This past weekend, The Wife and I watched the first season of Netflix’s re-imagining of creator Irwin Allen’s 1960s sci-fi television series of the same name. Neither one of us came away disappointed. Netflix’s Lost in Space follows the lead of previous re-imaginings of other movies and television shows – it steers more toward serious, sci-fi action/drama and away from the camp of the original. The story is simple enough, as the title says it all. Fleeing earth, which has presumably become near uninhabitable, a select population of humans seek refuge in the distant Alpha Centauri star system – and the one closest to our own solar system. Gathered on a mother ship called the Resolute, the refugees are forced to abandon the vessel on which they streak toward their salvation as some unknown catastrophe prompts a swift evacuation of the Resolute. The families/colonists on board Resolute scatter in their Jupiter spacecraft, not realizing they and the Resolute have been swept through a wormhole that has taken them far off their trajectory to the AC system. The Jupiter spacecraft escape to a nearby planet, some crashing and some landing safely. Above them, the Resolute has survived mostly intact the event that prompted its immediate evacuation of non-essential personnel. Now, the colonists must find a way to get their mostly-crippled ships back to the orbiting Resolute.
That is the basic premise of this new iteration of Lost in Space. And it works. Mostly due to the dynamics of the central characters of the Robinson family. The show runners for this re-imagining decided to do some gender-bending. No longer are the women of Jupiter II meek damsels. No, they often outshine their male counterparts in creative intellect and outright bravado.
Molly Parker plays matriarch, Maureen Robinson. Her character is a brilliant astrophysicist, and it is implied she is the architect of the escape to Alpha Centauri. She is beautiful, strong, and aggressively protective of her children. Parker brings greater three-dimensionality to character of Maureen, who is the obvious leader on this expedition.
The real standout of the series is Mina Sundwall as Penny Robinson. Sundwall gives Penny plenty of snark, which plays as necessary comic relief without being obvious comic relief. Frankly, Penny gets the best lines of the whole series.
Both Parker and Sundwall are joys to watch. As are the special effects. The planet on which the Jupiter spacecraft crash rivals Pandora, of James Cameron’s Avatar, in beauty and mystery. But unlike Pandora, the effects used to create the planet’s landscape features is subtle and provide the quality canvas upon which to tell the story the creators have chosen to tell.
Oh, and The Robot is damn cool and emotes without having much with which to do so (it is essentially silent and faceless).
Should there be a second season, which I believe is already being teased, I will definitely be in the audience.