You Should Be Watching Lost in Space

Didja hear?   There’s a new Lost in Space reboot on Netflix, taking the charming low-budget insanity of the original series and the big-budget lack of charm from the movie and melding them into a TV show that actually works pretty well!

This show looks phenomenal.   The visuals and vistas are definitely a sight to behold and it really comes together to build a world that is both wondrous and frightening.   What’s more, being a series, Lost in Space has a chance to stretch its legs and really explore the wonder and weirdness of it all which is something that the series never had the budget for and the movie didn’t have the time or energy to do at all.

I really liked the characters this time around too.   The old Lost in Space and even the movie had the tendency to make the Robinsons the perfect family… all intelligent, all of them love each other, and none of them really got into major disagreements.   In the new series, the Robinson family are a broken family.   The mom and dad are divorced, the daughters are having little petty spats with each other, and the son is a major pansy.  They are presented as flawed human beings here with faults who make mistakes and inadvertently hurt each other yet, through it all, they remain a family… a broken and dysfunctional family, but no one is taking out knives at each other, so it’s more civilized than my house at Thanksgiving. 

For just the briefest of moments, I have to talk about Parker Posey’s Doctor Smith who is a woman now because we do that kind of thing in television these days.   I really think that her performance is going unnoticed in the wake of how many people are being so vocal in how much they hate this character.   They don’t hate Smith for how she is portrayed, they hate her because of what the character does to other people.   Folks, she’s a bad guy… it’s what they do.   Parkey Posey is doing a phenomenal job as Doctor Smith turning in a performance that is layered and nuanced and showing us a woman who is desperate to do anything to survive and, really, that is her only goal throughout this season… she wants to survive.   She doesn’t want to take over the universe or hijack the ship, she doesn’t want gold or riches or a throne… she just wants to live.    It’s so refreshingly simplistic and, yet, I have the feeling that she wouldn’t hesitate to gut any one of the Robinson kids to insure her survival if necessary.   I will go out on a limb here and say that Doctor Smith is the most interesting villain on television today.

You can really look at this entire first season as a pilot episode for Lost in Space as, in a major shakeup to the old plot, the Robinsons are in a lost community now with dozens of other people.   It’s such a departure from the norm and yet, it opens up and explores so many new storytelling devices that are, in my opinion, merely scratched upon in the opening ten episodes.

You’ve got the Robot, of course, who, unfortunately, looks like a guy in a silly rubber suit now, but you do get used to it as the mystery of the Robot unfolds in front of you.  

If I have criticisms, it would be that the Robinsons come off as ridiculously naive many times in the series, but it could also just be my own hindsight and knowledge that Doctor Smith is an evil person even if they didn’t know it.  

Still, if they were looking to redo Lost in Space, I’d say they hit on a winning formula here.   The show doesn’t really take off for three or four episodes, but once it does, it’s very binge-worthy and I highly recommend it.

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