Before I begin my review of Netflix latest series Lost In Space, I want to set the table, so to speak. First, it's not easy for me to watch anything these days. Movies involve a babysitter and a tight window of opportunity. Our TVs are usually streaming Octanauts or PJ Mask (and whatever the next cartoon my douche-nugget 3.5 year olds find appealing). The intersection of time that I'm in front of a TV and there isn't a small child usurping it is extremely scant.
So when I say that binged watch anything these days, I really mean that I watched consecutive episodes in a finite amount of time spread over a couple of days versus the more conventional definition of completing a season in an afternoon or a series within a weekend.
Second, I wasn't going to bring up the 1998 Lost In Space movie and instead pretend it never happened. However, it should be noted that in my research for this post, I learned that the movie was meant to come out in 1997, which is the year the original series was set in. It also had cameos from all the living members of the original cast. But more importantly, the changes in the movie from the series cannon created a starting point for Netflix Lost In Space (heretofore LIS) to look at. There were a few things in the movie that worked and many more things that didn't.
Finally, because the series has been out almost a week, which is practically a lifetime in these TV watching times, WARNING WILL ROBINSON! SPOILER ALERTS WILL ROBINSON!
The to-do list for a reboot is not as difficult as creating a new series from scratch. Most people who would watch this show are already familiar enough with the Robinson family. Sure we still have to introduce Dr Smith, the Robot, and some plausible explanation for why the hell a family is being sent into outer space.
When pitching the idea of a LIS reboot, one must decide if it supposed to be a grown-up remake for a more sophisticated era or just the original campy series with a higher budget. I read that the original series went from serious sci-fi odyssey featuring the entire family to campy show about the antics of a wacky doctor, a chatty robot, and a brainy kid. This reboot tries to shed the campy and be more like ABC's Lost set in space instead of an island.
I really wanted to like this series, I really did. One of my childhood staples was watching LIS reruns on TV. And I don't hate this reboot. I enjoyed it for what it was and would look forward to a Season Two and beyond if that happens. But halfway through the 10 hour series I was still waiting for something meaningful enough to happen so that I would be cheering for the Robinsons to succeed.
What I liked
The gender switch of Dr Smith. Didn't see that coming and thought it was very refreshing, just like when they made Starbuck a girl on BSG reboot. I just hope this doesn't become a lazy goto thing with reboots. "Luke, I am your mother!"
The Robot. As I said above you need to introduce the robot. In previous iterations, the Robot was a standard issue piece of equipment on Jupiter ships. In this reboot they made it an alien quasi-lifeform.
Judy and Don West. In the 60s series, they were engaged but you wouldn't know it. In the 1998 movie, it's a boring subplot that Don is trying to
get into Judy's pants win her affection. In this one the sexual tension is subtle, real and organic. They don't even realize how attracted they are to one another because -- d'uh -- they are too busy trying to survive on a hostile planet.
What I didn't
The pace of each episode moved very slowly. Each episode feels 20 minutes too long. In the original series there was the predicament de jour. In this series if feels like a never ending series of predicament, solution which leads to new predicament. It's exhausting.
There's a difference between not being scientifically accurate and being lazy. In most sci-fi sagas, technology only works as much as the plot needs it to work, usually just enough to get someone into or out of a bind.
I can accept that on some planet, water freezes rapidly enough to trap someone yet it is warm enough for a thin spacesuit to keep you alive above the ice. But its a stretch to think that an alien engine can suddenly propel a ship that is out of fuel.
Here's some more Lost In Space thinky-thoughts for your digestion:
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