Netflix is no stranger to big-budget adventures, and their latest original series is a perfect example of that. Based on the ‘60s classic of the same name, Lost In Space centres on the Robinson family as they flee earth in the hopes of finding a fresh start elsewhere. However, when their spaceship experiences turbulence, they find themselves hurtling towards an unknown planet. After crash-landing, the Robinsons exit their craft to find themselves on a peaceful, serene, snowy planet, but issues soon arise when they realise that they’re going to freeze to death. Oh yeah, and they’re not alone. Shocker.
Being unfamiliar with the original series, I had no idea what to expect going in, but I had high hopes considering I’m a fan of the genre, and the premise certainly appealed to me. Surprisingly, in an era of slow-burn entertainment, Lost In Space subverts this trend. The Netflix series doesn’t hang about and gets straight into the action. The characters are well developed and there’s plenty of conflicts — both internal and external. Writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless are very good at withholding information from the viewers — primarily when it comes to the Robinsons. At first, Lost In Space appears to be about a loving, close-knit family heading towards their fresh start, but as we move further into this futuristic tale, the cracks begin to show in Maureen and John’s marriage.
Flashbacks tell the story of how the Robinsons found themselves escaping earth, and through this, the troubled relationship between the two characters come to light. Unlike a lot of other series — I’m looking at you Arrow — the flashbacks never feel forced or formulaic. They’re very much warranted, and as viewers, we’re dying to know more about how Maureen and John found themselves in this predicament, as well as why the Earth is no longer inhabitable. Moreover, the flashbacks are a welcomed (albeit temporary) release from all of the nail-biting action that’s going on in the present day narrative.
There are certainly a few clichés along the way —the feuding daughters and the optimistic child to name a few — but strong plotting covers them well. Of course, like every great science fiction story, we connect with the youngest child, Will, more-so than the others. Not only does he share a name with Stranger Things’ protagonist, he’s just as unfortunate too. But like Stranger Things, this Will is the emotional heart of the story, and even the hardest sci-fi fans may find themselves weeping during much of the character’s on-screen journey. The climax of the first episode is heart-warming to say the least and it certainly had me reaching for the remote to move onto the next one.
Netflix never fails when it comes to production values, and Lost In Space is without a doubt the streaming service’s most ambitious production yet. The special effects and visual backdrops are astoundingly good, and the cinematography is gorgeous and, when viewed in High Dynamic Range 4K, they’re out of this world (See what I did there?).
While the scripts are perhaps not as multi-dimensional as I’d say The OA or Stranger Things, Lost In Space accomplishes everything it sets out to do. Is it original? Perhaps not. But it promised to be a big-budget sci-fi spectacular and that’s exactly what we got. Additionally, strong characters and an emotional story give Netflix’s big robot-series a heart — something that has been in missing in several science fiction-based pieces in the past. What’s interesting — and rare these days — is that Lost In Space is not aimed at a particular audience. Much like the ‘60s original, this show is for family viewing. While it’s very much a sci-fi adventure, at its heart is a story of a broken family and, as they navigate through their alien surroundings, they begin to mend the cracks in their relationships. Is it clichéd? Yes, absolutely, but it’s also very entertaining, and you’re missing out if you don’t watch it.
Contributed by Stephen Patterson
Lost In Space is now streaming on Netflix.