Lost In Space

Discussion in 'Film & Television' started by Vaporo, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. Vaporo

    Vaporo Mystagogue

    267
    129
    43
    All right. When I was about ten years old I borrowed a complete DVD set of the original Lost in Space series from the library and ended up watching most of them before I took it back. So, naturally I was excited to see a remake coming out on Netflix that wasn't a bad movie from the 90s.

    So, I watched the whole thing, and generally I thought that it was all right. Nothing amazing, but enjoyable and definitely worth your time. For the most part. All of the main characters had fine story arcs, the robot was well-designed and well-written, and the plot was generally interesting. For the most part.

    The starts out roughly the same as the original. The Robinsons are a family sent into space as part of a colonization effort. However, things go wrong and they crash on an alien planet where most of the story takes place. In this version, though, they are crashed along with several dozen other colonists who they have to coordinate with to get off the planet.

    The Robinsons had a good family dynamic going. The plot with the mother and father getting back together was done well enough. Penny's perpetual sarcasm is just enough to be enjoyable but not grating. Will and the robot are always excellent. Judy is... just kind of there actually. She's not a bad or uninteresting character, just not a huge focal point most of the time. Except in the first three episodes, but I'll get to that later. Don West is always fun. Yeah, no real complaints on the main character front. There's one in particular that I want to talk about, though.

    A lot of people don't seem to like "Dr. Smith" in this version, but I thought she was a fine character. Maybe not GREAT, but definitely well-written and functional in the context of the show. She's a bit one-dimensional, but you what? I'm ok with that. In fact, you know what? I've had it up to about here (raises hand to about neck-level) with these boringly three-dimensional sympathetic antagonists that all of these young whippersnappers like so much nowadays. I like to see a good old-fashioned scheming, mustache-twirling, dastardly villain from time to time.

    Sometimes other characters do seem to believe her a bit too much (SHE LITERALLY LEFT YOU TO DIE IN A STORM! YOU SHOULD BE SHOUTING TO ALL WHO CAN HEAR THAT SHE BE LOCKED UP!) and after a while you want to slap anyone who even thinks about listening to her, but that's kind of what Dr. Smith was in the original show. An antagonist who seeds doubt in the minds of everyone around him for his own benefit to the point where you wonder why they don't straight up cut his/her tongue out.

    Some people also seem to have issues with the fact that she's a woman in this version, but I didn't mind at all. In fact, I think I prefer it. For some reason have a really hard time envisioning this incarnation of Dr. Smith as a man.

    The series has some obvious problems, though. The science is atrociously bad, yes, but I've also learned that if I'm going to enjoy movies and TV then I'm going to have to ignore science. The plot stumbles at times with contrivances and conveniences, the dialogue can be a bit forced, you have to buy several new screens because of how often you've tried to punch Dr. Smith, but that's not the issue here. The real problem is the first three episodes.

    Up until this point, I've really been talking more about the last seven episodes of the series. The first three, though... I have no idea what happened there. The second and third episode are mediocre at best, and the first episode is just kinda bad.

    The writing here is totally ham-handed. The first scene sees Judy (one of the daughters in the Robinson family) refusing to hold her father's hand, even though it's purely for safety and they are in clear danger. That is textbook "How not to do character introduction." It seems like it's meant to introduce us to the fact that John (the father) is not popular with his children, particularly Judy. Maybe I'm forgetting some parts, but while John has made some mistakes as a father, in the rest of the show he doesn't seem to have done quite enough to warrant such blatant distaste in the first scene, and I can't remember him doing anything at all that would make Judy in particular mad at him.

    I could go through every instance of forced character introductions and contrived scenarios (You are literally wearing spacesuits, have a survival tent and thick winter jackets, and are sheltered from the wind. You're telling me that you really need an extra heater to survive the night?) but that would take ages. Just suffice it to say that it's got some bad writing. Most of the bad science is also in the first episode. I don't care what is in that water, it cannot freeze that fast.

    The second and third episode have a lot of the same problems as the first, but watered down enough to be a bit more bearable. Overall, the first three episodes just seem kind of slapped together.

    Luckily, there was just enough decent stuff intermixed with the bad (along with a bit of nostalgia factor) to keep me going until the fourth episode, and I'm glad I did, because the series does seriously improve.

    It seems to me like they originally wrote this series as seven or eight episodes, but then someone came downstairs at the last minute and said "Hey! We want this to be at least ten episodes. Get on it." Then, running low on time and wanting to preserve as much of their tightly-written script as possible, the writers desperately rewrote the first episode into three parts. There are some bits in the first three episodes that are legitimately good. The scenes with Don West and Dr. Smith aren't bad, and spite of how campy they could have ended up Will and the robot are always well done. I suspect that these better scenes may be holdovers from the original script before the first three episodes were rewritten, but that's just speculation.

    Overall, I'd say give the show a shot. It isn't a masterpiece, but it's definitely worth watching. The user reviews on Netflix are extremely divided. Most people either seem to love it or hate it. But, you'll notice that the ones who say they hated it usually say that they stopped after the first or second episode. The ones who made it further usually say that they enjoyed it. So, if you do watch it, I'd suggest at least trying to make it to the fourth episode.

    Anyways, now to strap myself to a chair with some popcorn and wait for Stranger Things part 3.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
    abydos6 likes this.
  2. pmmg

    pmmg Dark Lord

    1,111
    541
    113
    I don't know, I am about 30 minutes in, and I don't think I am going to finish it.
     
  3. Vaporo

    Vaporo Mystagogue

    267
    129
    43
    Understandable. That first episode is pretty bad.
     
  4. pmmg

    pmmg Dark Lord

    1,111
    541
    113
    Okay , I did stick with it through the first episode. I think I would need some enthusiastic friends to convince me its worth sticking with to the end, but it does not sound like it. I would call BS on most of this episode, but...I am not feeling hooked. I wish I did, cause I love space. I would have a long laundry list of the things that threw me in this, and I am not sure its worth laying it all out. I am not sure if I will continue, I think I have to run out of Netflix and come back to it.
     
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,169
    2,750
    313
    I also thought the first episode was a little slow - although I'm not one to nitpick the science - but it picks up by about the third episode when they begin to deal with the other Jupiter pods that crashed on the planet.
     
    abydos6 likes this.
  6. pmmg

    pmmg Dark Lord

    1,111
    541
    113
    Well, in fairness, it took me about a season to get hooked into Farscape, and the pilot for BSG was really slow as well. but the problems I am seeing, I don't think they will seek to fix. Adding other interesting tidbits cannot help that I am dubious of the whole set of characters.
     
    abydos6 likes this.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    10,956
    3,377
    413
    I found the season as a whole interesting enough to watch it. I thought the Dr. Smith story line was the worst writing in the show and made no sense (and I don't mind Dr. Smith being a woman; further, I think Parker Posey is great, and I like her in the role). Even given the type of character Smith is supposed to be, almost nothing she does makes any sense, even from the standpoint of pure self-interest.

    Apart from that, I thought it was fun. The first episode is the weakest, which really isn't how you want things to be when you're trying to get people to watch a show.
     
    abydos6 likes this.
  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,169
    2,750
    313
    As I understood it, she was afraid to go back to the ship, and most of what she did made sense to me with that in mind.

    For example, she manipulates the other characters into turning against the robot so she can have it to herself.

    The character isn't perfect, though. I did have some trouble at points where characters gave her too much slack. And I also thought they could've found a way for her to voice her real self - she told so many lies that her actual intentions got a little lost at times.
     
  9. pmmg

    pmmg Dark Lord

    1,111
    541
    113
    You all are going to make me have to watch it to see if agree, but I suspect, it is not going to recover for me. I think I am already put off by the relationships and egalitarian nature of the family. Its almost like, what if all the kids were Westley Crusher? And already I am asking questions, like how is it you are melting the ice with magnesium and not also burning her fingers off, and if it is really so cold that the water is instantly freezing, why are they not apparently all that cold? But....Well see.
     
  10. abydos6

    abydos6 Apprentice

    20
    4
    3
    I really enjoyed it, loved the ending...can't wait for more.
     
  11. pmmg

    pmmg Dark Lord

    1,111
    541
    113
    Interesting, cause not finding many who would say that. What did you enjoy about it?

    BTW, I did watch to the end. Sometimes you gotta do things to be part of the conversation ;)
     
    abydos6 likes this.
  12. Vaporo

    Vaporo Mystagogue

    267
    129
    43
    Mmmh. So you DID finish it. What are your thoughts now?
     
    abydos6 likes this.
  13. abydos6

    abydos6 Apprentice

    20
    4
    3
    Well, I loved the robot being Alien and leaving the egg behind, I loved the mother who in my mind has come a very long way as a character since the original series, I did like judy and her phobia, I loved that will isn't a know it all, loved the interactions between all survivors, annnddd that doc smith is a woman.
    There is a lot wrong I suppose with the science, but then I loved the original series, liked the movie and love Doctor Who, so suspending belief is easy for me lol.
     
  14. pmmg

    pmmg Dark Lord

    1,111
    541
    113
    Ah...I think the word I would use would be impolite...

    I fear I have forgotten a bit of it now. But, I never bought the characters of the family. The 18yr old being a doctor was hard to accept. I liked the character of Penny the best because she seems the most like a real person in it. I enjoyed the bit where she had a perfect first kiss encounter all planned out, but the waterfall was dry, and that so ruined her desire for the right setting that it did not happen.

    But honestly, I think this thing failed for me most with the Father character (who was BTW, supposed to be a navy SEAL). The fact he never took charge and really handled anything to me was...well, a guy like that does not become a navy SEAL.

    I thought the robot would generate a lot more questions that no one seemed to ask, such as, is this the only robot? is this the same robot as the one that attacked us? Can we trust a robot that none of us can communicate with?

    I think also, this seemed to step on its own toes a lot. In its effort to always have something happen, one disaster after another, and often overlapping each other, it just kind got tiresome and kept the story away from having the kinds of moments that would allow them to flesh out the characters.

    I wanted to say BS to a lot of it. The Black Hole...I did not really follow that. I think the idea was the planet was in orbit around the black hole, it would get all ripped apart as it got closer, but on its journey away and back around the sun the planet would remake itself? I think that is what they were saying....Um...no. If the black hole is close enough to orbit and rip up the planet, the planet is toast. So also would be the other giant planets in the sky.

    I think the whole series can be summed with this picture.

    [​IMG]

    To me, this picture is missing the whole point of Lost in Space. On a strange planet, with the 'Sense of Wunder' at stake, they give me this scene with the boy finding an very unlikely natural formation, and rather than put the thing in a frame that lets me look at it and go 'Wow, this is kind of neat', they frame it so the top is cut off. They missed it. IMO, the whole show missed it.

    I need to feel the sense of wunder about a strange planet that they are lost on. Not an endless beat of one disaster over top of another. Just my two cents....

    But you know, I watch a lot of stuff and a lot of it is bad. I just file it away. I am not sure if I will come back for another season, I really don't buy the characters, but if people are talking about it, I might.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
    Vaporo likes this.
  15. abydos6

    abydos6 Apprentice

    20
    4
    3
    Lol, have you ever watched the first season of next gen, and sg1? Pretty awful in every way. They got better, maybe this will as well.
     
  16. pmmg

    pmmg Dark Lord

    1,111
    541
    113
    Next Gen I enjoyed. I don't remember their first season being particularly bad. It is just kind of Star Trekkie... I do recall that I did not think William Frakes was a good actor. I missed Star Gate.

    One show I really enjoyed, but took me a long time to get hooked, was Farscape. Puppets and bad effects, I was like....am I really gonna stick with this? But actually, I ended up liking the obvious puppet slug character the best. I was sad when it ended. I want more. It happens.
     
  17. SoulThief

    SoulThief Apprentice

    23
    9
    3
    I really should not say anything, but here goes...

    I am 54. As a child I used to literally run home from school just to watch Lost in Space on our rented black and white television (I had 30 minutes to get home). At the time I was one of only two children in my school from a broken home and so I used to love seeing the respectable, brave and wise John Robinson lead his family through the dangers of other worlds. Maureen was smart and brave too. The kids - well, they were kids and made mistakes and hopefully grew from them. I envied the strong family dynamic that could be inclusive of even a rogue like Smith..Sure, it was camp (to use the jargon of the times) but so were a lot of shows of the time (think Batman).

    OK - now for the modern series. Surprisingly I loved it for all the reasons others have already stated. However I do struggle to find a decent male role model in the show. Hence, I deplore that:
    • Will has been made into a dummy that could not pass the same tests that everyone else in his family could pass
    • John Robinson has lost his doctorate and been turned into an action man clone who is incapable of winning the respect of his family
    • Don West is a smuggler with questionable morals
    • Every other male is selfish or self-absorbed
    I don't have a problem with Maureen being a brilliant engineer, or Judy a doctor etc, but why does every male need to be so disappointing? The man I am, who was once a sad little boy looking for decent male role models on television, just struggles with this.

    Greg
     
Loading...

Share This Page