Lost in space

PLEASE NOTE: ScienceFiction.com was given special early access to the first five episodes of ‘Lost in Space’ courtesy of Netflix.  Minor spoilers may lie in the review below, but all major plot-specific spoilers have been given their best attempt at being avoided.  Please proceed in reading this advance review with this knowledge and at your own risk!

Netflix doesn’t waste any time thrusting viewers right into the heat of action in the first episode of ‘Lost in Space.’  There are no opening credits: before you can even say “Danger, Will Robinson,” there’s… uh, well, there’s danger.  And Will Robinson!

Netflix is going to try and fool you, though, so be forewarned; the opening scene seems fairly serene, featuring a game of zero-g Go Fish amongst the Robinson family on-board the Jupiter 2, but the family fun doesn’t last very long before it’s Red-Alert time.  The ship, being run rather unsuccessfully by auto-pilot, is in the process of crash-landing on an alien planet – along with several other Jupiter-class vessels as well.  The Robinsons are part of a larger recolonization effort aboard the transport vessel The Resolute; in a back-story told via flashbacks interspersed throughout the episode, Earth is in bad shape and a variety of travelers are selected to colonize a new world.  As is usually the case with the best-laid plans of men, however, things don’t exactly go as planned.

So, our intrepid family of interstellar explorers crash-lands on an icy and rather desolate-looking planet, and the bad news starts to compound.  In a series of challenging situations and life-threatening obstacles, the quintet is split up and must rely on one another to get themselves through – a task that becomes particularly challenging once the viewer sees, via further flashbacks, that the family dynamic isn’t as peachy-keen as an unknowing outsider may be led to believe.

Multiply these personal issues with the threats being faced in the alien environment and this first episode certainly makes for high drama – and more questions being asked than answered, although that’s an understandable issue to have in a serialized, binge-able, non-monster-of-the-week TV series format such as we have here.  Eagle-eyed viewers who are fans of the original ‘Lost in Space’ series will find some goodies scattered throughout the episode, highlighted by the whimsical semi-retro score and the surprising appearance of original series cast member Bill Mumy!  Who is his character and how does it figure into the storyline?  Well, that’s a mystery that will have to remain Lost to you for now.  See what I did there?

The final few minutes of this episode feature a flashback to the Resolute’s Red-Alert evacuation point, pre-crash landing, where we are introduced to the “new” versions of Dr. Smith and Major Don West.  Once again, here we are left with more questions than answers, but it’s all designed, of course, to keep you watching into Episode 2 (and beyond) – which I’m happy to report, after this high-action first episode with good acting and great special effects, you’ll almost assuredly want to keep going.  Join us tomorrow here on ScienceFiction.com for the review of the second episode of ‘Lost in Space!

Lost in Space is a Netflix Original dramatic and modern reimagining of the classic 1960’s science fiction series. Set 30 years in the future, colonization in space is now a reality, and the Robinson family is among those tested and selected to make a new life for themselves in a better world. But when the new colonists find themselves abruptly torn off course en route to their new home they must forge new alliances and work together to survive in a dangerous alien environment, light-years from their original destination. Stranded along with the Robinsons are two outsiders who find themselves thrown together by circumstance and a mutual knack for deception. The unsettlingly charismatic Dr. Smith is a master manipulator with an inscrutable end game. And the roguish, but inadvertently charming Don West is a highly-skilled, blue collar contractor, who had no intention of joining the colony, let alone crash landing on a lost planet.

Lost in Space stars Toby Stephens as John Robinson, Molly Parker as Maureen Robinson, Parker Posey as Dr. Smith, Ignacio Serricchio as Don West, Taylor Russell as Judy Robinson, Mina Sundwall as Penny Robinson and Max Jenkins as Will Robinson.

The full first season of ‘Lost in Space’ will premiere on Netflix on Friday, April 13, 2017.