Netflix is bringing back 'Lost in Space' with a 21st Century Space Family Robinson
“Lost in Space” is remembered as that other outer-space-based TV series, long overshadowed by the more famous (and much better made when all is said and done) “Star Trek.” Created by Irwin Allen. “Lost in Space” featured the adventures of the Robinson family, parents John and Maureen, daughters Judy and Penny, and son Will, along with Major West, Dr. Smith, and the Robot. The premise of the series, which premiered in 1965, was that the Space Family Robinson was launched to Alpha Centauri in the then far future of the 1990s only to be sent off course and then forced to survive on a series of hostile alien planets. Over three seasons, “Lost in Space” devolved quickly from a straight space adventure to high camp.
Unlike “Star Trek,” “Lost in Space” did not create any spinoff series and only one best-forgotten movie. Netflix has undertaken to reimagine “Lost in Space” for the 21st century with a ten-episode season that is due to drop April 13.
The premise of the new “Lost in Space” is similar to the old one. This time, though, the Robinson family is part of a larger space colonization effort made necessary by a “geological event” that has made life on Earth untenable. The smaller ship that the Robinsons are on, the Jupiter 2, is separated from the larger mother ship, passes through a rift in space-time, and crash-lands on a hostile planet in an unknown part of the universe.
The second big difference is the dynamics of the Robinson family. The sixties version was definitely in the “Leave It to Beaver” style. John was the family patriarch. Maureen was the happy home maker, even if the home in question was a crashed spaceship. Judy and Penny were cute but well behaved. Will, even though he had a tendency to get into one misadventure after another along with the smarmy Dr. Smith, was basically a good kid.
The modern Robinsons are a little more dysfunctional. John and Maureen are having marital problems. Judy and Penny fight all the time. Will is a confused, scared kid whose father treats him more like a subordinate soldier than a son. Naturally, the shared danger forces them to set aside differences and work together to survive.
The final difference is that Dr. Smith has undergone a sex change procedure and is played by Parker Posey, an actress who has graced many an independent film. The female Dr. Smith is just as nefarious as the one played by the late Jonathon Harris.
The pilot episode was recently screened at Wondercon and, by all accounts, was well received. The new “Lost in Space” is edgier and a little darker than the old version. The members of the Space Family Robinson are a lot more believable and three-dimensional than their sixties counterparts. In short, it looks like Netflix has another binge-worthy series for its ever expanding customer base.