Review: Lost in Space

The sci-fi series about a family stranded on an alien planet is released DVD and Blu-Ray box set

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Forget the disastrous Stephen Hopkins 1998 movie, starring William Hurt, Mimi Rogers and an alien scrotum with suction cups for fingers, THIS is the cheesy 60s TV sci-fi big-budget remake you’ve been waiting for. Possibly.

Originally airing in America between 1965 and 1968, Lost in Space was conceived by producer Irwin Allen (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants) before he leapt to those classic disaster movies of the 1970s such as Towering Inferno. Lost in Space was a loose amalgam of the 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss, and the Gold Key comic book series Space Family Robinson, and centred on the misadventures of the titular clan (and associates) as they attempted to locate and colonise a new planet.

The first 10-episode season of this reimagining is a classy-looking beast with some nifty tricks and twists up its expensive Netflix-financed sleeve. Like the original, the story revolves around the Robinson family, who become marooned on a distant planet along with a number of other characters, chief among them the nefarious Dr Smith and of course the famous, and now massively redesigned (not to my mind successfully) robot. “Danger, Will Robinson.” Indeed!

The show stars Molly Parker, Toby Stephens and Parker Poser as the cast-adrift adults, but it’s the younger Robinsons (played by Mina Sundwall, Taylor Russell and Maxwell Jenkins) who actually navigate the better character arcs and develop, as the season progresses, from precocious child performers to captivating and versatile actors.

The episode mood arc seems to follow the now tried and tested Netflix formula with a cinematic, exciting start (episodes one and two, well directed by occasional Game of Thrones and Westworld helmer Neil Marshall), through intriguing (episodes three and four) and naggingly meh (five and six) to then rally round for a rousing and pulse-pounding crescendo.

The season one Blu-Ray set comes with a smattering of obligatory extras tucked away on disc three. There’s a light dusting of deleted scenes, all eminently forgettable and entirely deserving of being deleted. There’s an enjoyable (though needlessly colourised), previously unaired pilot episode for the original 1960s show that’s a cute and kitschy delight (not available on the DVD boxset). There’s a naff Designing The Robot featurette barely detailing the evolution of the alien warrior, a damp-squib sizzle reel, and two mini-fluff pieces featuring Bill Mumy, the original Will Robinson: one is a reasonably interesting look at the similarities and differences between the old and new show, and the other is a meander around the set of the Jupiter 2. None of which help if you want to learn more about the show, its creators, its influences or its imitators. A documentary about original creator Irwin Allen himself would have been more welcome.

I actually rather enjoyed this series, despite its mid-season lull and my periodic smirks about its family moralising. It’s a slightly indecisive show, at times juvenile and jaunty, then dark, unsettling and introspective, but maybe that’s all of us sometimes. With season two on the way, this is definitely worth a watch, but the boxset itself is only for those with money to burn and if you’re a sucker for collecting sci-fi adventure TV.

Lost in Space season one is available now on DVD and Blu-ray

Competition – win a Lost in Space boxset

To be in with a chance of winning either the DVD or Blu-Ray boxset of Lost in Space, email your answer to the following question, along with your choice of either DVD or Blu-Ray format and your address, to christian@bigissuenorth.co.uk, no later than 29 July.

 Dr Smith, whose self-interested actions endanger the Robinsons at every turn, was originally played by Jonathan Harris in the 1960s version of the show. But who plays the character now?

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