Cheeseburger Gothic

Lost In Space remake. First thoughts

Posted April 16, 2018 into Telly by John Birmingham

I used to watch Lost in Space every day after school. It was on after Gilligan's Island and before Hogan's Heroes. I loved it.

Naturally I jumped right into the Netflix reboot as soon as it dropped. I'll cut to my take now; I enjoyed it hugely. But I can already see there are some who don't.

Over on the Book of Face, Cam Rogers, elbowed his way through all the Russian trolls and adverts for colostomy bags (I told the Zuck I was born in 1901) to lay the following smackdown on the reboot:

What is it with so many current generation TV shows being populated with characters I don't want to spend five minutes with?
The Lost In Space reboot: flat scenes, irritating characters you wanna see die ASAP, minimal sets and locations, boilerplate structure, hacky as fuck, the Dad is yet another stoic soldier-as-father-figure agitprop cliche, the kids are entitled and self-aborbed brats, boring, or talk like a middle-aged LA writer - all without telling us anything about them *at all*.
Just die already.

Ok. Thanks Cam. I can see you have issues. And some of them are even nudging legit. The structural critique is spot on, but so what? It's like trashing an old Saturday matinee pirate movie for inadequate consideration of inequities in the maritime labour market which predisposed underclass workers to unauthorised redistributive tactics.

It's Lost in Space, not Twin Peaks, or even Battlestar Galactica 2.0. The teenaged characters are indeed often self absorbed and bratty, which just makes them very accurate portrayals of teenagers.

Toby Stephens' John Robinson is totally another stoic soldier-as-father-figure, but there's not much agitprop there. He's a much deeper and well realised character than Guy William's jump-suited Mike Brady Brand hunk of beef. The pilot dips its toe into cliche, with some early family flashbacks to happier days, and then it all turns to shit, much more interesting shit, as Stephen's absent marine loses contact with his family, and then almost loses the family altogether.

I have no probs with the sets or scenery. I used to build out my own imaginary Jupiter 2 in a cubby house in our back yard as a kid, and if I had a couple of million bucks to reimagine it today, it'd look pretty close to the Netflix version. I'm only three eps into the series, so I don't know where they'll end up in future story arcs, but given the restrictions of actually filming on Earth, I thought the mash-up of Hoth and every bucolic Stargate forest planet ever was a pretty reasonable start.

Parker Posey's Dr Smith is a fantastic gender swap, and she's so far done a great job of making her Smith every bit as creepy and villainous as Jonathon Harris's character was campy and ridiculous. The original Smith was a pantomime villain. Posey is way more dangerous.

Each episode appears to pose one major problem for the colonists to solve, within a larger meta narrative, and I'm cool with that. I've enjoyed it so much so far that I'm having to stop myself rushing through the whole series in one or two sittings. Instead i'll probably do a slow binge. One ep a night until I'm done.

20 Responses to ‘Lost In Space remake. First thoughts’

Bangar puts forth...

Posted April 16, 2018
I've only watched the first ep, I'm willing to give it a go, Anyone else pick up the cameo?

Respond to this comment

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 16, 2018
Caught the first episode, really enjoyed it, the family dynamic felt very contemporary. (Which it never did in the original) The intro of 'Dr Smith' and I think Major West at the end of the episode was wonderful. Bangar I spotted Lennier from Babylon 5 if that's what you mean.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted April 16, 2018
I think the Don West character is going to be much ore interesting than the original.

Respond to this thread

Bangar would have you know...

Posted April 16, 2018
Well done sir

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted April 16, 2018
I never would have got that.

Respond to this thread

Bondiboy66 asserts...

Posted April 16, 2018
I don't have netflix...but my folks do. I might be paying a visit to have a look at this. Heaven knows that I was a HUGE Irwin Allen fan as a kid - Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants and of course the best was Lost in Space! I do hope they do the show justice. Do they get to fit a few Jonathan Harris alliterative lines in giving the robot a rev up - 'bumbling booby' and the like?

Respond to this comment

WA n'ker would have you know...

Posted April 16, 2018
I like your take on the bratty teenagers being teenagers.
Reminds me of some critisicms of annakin in ep 2 and 3. I mean if i was a 13-16 yr old who had full on jedi powers and a big boner for the delectable padme, what do you reckon would happen?

Respond to this comment

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 16, 2018
I used to watch it as a kid too but I doubt I'll get a look in with the anti science fiction vibe going on in the TV/Netflix environment in the household. Makes Toned Abs look like Professor Poindexter.

Respond to this comment

Rhino reckons...

Posted April 17, 2018
Original Lost in Space is a Rhino fave.

Have watched the first 2. Am also slow binging.

Am suspending disbelief on wonky science ... and economic disbelief around building individual spaceships for colonist families (as opposed to prefab shelters that could be dropped, etc.).

Love me some Parker Posey.

This is provisionally Rhino Approved.

My main quibble is that I’m dying to hear the opening theme.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon puts forth...

Posted April 20, 2018
The opening theme gets a look in. Maybe ep3? I'm liking it. In my household i need an escape from the dearth of crime/murder mystery eps

FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted May 2, 2018
Just to revive this thread: after bingeing it myself and finding it good i sat down and gave it another run with the kids. They love it (as kids used to love the original). So it gets 5 stars from me.

Respond to this thread

jl mumbles...

Posted April 17, 2018
As a kid I never knew hate until I watched Lost in Space and met Doctor Smith.

I really need to step into the 21st century and get Netflix. Altered Carbon is on my list, too.

Respond to this comment

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted April 17, 2018
Hiya mates. It's been a while.

Didn't love it. Wanted dreck transformed into the best science fiction television I've ever seen, and that didn't happen.

This was not an unreasonable expectation considering the results of Altered Carbon and Jessica Jones. Netflix knows how to mine original content to make gold.

But I liked it a lot, for many of the same reasons thus far articulated. The update characters - including the Robot - and the expanded story free of ultra low budget considerations are all big fun. The first time the Robot said "danger Will Robinson" was thrilling. And although the \"bricks\" of touchy-feely dialogue are annoying, that is what the fast forward button on the remote is for. I look forward to the next season.

Respond to this comment

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted April 17, 2018
God forbid we have a soldier protagonist.

jl is gonna tell you...

Posted April 17, 2018
Yeah, can't have that.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted April 17, 2018
Yeah, I'm not sure how Rogers got the agit-prop message. This John Robinson is a mess. There's a real cost to his service.

Vovchara swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 4, 2018
Oh no, we can't have military protagonists on TV or in the Movies. And if we have some, we better make a mess of the rank structure and they better do not wear uniforms (hello Star Wars The Last Jedi).

Respond to this thread

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted April 17, 2018

Issues with him being an ex soldier / Marine / Jarhead returned serviuceman fkn been in the shit....OH FKN PLEEEEEAS!

What other backstory character fkn issues do you lot fkn have. I guess we could have made him a fkn woman, or transfkn genedr and more fkn PC post world fkn ending nothappy about character fkn developement instead of just fkn immersing yourself in the fkn show and the moment and having a bit of fkn fun. FKN ANT FKN FUN FK POLIC EFK ME!

Its great....and I've got a fkn thing for Mrs Robinson toooo and the fkn song and yeah shes in the HOUSE OF FKN CARDS WE SHOULD AHVE KEPT KEIN ON. FK...FK FK FK AND DOUBLE FKN FK!

insomniac reckons...

Posted April 17, 2018
I wish the Havock of old would make a comeback. This mild mannered muppet is FKN soft.

Respond to this thread

Vovchara ducks in to say...

Posted May 4, 2018
I was writing a measured response to this thread, but after reading havock's stream of consciousness I decided to forgo this attempt and say exactly what I am thinking. Here comes...
WTF wrong with you people? How can JB whose works are always a delightful mix of entertainment and common sense could find this piece of crap interesting? This stuff is so antiquated it hurts. All plot points have been done to death in the past. There is nothing original here, nothing thought out.
WTF is with all those plot conveniences? Water freezing right when it most inconvinient, a freaking space ship flooding despite an airlock which normally would not allow keeping both hutches open, so no flooding a hermetically sealed container which any freaking spaceship is.
WTF with Zero-G in the first scene during the deorbiting burn? In the times when "The Expanse" is paying attention to small things like Coriolis forces, the morons writing "Lost in Space" don't even understand simple Newton's laws.
WTF with a crash? They went into space expecting to land somewhere, right?

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'Lost In Space remake. First thoughts'

Follow along with RSS