Binge or Purge?: Lost in Space
Lost in Space isn’t an out of this world reboot, but solid acting, above average visuals, and the cliffhanger nature of each episode make for binge-worthy entertainment.
Despite all the new sci-fi hitting streaming and cinema, reboots are still a thing. I thought the 1998 movie adaptation of Lost in Space had finally left the Robinson family stranded for all time, but Netflix went and found another family (unsurprisingly surnamed Robinson) to shoot off into the great beyond.
I can’t say Lost in Space was phenomenal, but it has just enough going for it to make signing up for this expedition worthwhile. And if you’re in for a penny, you’re most likely in for a pound, as this show uses cliffhanger after cliffhanger to make that “next episode” button hard to say no to.
Lost in Space (2018)
An unknown calamity has made life on Earth an unappealing option. The Robinson family has opted for a hail Mary attempt at a new life by boarding the Resolute, a colony ship heading for a new home-world. Along the way the family is forced to board an escape pod, which crashes on a habitable yet hostile planet.
Episode 1: “Impact”
In the pilot episode we meet the Robinson family: parents John and Maureen and their children Penny, Judy, and Will. A cataclysmic event called the Christmas Star has made it imperative that humanity create a new home-world, and the Robinsons are selected for the 24th journey to that new home. Something goes wrong, and the family crashes on an unknown world. Time and the elements are not on their side, but a new life-form might be their savior. Or their doom.
In this episode, we get brief vignettes that establish the personalities of this modern nuclear family. At first this family might come across as grating and overly snippy, but little conversations here and there show a bedrock of trust and affection that carries this episode along.
Oh, and disaster, lots of disaster. Nothing ever goes right for the Robinsons, and this planet seems hell-bent on ending their voyage by any means necessary. The constant threat can get a little tiring, but it also teases out little aspects of the family that elevate the episode.
Episode 2: “Diamonds in the Sky”
The family is back together, but not out of immediate danger. The ship is trapped in ice, their newfound companion(s) is a potentially dangerous mystery, and an incoming storm threatens to destroy them. Just another day for the Robinsons!
The cliffhanger nature of episode 1 got me to start this episode, the character development kept me. Once again, this show likes to take a barely likable family and add in vignettes and conversations that endear them to you. In the first episode Judy was the precocious one; here we see her dealing with the aftermath of her “headlong into danger” mentality. These characters are constantly growing and changing, and this uber-hostile world is the crucible for their growth.
Once again, this show can grate at times, but it always veers back into interesting developments in the nick of time. The Robinsons always find a clever way of avoiding disaster, and the show always has a similarly clever way of avoiding my disinterest.
Episode 3: “Infestation”
We finally learn how “Dr. Smith” managed to board the Resolute. Meanwhile the Robinsons must deal with a new life-form with a thirst for their ship’s fuel.
Each episode after the first seems intent on redeeming the most unlikable character from the previous. In episode 2, Judy gets a deeper look, which greatly improves her “I’m the spunky one” character from episode 1. In “Infestation”, both Maureen and Dr. Smith get some much needed work.
Through the trails they undergo, each character is slowly getting fleshed out of their one-note starting points. It’s a nice little one-two, as too much “family time” would be dull, and the near constant threat of death would be wearying without the breaks.
If I had to guess who episode 4 was going to work on, it would probably be Will’s Robot companion: three episodes as a silent cypher is begging for some kind of work.
Binge or Purge?
This one is all going to come down to how you feel about the family. After 2 episodes a family member I was watching Lost in Space with tapped out; she just couldn’t find anyone in the family likable. I soldiered on and came away moderately intrigued.
The acting is above average for a series show: I’d put it just under Battlestar Galactica level. The visuals are decent; they never really wowed me, but they never detract from the storytelling. Each episode gives you just enough back-story and foreshadowing to merit moving on to the next episode. I’d give Lost in Space a Binge rating, but you’ll probably only get as far as your interest in the Robinsons will take you.