Netflix is go-for-launch with its ‘Lost In Space’ reboot
Maxwell Jenkins in Netflix’s “Lost in Space”
Stream it, Will Robinson.
Once you get past the sci-fi glitz, it’s not surprising to see that Netflix’s reimagining of “Lost in Space” is a conventional family drama. What is surprising is that it becomes much more than that.
A fresh take on the 1960s series, “Lost in Space” isn’t a show that forces you to wait through seven episodes to get to the good stuff. It’s not instantly addictive either, but by the halfway point of this first season’s 10-episode run, don’t be surprised if you find yourself binging to the finish.
The most fascinating aspect of its escalating intrigue is the robot, of all things, who is transformed from a boy’s techy sidekick to a mysterious, enigmatic being. The E.T./Elliot-styled metaphysical connection between Will and the sentient droid may mask a lurking Manchurian trigger. The robot makes an iconic impression.
It doesn’t, however, undergird a broader mythology. The series, with a gender-diverse team of writers and directors, wisely bypasses “Lost”- or “Battlestar Galactica”-like ambitions. Instead, an expansive narrative trajectory reveals itself by raising stakes beyond what’s expected.
Legitimate perils and cliffhangers don’t have self-evident solutions; that’s the essence of good drama. Late-season callbacks to early episode markers also provide satisfying payoffs—even gasps.
The basic premise is the same: It’s the future and humans are colonizing new planets. The Robinsons are members of the Jupiter 2, one ship in a bigger fleet headed for an idyllic fresh start. A traumatic event splits the convoy apart, crashing the Robinsons onto the polar region of an unknown planet.
The core characters are also the same: parents John and Maureen, oldest daughter Judy, middle sister Penny, and youngest boy Will. There’s also the scheming Dr. Smith, but replacing Jonathan Harris’s comically effete foil is a dangerously duplicitous Parker Posey. She’s the Phantom Menace of the series. This Smith never regurgitates Harris’s famous catchphrase, “The pain! The pain!” but she does create pain through passive-aggressive cunning.
There’s also Don West, now a roguish Latino who’s cut from the Han Solo cloth, complete with latent integrity but with bantering charisma rather than a droll smolder. Played by Ignacio Serricchio, he’s a surefire favorite, but Taylor Russell is the breakout. To Judy she gives a commanding depth suggestive of serious talent and confident, compelling instincts.
The strained Robinson marriage starts in predictable beats of estrangement, but extended storylines across multiple episodes create an unexpected arc for these two—through both conflicts and confessionals—that’s rich, substantial, and moving, and actors Molly Parker and Toby Stephens invest it with conviction.
Netflix pours a lot of cash into this sci-fi spectacle featuring first-rate TV special effects, movie-level production design, and epic visual landscapes, delivering tense, sometimes dark set pieces that thrill. And the show leans into science just enough to inspire kids to pursue it themselves.
“Lost in Space” may not be top-tier peak TV or become a “Stranger Things” phenomenon, but it’s pop entertainment that, to its credit, is smarter than it needs to be.