May 16, 2018

[TV] Lost in Space (2018): Season 1 (Review)

When cable TV was a relatively new thing in the Philippines, many an afternoon was spent watching colorized episodes of the original 1965 series Lost in Space. The series oddly endeared itself to me, probably because of its Swiss Family Robinson structure and the fact that the show has a massive robot as one of its characters. I even enjoyed the quirky 1998 movie adaptation that strangely featured  Matt LeBlanc as Major Don West.

So the news of a Netflix attempt to reboot the series was as always unusual news. It's not like there was a major clamor for this series to come back to life, plus I figured how badly the movie had bombed the franchise was pretty much dead.

But instead we get a new series that is somewhat edgier than the original, as is often the case with these reboots. But in time it has a unique, intriguing story of its own which skipped perfectly trying to capture the 1960's family-friendly vibe of the original series and made something new that still nicely homaged the old.

Synopsis: Lost in Space is the 2018 reboot television series of the 1965 series of the same name as originall created by Irwin Allen. It was developed for Netflix by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless.

It is 2048 and the Robinson family is one of many selected as colonists traveling via a much larger vessel known as the Resolute. But something happens to the ship and the family tries to escape possible destruction in their colony vessel the Jupiter 2. They barely survive their rough landing on a nearby planet and do their best to survive while trying to find a way off the planet and back to the Resolute, assuming the vessel is still functional.

There's a lot of back story to the family that is slowly revealed through flashbacks in-between their early adventures on the planet. At the same time we are introduced to a mysterious woman (Parker Posey) who assumes the identity of Dr. Zackary Smith in order to join the evacuation together with Don West (Ignacio Serricchio). Down on the planet, young Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins) accidentally gets separated from his family and encounters a rather intimidating alien robot (Brian Steele).

What I Liked: The series did a major upgrade on the story of the series to go away from it being a happy journey to the stars instead one rather fraught with danger. This time they're not quite the perfect family with their share of secrets but not full-on soap opera level secrets so it remains fairly grounded. And I love how a lot of it was tied to Maureen Robinson as excellently portrayed by Molly Parker of House of Cards fame. You can't quite perfectly trust her but she's ultimately still a mother doing the best for her children.

But what really blew me away was the brilliant revamp of the character of Dr. Smith as portrayed by Parkey Posey. The original Smith was more of comic relief than a true antagonist. This time around she's still not quite a villain but more a woman with some serious damage and those destructive habits tend to naturally spiral out of control taking down everyone else around her as well. I know she's a love her or hate her character but I totally love her and the complexity she has added to the show.

What Could Have Been Better: Character development wasn't quite even of course given an ensemble of this nature. This was most felt with the introduction of other chracters outside of the Robinson family as they show more folks survived the incident on the Resolute. And it's not like the main cast was already fully fleshed out at this point - I'm looking at you sad little John Robinson (Toby Stephens).

I'm also not at all happy with their direction for Don West. And I thought Having Matt LeBlanc play him in the movie was weird enough but this not-quite scoundrel spin on things was super unusual. IT was yet another super non-ideal on the character trying to keep pace with Parkey Posey and she was already proving to be a heck of a lot better in the crazy antagonist role sort of things. So having them both all messed up along with the secrets Maureen is hiding and in the long run it felt like they were unnecessarily trying to complicate things. Edit down folks.

TL;DR: Lost in Space is still a heck of a lot of fun and it has a strong story of its own along with some great homages to the original series subtly worked into the mix of things. It has some room to grow but I'm loving where things are headed especially given how the show ends. Thus the first season gets a solid 4 secrets threatening to blow things up out of a possible 5.

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