REVIEWED: SEASON 2 (ALL EPISODES) | WHERE TO WATCH: NETFLIX
The Netflix remake of Lost in Space has been a pretty solid update thus far. The original show was a ‘60s reimagining of the Swiss Family Robinson with a heavy dose of camp. The modern series took the core idea – a family stranded on an alien world and ran with it.
Of course, in order to keep doing that, the Robinsons and their tag-alongs have to keep getting stranded. Season 2 opens with the family barely surviving on a hostile alien world. This gives us an excuse to open with one of the show’s many special effect shots, in this case the family using their space-ship home for a purpose it definitely wasn’t intended for.
Alas, the show does sort of peak early on, as the story settles into a groove and doesn’t really leave it. The new Lost in Space is more a drama about human space exploration than it is about survival in space, and it’s also pretty soft sci-fi. The central plot points revolve around robots and mysterious alien structures, rather than humans trying to colonise space. Though fun, the main plot is broadly quite weak; lots of mild peril and various people acting against their own self-interests because it makes for a better story.
Where Lost in Space shines, however, is the Robinson family itself. The central conceit is that these are good people who make the kindest, most considered choices and are thus repeatedly punished for it. The right thing is rarely the easiest option, so they tend to have to do everything the hard way, and this makes for engaging viewing. The performances are solid, though it’s a little telling that Ignacio Serricchio’s take on ship’s engineer Don West is just more fun and interesting than the actual Robinsons. And of course, there’s that constant foil and pain in the family’s backside, Doctor Smith. Posey Parker is yet again a delight as Smith, though this time around they’ve given her a little bit less of the limelight. This is a very good thing; good villains will always dominate any ensemble cast because being bad is more interesting. But they’ll always reduce her options because selfishness and greedy character tend to have limited choices. Lost in Space is about people trying to do the right thing and, of course, that’s the most fun when it’s a character as rotten as Smith has to take the high road.
The various effects throughout the show are lovely to look at. You can see where a tonne of the budget has gone, and everything from alien worlds to spaceships going boom get lovingly detailed. The supporting cast feel a little irrelevant, and the main storyline is a little saggy in the middle; the whole thing feels about an episode too long. If we get another season, it will very likely be more of the same, but that’s a good thing; Lost in Space is a show that happens to be exactly where it wants to be. Middle of the road and accessible for all.