Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 22, 2019)
Based on the classic 1960s TV series, Netflix’s Lost In Space updates the property. Season One brings 10 episodes on this Blu-ray set. The synopses come from the official website.
Impact: “On the way to a space colony, a crisis sends the Robinsons hurtling toward an unfamiliar planet, where they struggle to survive a harrowing night.”
Given that I was an infant when the 1960s Space got canceled, I maintain no memories of it. My only connection to the property comes from the much-maligned 1998 theatrical movie.
This left small shoes for the Netflix series to fill. Actually, I thought the 1998 movie offered a reasonably entertaining experience, but I recognize its many flaws.
Rather than offer the basic set-up pre-launch, “Impact” places us in the action and then provides backstory via flashbacks. On the surface, this seems like a good idea, but I’d prefer something more traditional.
Partly that’s because “Impact” attempts to place the characters in various levels of peril, and these seem contrived. We know they won’t kill off any major roles right off the bat, and we also don’t know the participants well enough to care.
These factors make “Impact” a lackluster pilot. It introduces matters in a passable manner but doesn’t really impress. Hopefully the show will improve from here.
Diamonds In the Sky: “Another crash brings more travelers to the planet as the Robinsons work to salvage their ship with help from their mysterious new companion.”
The pilot only hinted at the series’ two main non-Robinson characters, but they get stronger introductions here – and just in time, as the Robinsons themselves remain pretty bland in “Sky”. The new roles add spice and give me some hope that the series will click in the future.
Infestation: “Flashbacks reveal clues to Dr. Smith's (Parker Posey) past. The Robinsons contend with a new threat as the ship's fuel supply starts dropping -- fast.”
If nothing else in this series works, the choice of Posey as Dr. Smith seems inspired. She brings the right kind of arrogance and snarl to the part and seems destined to become its best element.
Dr. Smith’s backstory becomes a primary aspect of “Infestation”. The rest of the episode broadens other horizons reasonably well and this becomes a pretty solid show.
The Robinsons Were Here: “The Robinsons make contact with another family of survivors, and Will (Maxwell Jenkins) races to protect his friend after Judy (Taylor Russell) learns what happened aboard the Resolute.”
Four episodes into S1 and I still feel like the Robinsons remain the least interesting aspect of the show. While the individual roles show some growth, they just don’t connect to me – at least not yet. Since “Here” focuses on them more than the more interesting supporting parts, it winds up as a mediocre episode, though still superior to the forgettable pilot.
Transmission: “As the team builds a tower to signal the Resolute, Maureen (Molly Parker) investigates a planetary anomaly, and Will braces for a tough conversation with his dad John (Toby Stephens).”
The main attraction in “Transmission” comes from its flashbacks to the Robinsons pre-mission. Those give us some intriguing backstory, but the rest feels less compelling, so expect a mixed bag.
Eulogy: “Maureen debates whether to share what she saw in the sky, Don (Ignacio Serricchio) leads a mission to find fuel, and the robot's presence stokes tensions within the group.”
Maureen’s discovery adds tension to the narrative – much needed tension, honestly, as too much of the series has come with a surprising lack of urgency. A few other moments bring spark to the proceedings, and those allow “Eulogy” to become an above-average show.
Pressurized: “While Dr. Smith moves ahead with a secret project, seismic activity wreaks havoc across the planet and leaves two teams facing impossible choices.”
On the positive side, the episode benefits from intriguing developments related to Dr. Smith. On the negative, it spends too much time with John and Maureen, the series’ most boring characters. It does more good than bad, but it’s still a mixed bag.
Trajectory: “Maureen finds a solution to the fuel issue, but putting her plan into action proves trickier than expected. Dr. Smith realizes her cover is blown.”
As usual, the best aspects of “Trajectory” come from Dr. Smith, mainly via the ways she attempts to manipulate various members of the Robinson clan. Other aspects fare relatively well, too, but Dr. Smith elevates the show.
Resurrection: “Judy sets out to find Maureen, while Will and Penny lead an expedition to the caves. Dr. Smith pursues a new escape plan.”
With so little of the season left to explore, I hoped “Resurrection” would build toward a crescendo. While it does explore some movements in that direction, it seems a bit more tepid than I’d like. I do enjoy the flashback to pre-flight Dr. Harris, though.
Danger, Will Robinson: “As the clock ticks down toward the Resolute's departure, the Robinsons scramble to get off the planet -- and out from under Dr. Smith's thumb.”
Does “Danger” end S1 on an exciting note? Sort of, though my general disinterest in the Robinsons becomes an issue. I really don’t care what happens to them, and since “Danger” focuses mainly on their fates, it loses some punch.
Still, it brings us a generally interesting show, one that sends the Robinsons where we expected them to end up back in the pilot. It’s a decent finale for an erratic season.