“Lost in Space” was released in 2018 as a remake of the science fiction series from 1965 about a family that end being….well, lost in space. The series was first created by Irwin Allen. This version was developed by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless.
The Robinson family are part of a group sent to Alpha Centauri to colonize a new world, however an attack on the spacecraft forces them and many of the colonists onto another planet where they face many dangers, or it would be a pretty boring series. This version of the family is a little more dysfunctional than their 1960’s counterparts, however the main cast of characters all end up being likeable and important to the story. Yes, even the robot gets an upgrade and is there to lend a hand sometimes. Of course, the dastardly Dr. Smith is around to cause confusion and mayhem.
The parents are played by Toby Stephens and Molly Parker, whose marriage is a bit on the ropes. Parker’s version of Maureen Robinson is quite the engineering marvel and is head of the family mission. Stephens’ version of Jonathan Robinson is a tough dude but is trying to be a better father. It seems that his frequent military deployments has brought some tension and distance among his family, but he has the chance to salvage his relationship with his three children.
About the children, they are also quite nicely cast. Taylor Russell plays the 18 year old mission doctor, Judy Robinson. It was not clear as to what kind of medical program allowed her to have a degree at such a young age, but I was able to end up going with it. Also, Judy is the offspring of Maureen and a prior relationship which of course makes the biracial step-daughter of Jonathan. However, Jonathan certainly loves her as if she was his own biological child, and that unquestionably is something to cheer on. Judy has a traumatic episode near the beginning of the series, but she shows plenty of grit regardless when the family needs her. Russell does it make it fairly easy to not sweat the business of her being an 18 year old kid with a medical degree.
Mina Sundwell plays the 15 year old mechanical whiz, Penny Robinson, who has quite the sardonic, cynical streak but is still likeable. She also has good chemistry with Russell so that they have a pretty believable sisterly relationship that fluctuates between exasperation and genuine affection.
Then, we get to young Will Robinson, who is frequently in danger, as the Robot likes to warns us. Maxwell Jenkins has that role and carries it well. Even though Will was at times the cause of some of the troubles that plague the Robinsons, one can’t help but have sympathy for his insecurities and anxiety. Will has also had his moments where he was of help. There is a pretty cool development in the relationship between Will and his father that was well played and kind of touching.
Ignacio Serrichio plays the roguish and charming Don West. Don West is a gifted mechanic with a side business as a smuggler. He is a little cliché in his unreliability at times, but he comes through in a pinch. He also kind of bonds with young Judy but in a pretty platonic manner so it manages to not come off as creepy. Judy sort of ends up being the one to stir West’s conscience at times, and their chemistry also works.
Finally, we get to the mysterious and psychopathic Dr. Smith, who is played by Parker Posey. In this version, Smith is revealed to have stolen her sister’s identity and stowed away aboard the spaceship. This version of Smith is a bit more subtle in her wickedness at times. She also has a clever and uncanny knack for convincing others to act against their better instincts. Posey is quite good and seems to relish her role as the bad guy.
The producers of this particular iteration of the series managed to find a pretty compelling blend between introducing something new to the concept and paying proper homage to the preceding series. The cast was well chosen. The special effects were pretty good. The Robot was well constructed and performed quite effectively by Brian Steele.
This turned out to be a pretty compelling and fun series. Although I tend to be a bit leery of remakes of this sort, I don’t swear then off, and I am looking forward to the promised second season from Netflix.