I used to love spending afternoons after school watching old episodes of shows that came before my time. My favourites included Batman (66), Green Hornet, and of course Lost in Space. By the time the 1998 film with Gary Oldman and Matthew LeBlanc hit theatres I was as much of an expert as someone from my generation should be. I remember being wildly disappointed, though over the years, as I look back on it, I loved that movie as well. So, when I heard Lost in Space was receiving another reboot, I knew I had to watch it. I also had to pump the brakes, as there was a chance that this could once again be a major disappointment.
The original series as I remember it was low budget and highly formulaic. Each episode would involve the family being attacked by an outside threat, or something going terribly wrong. As John and Maureen would spend time solving the problem, Penny would be off in la-la land, and Dr. Smith would make it worse somehow. More often than not it was Will and his awesome robot that would solve everything before the end of the episode. Oh, and of course, there were those gaudy purple outfits, brilliant.
Pretty straightforward source material to work with. The premise truly does lend itself to infinite continuations and retellings. With a family of geniuses exploring space and alien planets, it allows for adventure and strong family morals. Swiss family Robinson in space! How did nobody pick up the rights to this show sooner?
My first impressions of the Netflix series were positive. I loved the intro, with a montage of man’s timeline in space travel it was a solid nod to the show’s origins. And, that first episode was an attention grabber. Honestly, how many things can go wrong? Everything, everything can and will go wrong, at least in the first episode- it did slow down as the show progressed. You could tell from the start that this show was going to be full of intensity.
I appreciate how much this show kept things close to the source material. With something like 50-years between series,’ there was a lot that needed an update and a reimagining. They did a wonderful job of blending the original ideas with a modern take. The most prominent example of this is the robot. The original G.U.N.T.E.R. (which is a total Ready Player One Easter egg that everyone misses) was a ridiculous, cumbersome thing. To give the robot new abilities, and some agility was a necessity, but to have it be such a threat at the same time was a great move.
There were times during the show that I found myself saying “damn, that’s good writing.” It was not all the time. In fact, there were lots of times were lousy writing, or awful acting pulled you right out of the show. There were some terrible actors. But, conceptually some intelligent moments offered audiences something original. Without spoiling anything, there was one scene in particular that I loved. It involved the villain describing how she is capable of doing the awful things she is perpetrating and how she is able to keep it a secret. It was done in such a natural manner but carried some weighty implications for the remainder of the season. There were plenty of little scenes like that slipped in throughout the show that really helped to separate it from other dramas in the same theme.
Overall, I thought the show was done really well. Some of the incidents and themes were completely unrealistic, but I am always open to a little disbelief. I am happy that all the important characters have been incorporated and each kept the traits that make them who they are. Penny was by far my favourite, and they were smart to make her more than the girl with the monkey- though I miss the monkey. I have high hopes for a second season, and it would be awesome if they skip right to the family exploring the universe in their little Jupiter II.