In the current TV climate of reboots and reimaginings, a series based on the 1960s science fiction drama Lost in Space was always going to be greeted with scepticism.
Given the fact anything that performed well a few decades ago is getting a second chance – from Roseanne to Miami Vice – what’s the best we could hope for here?
A nicer spaceship? A few cameos from original actors? The occasional alien carbon-copied from a success like Stranger Things to make us jump?
Well buckle up sci-fi fans because thankfully, this is all that and much more.
Set 30 years in the future, the Space Family Robinson is once again heading into the unknown, this time to escape a vaguely mentioned disaster heading toward Earth.
Once again, they’re sent off course by an in-flight incident.
Yes, there is a new spaceship (which looks alarmingly like one from another science fiction universe, but let’s not go there), one of the original actors does briefly show up (that would be Bill Mumy, the first Will Robinson), and there is a monster that looks not dissimilar to a Stranger Things Demogorgon at first glance, but it doesn’t take long to see this Lost in Space uses the familiar to take us on a very different ride.
A world away from the 1998 big-screen flop (starring Matt LeBlanc) and backed by the huge Netflix production budget (the network will spend more than $10 billion on content this year), Lost in Space is a visually incredible treat and a cracking adventure story.
Unlike the original series’ Mom and Pop astronauts, John and Maureen (Black Sails’ Toby Stephens and House of Cards’ Molly Parker) are thoroughly modern characters.
She’s fierce, smart and the undisputed head of the family. John is a super-soldier who has spent his life fighting to save his planet. And unless we’re mistaken, they look like they’re about one more bad night away from a divorce.
Daughters Judy and Penny (Taylor Russell and Mina Sundwall) are equally complex. As different in personality as they are in genetic make-up (that’s a whole backstory waiting to unfurl) they’re constantly at each other’s throats.
And then there’s Will (Max Jenkins) who is shy, troubled and rightly scared stiff of what an increasingly hostile universe is throwing at him.
Throw in a sociopathic Doctor Smith (a woman this time around, played by Posey Parker) and a slacker mechanic who has zero interest in being anywhere near the family (Ignacio Serricchio’s updated Don West) and this is clearly the right mix for a family drama that shows how adversity can bring people together.
But what makes this so utterly watchable is the show’s wildcard – The Robot.
Giving away where The Robot comes from would be way too much of a spoiler, but it’s enough to say none of the Robinsons has seen anything like it before.
And neither has mainstream television.
Deadly, relentless and utterly devoted to Will, the friendship between boy and lethal weapon is destined to be the core around which much of Lost in Space is built.
Which leaves us with a beautifully crafted, big-budget, family adventure drama that just happens to be set in space … oh and with a Terminator-level killing machine as the nanny.
What’s not to love?
Lost in Space will be available on Netflix worldwide from April 13.