While I’ve seen a handful of episodes of the original version of Lost in Space, I’m not well versed in the nuances of the show. I know the broad strokes (lost family, robot with a catchphrase, and the stowaway who keeps throwing a monkey wrench into plans), but not much else.
People who have more invested in the original than I do tell me that taking a deep dive on season one is worth the time, but once the series goes to color, it becomes progressively sillier, culminating one of the most infamous episodes of sci-fi television where apparently they land on a planet of sentient vegetables.*
*I have to admit part of me is morbidly curious to see this episode to see if it’s really quite as terrible as pop culture zeitgeist would indicate.
So, while I was curious to see what Netflix would do when it came to rebooting the show in the age of peak TV, I wasn’t so invested that I could get angry, upset, or annoyed at every small change (for example, the change of Dr. Smith from male to female). Part of me hoped that this new series might do for Lost in Space what the revived Battlestar Galactica did for the series.
Two episodes into the new series and the results are still mixed. The first installment borrows heavily from another series with the word Lost in its title as we get flashbacks to fill in who and why the Robinson family is fleeing Earth in the near future. We find out that Maureen has made a deal with someone to ensure her family isn’t separated for the journey to a new colony (Will apparently didn’t pass the test to be selected as a colonist) and I’m pretty certain this decision will come back to haunt the family at some point. We also see that the Robinson marriage isn’t exactly on steady ground with Maureen asking John to give her custody of the kids so she can leave Earth with them.
The flashbacks seem designed (at least in this first episode) to tease us without providing much in the way of answers. I can only assume that as we go forward, we’ll find out how John worked his way back into the family to go on the mission and exactly how many more strings Maureen pulled to get him back. We will probably also find out more on what made the main ship explode around the mysterious planet that the family, West, and Dr. Smith find themselves.
Interestingly, it takes until the end of episode one for the new Dr. Smith to arrive on the scene and then in episode two, we don’t find out much about her beyond that she’s stolen an identity and is looking out for number one at all times. This includes leaving West and a wounded survivor behind and stealing their last flare to capture the Robinsons’ attention during a powerful storm.
I’ll give the series some credit for the planet that the various groups have crash landed on. It’s avoided the cliche of many genre shows with a mono-environment. And while it’s not clear yet why the frozen wasteland would bump right up on the lush forest yet, I’m hoping the series provides a few more answers as we move forward.
The robot does show up, but this time around instead of a tool of the family, it’s an alien life-form that has created some type of bond with Will. By the end of episode two, the robot has only spoken once, giving us the famous “Danger, Will Robinson” line. We also see the Robot was some type of killing machine — I wouldn’t be shocked if we find out the Robot is the cause of the mothership’s destruction at some point in the near future. The Robot also seems to share some type of connection with Will. It seems to be able to communicate with him telepathically or they’re sharing certain things — like the visions of the Robot apparently hunting down and killing people. Could the Robot somehow connect with a host and then fulfill their wishes and/or directives? If so, will the person or being originally controlling the Robot eventually show up to threaten things?
Of course, the Robot still serves a basic purpose of getting the family out of jams. After bonding with Will, it saves him from a forest blaze and then gets Judy out a glacier before she runs out of oxygen in her spacesuit. The Robot is also able to help the crew back to the Jupiter 2 after it’s buried under said ice.
And while Lost in Space doesn’t have the immediate hook that the revived Battlestar Galactica did, it’s still put enough intriguing questions out there that I’m willing to give the show a chance and watch more of season one. The jury is still out on whether making the show serialized will work for or against it. So far, we’ve had what amounts best to a two-hour pilot that has put characters and storylines in play and it’s up to the future episodes to see how it all plays out.
I’ll probably put up periodic round-ups with my thoughts as the series progresses. So, while I welcome comments on the series if you’re deeper into the show than I am, I ask you to please be aware of SPOILERS!