Review: Lost in Space

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Photo courtesy of Netflix

 

Holy COW!!! This ain’t your Mama’s Lost in Space.
 
The new series, released April 13th, is one of the best re-imaginings of a former series ever done. Where the old 1965 classic was played as more or less serious, it has become a cult classic because as it aged, the pure innocence of how hokey it was slapped us in the face.
 
This new Lost in Space is now the new standard for significant science fiction drama.
 
The best part is that it is a profoundly well-cast series. The actors are believable and well written, although as in most series, it takes some episodes to understand how they all fit together in the whole.
 
The stand out performance (among many) is Doctor Smith. I would never have expected the part to be played by a female lead, but Parker Posey brought the character to a level worthy of accolades. Let me be the first to predict awards for her performance. She is sinister and sly and cringe-worthy, yet entirely believable. The new Doctor Smith is someone you want to put in an airlock and open the outer hatch.
 
In fact, that is one of the only maddeningly frustrating parts of the series… how everyone takes so long to catch on to the fact that the good doctor isn’t the “good” doctor. During my watching, I just wanted to reach out and slap people upside the head when they failed to recognize Smith’s machinations. Especially when there is no attempt to hide that the doctor is an evil, self-serving bitch.
 
In all remakes, there are going to be differences. Sometimes rewrites work, and sometimes they don’t.
 
The original storyline of the robot’s existence takes a serious detour, but it works. The Judy character, played by Taylor Russel, has a twist and may be less believable, but in the end becomes something you can accept. And Ignacio Serricchio as Don, Judy’s romantic interest in the old series, at first comes across as something of a slimeball, but after some believable dialogue, he justifies himself. But I fear he is doomed to always be the hero that will always be digging his way out of something unsavory.
 
I suspect the second season will fill out the Judy/Don relationship and characters better.
 
Of the rest of the cast, Molly Stevens plays a great and smart mom, and Toby Stephens plays a believably crusty and flawed dad. Maxwell Jenkins is a brilliant Will Robinson. Penny Robinson is played by Mina Sundwall, and as the second oldest child in the family has some great lines, but seems too old in comparison to Judy as the oldest child. That impression might be a hold-over from watching the original series.
 
As in the original series, the robot and the eleven-year-old Will Robinson have a special relationship. Similarly to the original series as well, the Doctor Smith character tries to overcome this bond and ingratiate herself into a position of power using the robot.
 
One of the best things about the series is that the acting, dialogue, and relationships are not overshadowed by the special effects. Perhaps this is because there was nothing noteworthy, but I prefer to think it was intentional that the director made the storyline more important than the bells and whistles. An unusual choice, but a relief as it proved over the course of several episodes to be more entertaining. The discretion in not overwhelming the show with overdone effects is impressive.
 
Not to give out any spoilers, but the series starts out with more characters than I have mentioned. You’ll have to watch the show to see what I mean.
 
At the end of this year’s season, the last episode, there is a twist that came out of nowhere. Now I’m hooked, so I’ll be excited to see what comes next.
 
I’m not sure I can wait… 
 

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