Title: Lost in Space
Created by: Irwin Allen
Available on: Netflix
Air Date: April 13, 2018
Genre: Science Fiction, Drama, Adventure
I watched Lost in Space blind for this review, unaware of the opinions circulating around the internet. Nor have I seen the original 1965 series, and I made sure not to watch it before hand. I wanted to be free of others’ opinions and form my own based solely on this show. No comparisons. Nothing. You see it every day: people judging TV and film based on the generalized opinion from everyone else, especially when comparing a remake to its source material. Usually, I’ll admit, the general consensus is pretty spot on. For Netflix’s rendition of Lost in Space, I’d have to say the opinion going around the web is, for the most part, off-course. One could say, lost in space.
The series begins with a stunning episode, “Impact”, where the Robinson’s are forced to make a crash-landing on an unknown planet after their mothership, the Resolute is attacked and badly damaged. Tension unravels throughout the pilot, from Judy’s unfortunate circumstances to Will’s discovery of The Robot.
The rest of the season plays out in similar way. Each solution presents the stranded Robinson’s and other survivors with more problems. Every episode has the crew dealing with a small issue to help make progress towards solving the big issue: escaping the planet. For example, in “Infestation”, the Robinson’s are forced to deal with a multitude of fuel-eating, alien-like eels while discovering they aren’t the only surviving Jupiter from the crash. The writing of Lost in Space is well-structured, presenting its audience with a minor conflict while pushing towards the major conflict. And behind most of these problems is the deceptive Dr. Smith.
Character development in any show is important, but I think Lost in Space managed its many characters in an effective manner. Dr. Smith is at the forefront. Her backstory is revealed as the season progresses. Like how she managed to get aboard the Resolute in the first place, and how her treacherous nature doesn’t quite get her what she wants, despite the continued effort she puts into overpowering all the survivors. She has this obsession with being both the hero and the survivor, but, in the process, manages to screw up a lot of plans and people. Her actions affect others, and those affected begin to take it out on the ones around them. I’m fond of the causality this style of writing shows. It’s realistic, gritty, nerve-racking and gives the audience an antagonist they can dislike with good reason.
In contrast, John Robinson provides viewers with Dr. Smith’s opposite. He’s the embodiment of both the hero and the survivor, the guy everyone starts to look to when the big decisions come. But he can’t take all the credit and gives most of it to Maureen, his wife. As you witness the relationships between each character blossom, especially the ones with John and Dr. Smith, the layers of Lost in Space begin to unfold like a neatly wrapped Christmas present. Inside is something you may be expecting, yet you can never really know until you open it up. Trust can be an illusion.
Lost in Space stands out to me not just because of the characters and their interactions with one another, but because of its consistency to form. It presents situations based on family, trust, and honor then doubles down on them by forcing viewers into front row seats as the, sometimes uncomfortable, scenes unfold. By implementing this strategy, whereas a normal show might just stick to appealing to a single audience, Lost in Space relates to a variety of age groups. From the uncertain status of John and Maureen’s marriage, to Penny navigating teenage romance, to Will’s struggles with his father’s–John’s–consistent absence from his life. Everybody can relate.
The only problem with a “globally accessible” show tends to be that not all the material intended for adults should be watched by kids. And–don’t get me wrong–Lost in Space has a kids show kind of vibe to it through and through, with its humor and wit. But it also tries to tackle a number of difficult themes children may not be ready to delve into quite yet. For example, Dr. Smith’s sinister personality or Will’s shaky relationship with The Robot. There may be a lesson here for younger audiences… I just think they’d need a parent there to explain it to them (hence the TV-PG rating).
Lost in Space may have sharpened its characters down to a fine point, but some aspects in regards to the narrative’s continuity seem to falter. Minor plot holes scatter themselves throughout the first season. Like, how does Dr. Smith know from the picture she found in Will’s room that The Robot was the one to infiltrate the Resolute, that he’s scared of him? From her line of questioning, it appears she knows. She may be smart, but she doesn’t read minds. And how does throwing a rock in the episode, “Resurrection”, force all of the creepy alien-bats away from the group stuck in the caves? Why does no one try to stop Don from staying inside the Jupiter in the episode, “Eulogy,”? Although his journey into the ship to find the real Dr. Smith’s belongings was an important one for the story’s progression, I think there should’ve been at least some resistance by the others. After all, they were already struggling to keep the ship from falling off the cliff.
Minor plot holes like the ones above litter the first season of Lost in Space, but none of them truly take away from the experience. Emotion drives the show forward because of solid acting; the music and visual effects are professionally produced; and the characters feel relatable enough to make you want to care about what happens to them. Sure, some parts may feel forced just to push the plot forward. But isn’t that what any story aims to do? Take season 7 of Game of Thrones, for instance. The characters traveled far distances as if they all had their own dragons. Yet, that season was still received well by critics and fans alike.
All it takes is one bad review, then the rest of the world will gravitate towards that opinion. For Lost in Space, it’s unfortunate, because in no way does it deserve the ratings it’s at now. My advice to you: go into the show with an open mind and don’t try to over analyze every single scene. Things will make more sense that way, regardless if you’re lost in space or not.
Verdict: Netflix’s retelling of the classic series, Lost in Space, may have some issues in regards to the continuity of its narrative, mainly due to minor plot holes, but I feel like it overcomes these inconveniences with excellent characters. Their development as the season progresses aligns with the overall message of the series: family is more than just sticking with one another, it’s about trust. Building a new world can be tough, though, when there’s a Dr. Smith around. Danger, Will Robinson.
- Character development
- Well-structured episodes
- Family fun, for the most part
- Excellent visuals and music
- Minor plot holes
- Some elements may not be suited for younger viewers
Most of the time he spends writing, reading (anything from comics to classic literature), playing video games, and wondering when the next Elder Scrolls title will be released. Hopefully soon…