You HAVE To Watch: Lost In Space
The binge/starve cycle of streaming shows wears me out.
Case in point: Lost In Space.
I didn’t get into season 1 right away. It took the right combination of friends telling me “you HAVE to watch Lost In Space, it’s sooooooooo good” to check it out. I liked it a lot, and watched the second season upon release in 2019. Netflix announced soon after to expect the third and final season late 2021. They might as well have said the show was cancelled, 2021 seemed so far away.
Lost In Space season 3 released yesterday, and it feels out of nowhere and all of a sudden.
And even though I’m an episode behind on Hawkeye and Wheel of Time, and I’d love to check out Arcane and Cowboy Bebop, Finishing off Lost In Space shot to near the top of my watch list (after Hawkeye).
Lost In Space?
Netflix’s Lost In Space reboots the classic 1960s sci-fi series of the same name. It follows the space family Robinson desperately trying to survive a hostile planet and complicated familial bonds. There’s also a robot and a villain.
I barely know anything about the original series beyond “Danger Will Robinson!” and the impression it was hocky. Which isn’t fair of me, honestly. It’s a classic for a reason, and reducing a show whose name resonates even with a non-fan like me 60 years later minimizes that enduring legacy.
Even if the original series and its 90s movie adaptation were corny, reboots like Battlestar Galactica proved that a solid concept can overcome the reputation of previous adaptations.
So, Lost In Space could be good, but…
Is It Soooooo Good?
It really is. Here’s why.
Newb Friendly, Fan Approved
If you’re going into the new Lost In Space with as little exposure to the franchise as I had, you know enough. You’ll miss some Easter eggs, sure, and those more familiar with the characters watch in anticipation of their arcs going where they went before. Fortunately, showrunner Zack Estrin laid out a captivating story whether you know what to expect or not.
Earlier I mentioned that “the right combination of friends” recommended it. In addition to friends whose tastes I know line up with my own, friends who know their sci-fi also loved it. It’s always nice when a reboot manages to appeal to everyone. And not in spite of the original, but enhanced by it.
This show is intense. The first episode had me more worried about characters I’d just met than any show I can think of. Minor spoiler for the first episode, but early on John, the Robinson family patriarch, has to choose between leaving one child in potential danger and abandoning another in clear an present danger. Arithmetically, there’s a right answer, which the characters acknowledge. But the show still understands the drama of the moment and focuses on the emotions of the characters as much as the dangers of the scenario.
Drama, Will Robinson!
John didn’t get a deus ex machina out of the dangerous situation. He left one child in a dangerous situation, and ramifications of his choice play out over the rest of the season. And when John and Robinson matriarch Maureen argue about John’s decision, it’s not that TV trope where one character is quietly mad until the other apologizes, which unlocks their ability to communicate like human beings. Instead, the arguments happen organically, and the show acknowledges that neither is right or wrong in their reaction to the terrible situation they found themselves in.
The interplay between the three siblings is interesting and original. Best of all, it avoids melodrama. Judy Robinson, Maureen’s daughter from her first marriage, outshines Penny Robinson, the middle child, in everyway. Judy and John, her step-father, share a bond that’s stronger that his bond with Penny, because his training as a Navy SEAL left him with an appreciation for talent. But Penny doesn’t throw fits about being overlooked and undervaluable. She feels that way, but thanks to understated writing and performance, it’s relatable and sympathetic.
A Tight Ship
The first two seasons are each 10 episodes long. The new season is only eight episodes. The plot never drags, it can’t afford to. And although I haven’t gotten around to the last season, I love the fact that they concluded the show. The kids didn’t age out of their roles, the production didn’t need to find new ways to keep them lost, the mystery of the robot (oh, there’s a whole mystery about the robot) can be resolved without being artificially extended.
Lost In Space deserves its praise. It’s on par with The Expanse for quality dramatic science fiction, but with more personal stakes. And the stakes are high. Characters are in danger, there’s action and horror, and a lot of reasons to care about these characters. I can’t wait to start the last season.
Now you know,