Netflix’s 2018 Lost in Space series reboot has an episodic feel as the characters find themselves in a unique conflict each episode, similar to the 1965 original, while characters struggle with their isolation and each other throughout the season. This is a science-fiction survival story, reminiscent of The Martian, with unfolding backstories told through flashbacks, comparable to Lost. The series’ strength is in the character relationships, especially within the Robinson family, the shows main characters, who bring a whole arsenal of baggage with them from Earth that gets hashed out as the family fights to survive and return to their colony ship.
Originally inspired by the book The Swiss Family Robinson, survival drives the characters. The Robinson family crash-lands their Jupiter spacecraft on a habitable, Earth-like planet after an emergency evacuation of the Resolute colony ship, where a select group of people were chosen to leave Earth and build a new life near Alpha Centauri. Things don’t go as planned when an alien robot invades the Resolute and begins shooting-up Earth’s pilgrims as everyone gets sucked into a wormhole. The Robinson’s, however, miss the robot’s reign of terror as they are already on their Jupiter.
First, let’s talk about this habitable planet, which throws never-ending curveballs at its human visitors. Fans of survival stories will enjoy Lost in Space. The challenges of limited supplies and dealing with an uninhabited planet are a big part of the story and, for the most part, it works in an entertaining way. The Robinson’s need to stop walking under ladders and breaking mirrors because their lives are a never ending stream bad luck- starting when Judy Robinson (Taylor Russell) gets frozen in a lake (while wearing her spacesuit) and the family scrounges for ways to get her out. It only gets worse for the Robinsons from there.
The theme of the show is “the Robinson’s stick together”- you will hear these words said at least ten times throughout the season. There is a lot of heart as the Robinson’s mend old wounds and learn to rely on each other. The emotional drama of the story starts off strong, but ultimately spirals out too far as the show gets so up in the feels that it begins to tread on melodrama territory. That can primarily be blamed on the dialogue. There are countless moments where a character’s feelings can be portrayed in a look, but is accompanied by a lengthy explanation.
For instance, at the end of the season Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins) must be courageous to save his family after an entire season of trying to conquer his fears. When his mother (Molly Parker) asks if he is sure, he says, “I have to.” Great, beautiful. That’s all we need as an audience, but then he goes into a monologue about why. We already know all this, Will, you’ve showed us your struggle for the last nine hours- quit with the monologue and put your money where your mouth is.
Will Robinson’s relationship with the alien robot is a highlight of the show, famously warning, “Danger, Will Robinson!”. Their friendship develops and they form a literal connection, but it inevitably has its challenges as the characters learn the truth about the robot’s responsibility for their predicament- being stranded on a random planet and the loss of many lives.
The visual effects are stunning, especially in the robot and planetary life, which allows the premise of the show to reach its full potential in areas that were obviously limited in the 1960s. While the show has its flaws and needs to iron-out a few things, it is an entertaining ride for science-fiction fans.
*Featured photo credit: Netflix