Lost in Space: A Netflix Reboot of a Family Classic

Netflix continues to challenge the status quo with its most recent launch of a new(ish) series, “Lost in Space”. The show adapts the same characters and ideas as its namesake, the original 1965 show, and a later 1998 movie (tell me that it’s not weird seeing Matt LeBlanc as anyone except Joey from “Friends”). Though one can easily poke a few holes in the plot here and there, it is an overall enjoyable watch.

The new “Lost in Space” may seem a bit stale initially in that we have seen the premise many times in space themed movies. A calamity causes the earth to become less hospitable, and mankind must venture out into the stars to preserve our progeny. Where this story differs a bit from the original is that we come to find out the Robinsons are not completely alone and must work together with other colonists. Seasoned viewers may jump up and scream, “Finish him!” upon seeing veteran actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (the original Mortal Kombat’s Shang Tsung) as a scientist on the expedition.

What I enjoyed about this first season of the show is that the idea of being lost in space, while it moves the narrative forward, is really almost an afterthought. The show’s real focus is on the bonds of family and the dynamic between members. So many different relationships and their intricacies are fleshed out; from the absentee father, to the protective mother, and the children trying to live up to their parents’ high expectations while also trying not to die, the show really demonstrates that families can be messy but remarkable.

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There are some mysteries as the show progresses, and that is part of what kept me engaged. While we do learn more about “the robot” (it would be nice to name “him” but maybe then he becomes too much like us) who resurrects his tried and true catchphrase, his origins and the related implications are part of the cliffhanger awaiting us in season two.

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Also of note is Parker Posey’s portrayal of Dr. Smith. She really disappears into the role and becomes a full on sociopath, using any lie and both subtle and overt manipulation to survive and connive her way to comfort and self preservation. At some points she even seems like an incarnation of the devil, perched on the shoulder and whispering sweet nothings to innocent minds, steering them down the wrong path, or rather, her desired path.

Sci-fi nerds like myself may draw parallels with other space based series and want to nitpick here and there (like why can’t they remotely pilot things?), but ultimately I found it interesting to watch the family dynamic evolve and for the characters to overcome adversity time and time again. The series may also feel more relatable because rather than being set centuries in the future, flashbacks to earth and the kind of technology used show a near future scenario that we may well live through in the years to come. Don’t go into the show expecting the gut wrenching horrors of “Event Horizon” or even as much blood as “Battlestar Galactica”, but do enjoy the dilemmas of a family and a civilization facing extinction and how that ultimately binds people together. If more of us saw the world with the kind and wondrous eyes of a young Will Robinson, it would be a merrier place indeed.

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