There is nothing scarier than being stranded in space and Gravity taught us that all too well. But, being up there among the stars is also fascinating. This great combination of fear and fascination has been explored by countless TV shows and films, none more iconic than Star Trek. I started watching it as a little kid because my dad was a huge fan. Since then, I have been hooked to shows and films that explore life up there, light years away, finding new worlds. Lost in Space is one such show that tells the story of a group of people who have been selected to set up a human colony on a star system called Alpha Centauri. It is a remake of 1965 series of the same name which itself was inspired by an 1812 book named The Swiss Family Robinson.
At centre stage here are the Robinsons. In the beginning, they appear to be one big happy family but soon enough, flashbacks start revealing the cracks and we get to know the characters a little bit better (read: deeper). The season starts with a bang and we see the group being asked to evacuate the Resolute (mothership) and get into pre-assigned smaller ships called Jupiters. Robinsons too get into their Jupiter and leave the mother –ship but like many others, they crash onto an alien planet. Things start to go downhill even further and they battle one life threating situation after another.
I don’t want to give any more spoilers so I will say nothing further about the story. All I will say is that the story starts off really well and pulls you in immediately. Unfortunately, it is unable to maintain the pace and starts feeling somewhat lethargic by the middle of the season
The biggest strength of the show is the visuals and level of production which will even beat most Hollywood films
It is extremely rare to see a series with such high production value. Kudos to Netflix for not cutting corners and going the extra mile to create a beautiful and engaging visual experience. Add to this some great set-pieces and action sequences that provide a lot of entertainment.
The cherry on top is the robot and thankfully, the creators did not go down a clichéd path
You know, how most robots look, feel, walk, or talk like a derivative of C3PO from Star Wars. However, the robot here is unlike anything you would have seen or heard and that is very refreshing. Some of the best moments of the season feature the robot and the youngest Robinson, Will.
It is one thing to create a fantastic world but what makes all of it believable for the audience is the actors. The lead stars Molly Parker (Maureen Robinson) and Toby Stephens (John Robinson) do a great job along with Taylor Russel (Judy Robinson). The show may have a science fiction premise but it is the emotions of this family that make the show worth watching.
Standing against Robinsons and everyone else is Dr Smith played by Parker Posey and she also happens to be the weakest link. She is shown as cunning and selfish and my guess is that the attempt was to create a complicated character. Yet, the final product is not satisfying. She seemed more confused than complicated, more over the top (not in her acting) than subtle. The show and the narrative really needed a strong villain but sadly this is where the show falls flat because Dr Smith as the villain is all over the place.
Another shortcoming the show has is the supporting characters. There are none. No time is invested to develop other characters. . Honestly, even the characters of the main cast could get a bit more refinement. Hence, there are no engaging parallel storylines or layers to the central plot. I would have also liked to hear a more powerful background score. I am not expecting Hans Zimmer but a show like this that has so many big scenes and winning moments for characters deserved a better score.
Let me be clear, Lost in Space is no Star Trek. It is not even in the same league. Nevertheless, it still offers an entertaining enough package. You get oodles of fantastic visuals, good lead actors, some fine set-pieces and a few pinches of genre-extending stuff. Watch it if you like space sagas or if you are looking for some decent science fiction. It will not take your breath away but will have enough to get you through the season.