Would you believe the Robinson family might be the next big thing on Netflix? On the second day of WonderCon 2018, Netflix offered fans an advance look at the impressive pilot episode, and it’s almost enough to make us forgive the ‘90s reboot.
There’s very little of Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space in this pilot. The script doesn’t go for campy moments, and the production values blow both the original series and the last reboot away. More importantly, the pilot puts the Robinsons under the microscope from the very beginning and makes them feel like a real family. They don’t necessarily like each other all of the time. Sibling rivalry comes to the surface, and there’s even conflict between the parents, John and Maureen. But there’s an underlying love for each other that holds the family together even as the episode puts the screws to them.
This incarnation also broadens the scope of the Robinsons’ mission to colonize another world and sets up the backstory to establish why they had to leave Earth behind. The adult characters have more shades of gray than their earlier counterparts, including the two familiar faces who didn’t get much screen time in this episode. Almost everyone made a very memorable impression, including the Robot. Two big moments late in the pilot had the WonderCon crowd cheering and clapping, so it definitely seemed to connect with its target audience. If the remaining nine episodes of the first season can live up to this pilot, it’s got the potential to be one of Netflix’s biggest hits.
After the screening, moderator Clark Wolfe welcomed executive producer Zack Estrin to the stage alongside cast members Toby Stephens, Molly Parker, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, Maxwell Jenkins, Ignacio Serricchio, and Parker Posey. Estrin told the crowd that Netflix is the reason this reboot exists, as they were able to provide the production value this story needed.
Stephens shared his appreciation of the Robinsons as a real modern family, and he also liked that his character, John, has faults. Stephens says he connected with John’s attempts and desire to be a better parent.
Parker said she loved the original version of Maureen, but the first show was from a different time, with a different dynamic. Parker added that all of the women in the new show are really strong and it’s not even a question about whether they belong. She went on to say the series is set only 30 years in the future, and that it was incredible to play someone so smart and so flawed.
As the new Will Robinson, Jenkins was proud to say he bonded with the original performer, Bill Mumy, over comic books. Jenkins told the crowd that he had first heard the famous “Danger, Will Robinson!” line from Family Guy and acknowledged the performers have big shoes to fill.
According to Sundwall, Penny is struggling to find her place in the family as the middle child. As shown in the pilot, Penny is also the romantic literature buff who feels out of place among her siblings and parents. However, she added that Penny will become more comfortable and strong with who she is.
Russell’s Judy is the eldest sibling in the new Robinson clan, and she said that playing Judy made her into a stronger person. She also confirmed that Judy’s uncomfortable situation in the pilot gave her some very real anxiety, but she likened it to suffering for her art. Russell considers it an honor to be on the show and has admiration for her character.
When asked how his take on Don West differs from the classic series, Serricchio answered in Spanish before giving his real answer. His Don is a blue-collar worker who cares only for himself at the moment, and he doesn’t share the values of the Robinsons. But there are lessons to be learned.
Finally, Posey shared her affection for the original series and the way she would get up very early in the morning to watch the repeats in syndication. She added that she loved the first Dr. Smith, and especially adored Mumy for his Lost in Space role and his famous guest appearance in The Twilight Zone. Posey also loves the fact that Dr. Smith is a woman now and loves playing the part.
Estrin confirmed that the Robinsons will have a much larger range of characters whom they will encounter on this show, as he emphasized the fact that an international cast signed on for the season. It’s a global epic.
Responding to a fan question, Jenkins spoke about celebrating his birthday while filming on a glacier, which made him realize how lucky he is to be on the show. He almost missed out on the part when his family rejected the script because it would keep him away for too long. But he wanted to do it because it was sci-fi and it had a robot.
Apparently, Serricchio is a bit of a talker and a mover during his makeup sessions. This led to an unfortunate accident with his hair, which meant he had to use a hairpiece to cover a spot that was shaved.
Sundwall revealed she messed up her lines during the audition, and Estrin made her do it again with the correct script. Estrin added that Jenkins’ audition made him cry even when he watched it on his iPhone. Stephens didn’t audition, and he seemed grateful for that.
To close out the panel, the recently released trailer for the series was played for the crowd.