Why 'Lost in Space' is arguably the most watchable sci-fi family drama

Season 3 of the Netflix show comes out on December 1

The final season of 'Lost in Space' will be released on Netflix on December 1. Photo: Netflix

Netflix’s reimagining of Lost In Space, the legendary 1960s series that followed the Robinson family’s intergalactic adventures as space colonists, took a little while to finds its feet.

In its solid first season, the Robinson parents and their three children left Earth after it was destroyed by what audiences assumed to be an asteroid, but later turned out to be aliens. After crash-landing on a distant planet, and being separated from the other colonists, they encountered a shape-shifting robot, who developed a bond with the youngest member of the family, Will.

'Lost in Space'

Creators: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Irwin Allen

Stars: Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Maxwell Jenkins

Rating: 4/5

The series really hit its stride with its captivating second season, though, which combined epic and gorgeous special effects with a heartfelt and enthralling storyline. Once again it revolves around the Robinsons trying to reconnect with the other colonists on the mother ship The Resolute. By the end of the series they’ve done just that, but when they aliens that destroyed Earth attack the ship, the Robinsons decide that their only chance of survival is to split up.

After sending their children Judy (Taylor Russell), Penny (Mina Sundwall) and Will (Maxwell Jenkins) through a space rift to an unknown star system, parents Maureen (Molly Parker) and John (Toby Stephens) were left to fight a robot army.

Set a full year after the finale, season three starts with Judy, Penny, Will and their Robot leading the other 94 young space colonists who escaped with them on a mysterious new planet. At the same time, in a completely different galaxy, John and Maureen are still trying to figure out how to find their children, while also fending off the robots that are trying to kill them.

The opening episode of the show’s final season includes everything that has made Lost In Space such an enjoyable watch for the entire family. After smartly and succinctly getting audiences up to date with the characters in a precise yet empathetic way, Three Little Birds then manages to mix action-packed and tense set-pieces with moments of tender and affecting characterisation.

Once again, Lost In Space manages to tow the line between being moody and mysterious enough to keep adults hooked. But not too dark and scary that children of a certain age will be terrified. This was a skill that it perfected in its second season, and is the reason why the show is arguably the most watchable sci-fi family drama available on streaming platforms.

Key to Lost In Space’s success has been the excellent casting of the three Robinson children, whose contagious excitement and fear acts as a conduit to viewers of all ages.

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The scope and majesty of its visuals, the swiftness of its plotting, and the power of its performances means that there’s always something to be impressed by

Russell in particular has grown into a commanding screen presence. This time around, she expertly handles the additional responsibility that Judy has to contend with, coming across as intelligent and fearless without disregarding her vulnerability. There’s also an added emotional complexity to Judy’s journey this season that Russell incorporates seamlessly.

The cast of 'Lost in Space'. Photo: Netflix

Showrunner Zack Estrin and writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless do a superb job of mixing the parallel plots of the Robinson children and their parents. One helps up the ante of the other, while, over the course of its opening four episodes, directors Frederick EO Toye, Kevin Rodney Sullivan, Sarah Boyd, and Julian Holmes make sure that each different world has a unique look and feel.

It’s not all perfect. Like most other Netflix series, each episode feels at least five minutes too long, while Parker Posey’s performance as June Harris never manages to be as deliciously wicked as you hope. Plus, while it’s undoubtedly entertaining, since this marks Lost In Space’s final season, you can’t help but long for a little more substance, too.

The scope and majesty of its visuals, the swiftness of its plotting and the power of its performances means there’s always something to be impressed by. But, ultimately, Lost In Space is one of those shows that you put on and enjoy, only to then quickly forget about it.

It rightfully deserves to be celebrated for being such a well-written and executed show. But, with a little more originality and depth, it might actually have eclipsed the reputation of its predecessor.

All 10 episodes of Lost In Space’s third and final season will be available on Netflix on Wednesday, December 1

Updated: November 27th 2021, 3:45 AM
'Lost in Space'

Creators: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Irwin Allen

Stars: Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Maxwell Jenkins

Rating: 4/5