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TV Review: Lost in Space (Season 1)

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Netflix's swanky reboot of Lost in Space is a lot of things, all at once. There are many missing pieces within the story and many unanswered questions, but still it has the potential to be something impressive.

As in the original series (aired in the 1960s), the story begins with the arrival of the Robinson family on a planet which is quite similar to ours, and charts their fight for survival as their spacecraft Jupiter crashes in the middle of nowhere.

In the first two episodes, you may witness the redundancy of the dialogue between the characters and the somewhat unrealistic performances of the actors (in their defense, most of them haven't much experience in the sci-fi genre) however, things begin to improve and the roles start to fit into place as the story progresses. The one tiny exception is Penny (Mina Sundwall) whose character at the beginning is not so well built. She makes jokes in the most awkward of moments and appears to be far too cheerful for the situation she and her family are in (almost as if it is a normal thing that your planet to be on the verge of dying and you're left careening through space...)

Having said that, as we watch how the story develops, we come to the realization that the Robinsons are not the perfect family at all. Each of them have an old issues to resolve; Maureen and John (Molly Parker and Toby Stephens) are on the verge of divorce as they fly through space, while their children struggle to connect with their father as he was far too often away from home. A big proportion of the season revolves around this - it is very much a family situation and how the Robinsons learn to ‘stick them together’’.

As the Robinsons try to deal with their conflicts as much as surviving, new characters are introduced and we learn that there are other survivors from the crash, and one of them is not even human. That happens almost by accident when Will (Maxwell Jenkins), the youngest child, saves the Robot who at first appeared to be pretty hostile. Somehow the so called Robot reprograms himself and starts to perceive Will as a friend, doing whatever the boy tells him to do. It is here that interesting questions start to pop up: Why did the Robot’s ship crash too? Why did it attack the ship with the colony in the first place? What is it the purpose of all of this? And how come the Robot is so advanced that he starts to perceive human emotions and learn to imitate human behavior?

However, the real villain in the story might not be the alien-robot race but the character of June Harris or Dr. Smith (Parker Posey) whose aim is to survive whatever the cost. Mind you, Dr. Smith has a lot of skeletons in the closet and while she is described as a somewhat unscrupulous character, she is more of a mild annoyance to everyone rather than a proper villain. If you need a person who will gladly mess things up and make the story interesting, she is the right person.

Things get worse and worse, as the characters are faced with the daunting task of escaping the planet they just landed on. Even though it closely resembles the Earth's climate, (with water and oxygen), it is not the promised land for which many of them hope. The fact that the planet is going to be destroyed by a giant black hole as Molly discovers the existence of the Hawking radiation phenomenon on one of her journeys, definitely puts everything in a different perspective.

Are there other habitual planets out there? What about the existence of the Robots - where do they come from after all? And what happened to the Earth, what exactly destroyed it? The producers have optimistically promised that the answer to the last question will be clarified in the next season (should the series be renewed) as much of the attention will be shifted towards the Earth and the conditions in which our planet is.

Despite all the mysteries that have yet to be revealed, this first season sets up a solid base from which new plot twists and adventures can develop. Full of interesting questions and a lot of moral dilemmas and lessons, Lost in Space is definitely worth a watch. 

Lost in Space is available to watch on Netflix.

 

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