You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Lost in Space’ on Netflix

Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Parker Posey, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, Max Jenkins, Ignacio Serricchio.

A better title for “Lost in Space” would be “Mired in Mediocrity.”

Updating the 1960s series for the Netflix age was a good idea, but the execution is lacking in this new chronicle of the Robinson family’s spacefaring adventures. Once the drama gets past its first three episodes — which take too long to lay out a very simple series of premises — much of the action plays out, inevitably, in a forest outside Vancouver. Lots of sci-fi shows have similarly familiar and utilitarian settings, and far less money than this 10-episode drama, so they focus on creating meaty, surprising relationships and supplying vivid adventures.

Lost in Space” has trouble doing those kinds of things on a consistent basis, nor does it successfully dabble in the light comedy of the original. As was the case with 2011’s “Terra Nova,” a very similar sci-fi chronicle set in a strange new world, those behind this version of “Lost in Space” seem to think that a genre show aimed at families must be as anodyne and blandly aspirational as possible. By contrast, “Doctor Who,” which debuted not long before the original “Lost in Space,” has run for more than five decades by assuming that its audience of children and adults will settle for nothing less than brisk plotting, heartbreaking moral dilemmas, very scary scenarios and complex characters whose cleverness and versatility is rarely in question.

“Lost in Space,” on the other hand, has trouble building interest in its characters or their challenges, in part because many members of the Robinson family are predictable, annoying or both. Set 30 years in the future, the Robinsons join a group of colonizers heading for new homes far from Earth, but things go awry very early in the pilot, and everyone is forced to improvise on a planet the settlers never expected to land on.

Molly Parker brings her usual verve, skill and charisma to the role of matriarch Maureen Robinson, and Parker Posey does what she can with the show’s underwritten and one-dimensional Dr. Smith. Many other key performances on the show are either underwhelming or poorly served with treacly, contrived dialogue. Posey and Parker, by far the most interesting cast members, are rarely served well by the writing.

The array of characters begins to expand beyond the Robinson clan fairly early on, but, like the sneaky Dr. Smith, Don West starts out as a relatively irritating presence and doesn’t progress much from there. Attempts to delve into problems in the marriage between Maureen and John Robinson sputter, given that John is a standard issue TV father with nothing unique to recommend him.

After five episodes of frequently slack pacing, meandering character development and derivative adventures, the only truly intriguing character around is the Robot, who, unlike a number of other “Lost in Space” characters, rarely does anything dumb. He also isn’t saddled with any painful exposition; his only line is the iconic, “Danger, Will Robinson!” The design of the very tall robot gives him a somewhat fearsome, spiky body, but the intimidation factor is offset by the Robot’s face, which looks a little like a lit-up snow globe that’s been shaken vigorously. Elements of imagination and mystery are locked inside the Robot — whose past and agenda remain unknown — and it’s those qualities that the rest of the show could use more of.

Instead, viewers are often subjected to characters making rash or stupid decisions, mainly because the plot requires them to do so. This undercuts one of the show’s core ideas, which is that the Robinsons, whatever their personal flaws, are all brave, savvy and intelligent. The adults, teen daughters and young Will do occasionally come up with smart schemes or face things that are genuinely terrifying. But one has to slog through a lot of clunky, simplistic storytelling to get to those moments. The earnestness of “Lost in Space” is admirable, but the fact that it feels like a mish-mash of a dozen other shows is consistently frustrating.

It’s true that many sci-fi series, including various incarnations of “Star Trek,” have had rocky first seasons and underwhelming characters at the outset. But the space programs that eventually earned their places in the TV pantheon offered something compelling early on — wit, winning romances, thoughtful moral dilemmas, visual daring, etc. Perhaps by the end of their first season of adventures on a distant planet, the Robinsons and their fellow survivors will have built lives, homes and relationships worth latching on to. But with so many of TV classics available now for streaming, it’s easy to wonder how many viewers will stick around to see what fates await the explorers at the end of these 10 installments.

TV Review: 'Lost in Space' on Netflix

Drama; 10 episodes (5 reviewed); Netflix, Fri. April 13. 60 min.


Executive producers, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Zack Estrin, Kevin Burns, Jon Jashni, Neil Marshall, Marc Helwig.

Cast: Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Parker Posey, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, Max Jenkins, Ignacio Serricchio.

More TV

  • "Raven's Home" Executive Producer, Eunetta Boone.

    Eunetta Boone, Showrunner and Creator of 'One on One,' Dies at 63

    Writer-producer Eunetta Boone, creator of the UPN comedy “One on One” and showrunner of Disney Channel’s “Raven’s Home,” died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 63. Boone was found dead at her home of an apparent heart attack. Boone had most recently worked as showrunner on the third season of the Disney [...]

  • Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Series

    Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Starring Dominic West Ahead of Series Mania

    The BBC and Masterpiece adaptation of “Les Miserables” will play on a numerous international channels after a raft of deals were sealed for the series, which features Dominic West, David Oyelowo, and Lily Collins. Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic has been acquired by broadcasters in Scandinavia and southern Europe, and by several buyers [...]

  • Kevin Hart

    TV News Roundup: Kevin Hart Netflix Comedy Special Drops First Trailer

    In today’s roundup, Netflix releases the official trailer for the comedy special “Kevin Hart: Irresponsible” and Josh Charles joins Showtime’s Roger Ailes series “The Loudest Voice.” DATES Season two of “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner, will premiere on Paramount Network on June 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The sophomore season will continue the story of rancher John Dutton [...]

  • adidas game of thrones

    5 New 'Game of Thrones' Collaborations Coming in Time for the Final Season

    Some of the biggest lifestyle brands in the world are jumping on the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon this spring, hoping to capitalize on the fandom and popularity of the HBO hit, as it enters its eighth and final season. From sneakers to spirits, these officially-licensed collaborations extend the characters and colors of the show beyond [...]

  • Nicole Richie

    Nicole Richie Joins Fox Comedy Pilot 'Richard Lovely'

    Nicole Richie has been cast in a series regular role in the Fox single-cam comedy pilot “Richard Lovely.” The project follows Richard Lovely (Thomas Lennon), the disgruntled author of the best-selling children’s book series, “Mr. Mouse.” He doesn’t hate children, but rather just everything about them. After a publicity fiasco involving an unexpectedly savvy 9-year-old [...]

  • Gabrielle Union Marketing Summit

    Gabrielle Union on Building a Brand as a ‘40-Year-Old Black Woman From Nebraska’

    When New York & Company approached Gabrielle Union to be their new brand ambassador and the face of her own clothing line, the actress reacted with “disbelief.” “We are not supposed to be getting those offers, I’m not supposed to be having a career resurgence, my value isn’t supposed to be this high,” Union explained [...]

  • Lachlan Murdoch

    New Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch Announces All Employees to Receive Stock in Company

    The new standalone entity Fox Corp. held a town hall on Thursday, just over a day after the official closing of the 21st Century Fox-Disney merger. Fox Corp. chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch led the meeting, at which sources say he announced that all employees would receive stock in the new company. The amount of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content