For us serious geeks of a certain age, Irwin Allen's sci-fi adventure show of the '60s, Lost in Space, holds a special place in our hearts, whether watched in its initial 1965-1968 run or when it went into full-blown syndication reruns in the '70s.
The concept, taken from a Silver-Age Gold Key comic series called The Space Family Robinson, was essentially the classic 1812 novel by Johann David Wyss, The Swiss Family Robinson, but with spaceships, ray-guns, and exotic planets instead of a remote island and palm trees. Lost in Space launched on CBS on September 15, 1965, and lasted three slightly-campy seasons before being canceled.
Respectfully ignoring the 1998 Lost in Space feature film, a bold new take on the nostalgic family-friendly fave has been created by executive producers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless and it's a refreshing mission into the mysterious depths of outer space. The screenwriting duo is a hot commodity these days, penning the scripts for Dracula Untold, The Last Witch Hunter, Gods of Egypt, and Power Rangers.
When Legendary Pictures first mentioned Lost in Space as a potential project for them, the prolific pair leaped at the chance to resurrect a childhood favorite.
POTENTIAL SPOILERY TERRITORY AHEAD!
Netflix picked up the 10-episode series for its burgeoning slate of diverse programming and this ambitious, glossy-looking series perfectly fills an urgent need for more kid-friendly, live-action shows sporting impressive production values.
Lost in Space stars Toby Stephens, Molly Parker, Ignacio Serricchio, Taylor Russell, Maxwell Jenkins, and Parker Posey and takes a departure from the simple premise of the original show. Instead of hopping adrift from planet to planet, this time the iconic Jupiter 2 spaceship is part of a colonizing convoy attached to a mothership when it's suddenly attacked by a rogue robot and forces the lifeboat spaceships to detach and land on an uncharted planet.
The comforting themes of family and resourcefulness are still front and center, but there's a clever twist on Will Robinson's robotic pal that is a brilliant piece of storytelling. Yes, the angular android does still say, "Danger, Will Robinson," but the bond between the two has interesting origins and fans will be surprised at many of the series' twists and turns.
Lost in Space's overall tone is pure Spielbergian delight, infused with a heartfelt sense of wonder amid the compelling human conflicts and accented by sensational, colorful special effects and set pieces reminiscent of splashy summer tentpole pictures.
Another change in the show is the gender-bent take on the infamous character of Dr. Zachary Smith (the pain, the pain!), so admirably played in the original series by Jonathan Harris. This time, Dr, Smith is replaced by talented cult actress Parker Posey, who assumes the identity of the real Dr. Smith (played by Bill Mumy in a clever cameo) and joins the pioneering Robinson clan as they attempt to survive the harsh and dangerous environment of the unintended home and reunite with other marooned families.
The pilot and accompanying episodes debut on the inauspicious date of Friday, April 13, but this Neil Marshall-directed effort is no superstitious omen normally shadowing beloved rebooted classics. It contains some admirable special effects sequences that shine amid the intriguing flashbacks to the Robinson family's pre-mission life on Earth, which explain the disaster that befalls the planet, necessitating a desperate leap into the stars to search for a safe destination in the Alpha Centauri system.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Zack Estrin praised the show's grounded nature and balanced tone, calling it “a true family adventure in the vein of the original Jurassic Park.”
As the original Dr. Smith might have said, don't be a "bubble-headed booby," and miss this sparkling new sci-fi saga when Lost in Space premieres on Netflix on April 13.
And stay tuned for our interview with Lost in Space writer/creators Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless coming next week!