The original “Lost In Space” was a totally terrible show. A steaming pile of you-know-what.
So don’t you dare suggest that Netflix is committing TV sacrilege by updating the 1965-68 series with a 10-episode reboot.
The word “cheesy” could have been invented to describe the original, which ran for three seasons and 83 episodes. A product of its time, it began with a rather dark premise and quickly devolved into something campy and cornball.
It began as a show about an evil double agent, Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris), sabotaging the Robinson family’s pioneering mission to another world. It quickly morphed into a show about a sniveling coward/buffoon, Dr. Smith; young Will Robinson (Billy Mumy— who makes a cameo appearance in the reboot); a goofy robot that spouted catch phrases like “Danger, Will Robinson!” and “That does not compute”; and a string of rubber-suited monsters-of-the-week.
If you have fond memories of “Lost in Space,” you clearly haven’t watched it since you were a child. It was, essentially, a kids’ show. And it was stupid.
Yes, I watched it when I was a child. But, like most kids, I watched a lot of bad TV. And even then, I knew “Lost In Space” was no “Star Trek.”
The second-to-last episode has become infamous. “The Great Vegetable Rebellion” featured an extremely hostile talking carrot (an actor in a carrot suit) and actors who can be seen stifling laughs. It acquired a reputation as one of the worst hours of television ever produced.
“All of us were aware of the fact that it was just awful,” Mumy said in an interview with the Archive of American Television. “It was beyond ridiculous. It was terrible.”
So simply telling you that the Netflix version of “Lost in Space” — all episodes start streaming on Friday — is better than the original would be damning it with the faintest of praise.
A lot of reviews are describing the reimagined “Lost in Space” as “darker” than the original. To which I can only say — duh. Of course it is. The original was laughable and ludicrous. It’s not exactly a surprise that the reboot would be darker.
OK, people die and there are genuinely scary monsters, not a guy in a carrot suit. So, yes, the Netflix version is darker.
Maureen Robinson (Molly Parker) is a super-smart scientist who helped design the Jupiters — the smaller ships that will carry families down to their new planet. (Yes, the Robinsons are assigned to the Jupiter 2.) Maureen has raised three super-smart kids — Judy (Taylor Russell), Penny (Mina Sundwall) and Will (Max Jenkins) — while her husband, John Robinson (Toby Stephens), has been off serving in the military.
In the original series, Maureen (June Lockhart) was the dutiful wife cooking dinners; in the reboot, women fare sooooo much better — they’re smart, tough and capable.
The new Maureen isn’t cooking dinner, she’s saving the day. And she plans to end her troubled marriage.
This time around, Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) is a rogue, not an upstanding pilot. And Dr. Smith (Parker Posey) is dangerously insane.
As for the robot, well, let’s just say that he’s a totally different character. And that the special effects that create him are amazing.
For that matter, Netflix’s “Lost in Space” is chock full of absolutely stunning images that are on par with big-screen blockbusters.
Yes, this is the latest example of Hollywood taking an old idea and rebooting it. This is a reboot of a reboot — the original “Lost in Space” was an update of “Swiss Family Robinson.”
No, there’s nothing wrong with a fresh take on an old show. Actually, there’s something kind of great about taking a terrible show and turning it into a good one. And this “Lost in Space” is good.
It’s not flawless. Episode 1 is rather clunky as it toggles between the main narrative and flashbacks that explain what’s going on — although that evens out after the first hour. And if you think too hard about the science of what’s happening, you could ruin it for yourself.
C’mon, it’s TV!
This is an adventure. An edge-of-your-seat thriller, at times. It’s filled with action, danger and suspense, all of which make it very binge-able. It’s also appropriate for most viewers, with the exception of younger children who might be too scared and parents who don’t want their offspring to hear an occasional curse word.
Yes, the “Lost in Space” reboot is better than the original. And that’s not faint praise. I’ve seen all 10 episodes, and I’m hoping Netflix orders a second season so we can see more.