What fun is the rebooted Lost in Space on Netflix.
No more the campy Irwin Allen adventure, nor the dark, bleak feature from 1998, this 10 part series strikes an inspired balance of Saturday matinee family adventure but with adult sensibilities.
Yes there are wholesale changes, notably with Doctor Smith as female and a new backstory for the Robinson clan, but they work if you are detached enough to come at this from a new perspective.
Episode 1 establishes the core relationships of the Robinsons, leaving Doctor Smith and Don West as footnotes with a sign of more to come.
In this age of empowerment, it is Maureen Robinson (Molly Parker) who steps up as leader. As a gifted aerospace engineer with a nous for solving just about every problem -and the maternal instincts of a doting mum- she and husband John Robinson (Toby Stephens) are bringing their children to a new colony as part of the mother ship Resolute.
But when disaster strikes they crash land on an icy, unknown planet which throws Judy Robinson (Taylor Russell), Penny Robinson (Mina Sundwall) and Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins) into all kinds of jeopardy.
While Judy is awfully young to be the ship’s medical doctor, she is also the perfect daughter, much to the consternation of middle child Penny (aka Jan Brady?). The young cast are all given sufficient screen time to allow individual ties, with a bright-eyed Will stumbling across his new best friend in circumstances fitting of Androcles -and yes “Danger Will Robinson” has not been forgotten.
The highly-underrated Parker Posey breathes new life into Doctor Smith, duplicitous without needing to twirl any villainous moustache -just don’t expect to hear “bubble-headed booby” anytime soon. Ignacio Serricchio isn’t given much to work with as a Latino Don West.
With the exception of young Maxwell Jenkins proving what a find he is, Lost in Space belongs to the female performers. Molly Parker (House of Cards, Deadwood) isn’t about to take the back seat June Lockhart occupied in 1965. She upstages Toby Stephens who spends too much time brooding and whispering for my liking.
The script by Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless (Dracula Untold, Gods of Egypt, Prison Break), enthrallingly directed by Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones), also draws upon Lost-like flashbacks which enhance or reconfigure the context for the audience. Visually this makes the most of its Canadian forest locations, with a touch of Halo-design and the music is positively grand -it screams John Williams.
Having now seen 4 episodes, one question remains unexplained: the casting of Taylor Russell as daughter Judy. I can’t work out if her ethnicity is ‘blind casting’ never to be mentioned again, or if there is a backstory to come…
Like the Doctor Who contemporary reboot, Lost in Space brings a TV favourite to a new generation, finding new beats in the story with a nod to the past (watch for one cameo). This will please fans old and young alike.
Lost in Space begins Friday April 13 on Netflix.