Speaking of the adult Robinsons, there is a lot of tension between them early on and it takes several flashbacks and candid conversations to work out what is going on. The tension works and them fighting to get into lock step for the sake of the kids and their own survival is a fantastic ride. It’s also counter to the tropes in normal science fiction. In an emergency you’d think the Marine or especially the man would take charge, but as Maureen points out, brains are what’s going to get them off the planet.
Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) is a con man with a heart of gold. He very different than the Don West in the original series and really does not get along with the Robinson’s at first. The biggest challenge he is up against is Doctor Smith. They are both running their own scams and keep getting in each other’s way. Now here is the potential rub. Doctor Smith (Parker Posey) does not really work for me because the series does a great job of portraying hard science fiction drama, but Doctor Smith behaves like she’s in a different cheesier version of the show. She eavesdrops on conversations while hiding behind corners. It’s all very groan worthy and yet no one has seen through her flimsy disguise. I have hope that the last 5 episodes will make her work better for the overall storyline.
All in all, the first five episodes of Lost in Space are an amazing journey to an alien world with the Family Robinsons. You cheer for their triumphs and feel anxiety at their defeats. You want them to figure out how to get off this weird alien world, but then the show would be over so maybe not. It’s totally worthy of a Neflix binge so be sure to check it out April 13th!