Let’s get one thing straight: when it comes to reboots, this particular writer is not the biggest fan. It’s nothing new, but, for us, there needs to be a good reason and context for it, and it cannot—under any circumstance—simply be a rehash of the old story. It must evolve the conceit and prove to us its necessity—particularly in these well-stocked TV times.
Well, friends, allow me to be the first to let you know that Netflix’s Lost in Space is doing the reboot thing exactly right. Reimagining the Robinson family into the near-distant future now has allowed for further exploration of the human spirit, the moral grey areas, and what it means to be a member of the human race in a time of increased connectivity despite the millions and trillions of miles between us.
Featuring a stellar top line cast that includes Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, and Parker Posey—and child actors Maxwell Jenkins, Minda Sundwall, and Taylor Russell—Lost in Space is like if Stranger Things launched into space aboard the mechanics of The Expanse. Which is to say it is very, very good and something to put on your to-watch list when it hits Netflix on April 13.
It’s Got the Mystery
When you’ve got the scientific systems and technological advancements inherent in an intergalactic mini-van (basically), it’s hard to understand how someone could get lost. Yeah, well, guess what? Lost in Space utilizes a few changes to its characters origins (no spoilers!) and a big, fantastical battle sequence to show—but maybe not tell—exactly what happened. And in doing so, it plays the long game: there are enough mysteries to deal with on a micro level when you’ve crash landed onto a goldilocks planet teeming with life, so you can save the “how in the heck did we all get here?” for season two.
And the Hard Science
There are plenty of shows out there cherry-picking scientific plot points to make their stories more interesting—but very few make it as important as the interpersonal machinations also at play. Lost in Space manages both in equal footing, organically interplaying the two in a way that feels organic and earned. Here, scientific knowledge is not only power, it saves their lives on multiple occasions and it’s, frankly, refreshing to see that sort of knowhow held in such high regard (especially now). The ingenuity at the intersection of science and humanity doesn’t muck up the gears, it makes them flow all the more organically—and makes for some seriously cool, new, and inventive ways of solving problems. If you were a fan of the poop potato ingenuity of The Martian, this is like that times six. And if you’re a fan of The Expanse, you’ll be equally as enthralled by what’s happening, mechanically speaking, in Lost in Space.
The World-Building is Spot On
Why in the world would near-future humans leave Earth? And how in the heck did they end up with a humanoid robot friend? And what in the world is so scary about all of it, when there’s that much technology around? All those questions are answered, but not all at once—a strength in storytelling, as it doesn’t doubt the audience’s intelligence. Don’t exposition the audience to death: let them go on the journey. That’s exactly what Lost in Space does. It shows rather than tells, but even when it has to tell you what’s going on—listen, space is still an incredible complex environment foreign from our every day—it’s fascinating and engaging.
And perhaps more exciting than that is the way they make the planet onto which the family has crashed both foreign enough to be exotic and accessible enough to wrap our heads around.
Every Character is Interesting
When it comes to big, flashy science fiction shows, side characters get pushed into more stereotypical, placeholder roles, living forever in service to the main characters’ machinations. Not so in Lost in Space: every character has their own motivations and rich inner life, fully realized and integral to the story—not just the main characters. And the self-assuredness and competence of the women at the heart of the show, particularly Judy and Maureen, adds a more dynamic human level to the on-screen female characterization most women are hungry to ingest.
And they’re diverse to boot! Just as we would expect space to look like—and in spite of our in-road to the story being a majority-white family—there’s a lot more people of color populating this world. This will always be a good thing.
Parker Posey: Need We Say More?
One of the smartest things the series has done—beyond increasing the amount of diversity on the show—is cast Parker Posey as their morally-gray baddie. In the role, Posey plays Dr. Smith with heaps more intrigue and genuine humanity (even if that humanity makes poor life decisions), her complicated backstory perfectly informing the decisions she makes. And it makes for a far more fascinating relationship with the Robinson family as a whole. It’s just a more interesting and dynamic characterization than in the original and we are here.for.it.
Also let’s just be real: Parker Posey is an international treasure we should be using more in things.
And Did We Mention the Science?
Listen: if you’re a hard sci-fi fan, this show is going to get your spidey senses tingling. There’s real—and really cool!—science being used here, both to create and solve problems in a deeply organic way. We won’t give anything away but we will say this: keep an eye out for a scene involving tar, a balloon, and some helium. It’s…very cool.
Are you looking forward to the Lost in Space reboot? As surprised as we are at how flippin’ good it is? Let us know in the comments below!
Editor’s note: Nerdist Industries is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.