Guest contributor Debra Palermo asks you to consider Netflix’s Lost In Space
When I was a kid watching Lost In Space (The original series created by Irwin Allen and aired from 1965-1968), I remember being fascinated, scared and excited. Now when I look back on its campiness, colorlessness and gender discrimination, I can’t help but laugh and cringe all at the same time.
Cut to 2018 when Netflix makes everything better. Not only is this remake vibrant in color with its stunning visuals and special effects but, more importantly, it’s vibrant in color with its all-inclusive and diverse cast.
Original characters like Judy Robinson and Don West are played by Taylor Russell and Ignacio Serricchio and there are a plethora of new characters like Victor Dhar and Hiroki Watanabe played by Raza Jaffrey and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.
The plot is the same. The Robinson family has been chosen to start a new life in a space colony. But, when their ship gets thrown off course, they crash land on a frightening alien planet and find themselves fighting to survive. Every day is a struggle as they try to come up with an escape plan.
The best thing about this reboot is the promotion of gender equality and role reversal. It’s not the Patriarch, Don Robinson (Toby Stephens from Black Sails) who is the hero of the family, it’s the Matriarch.
Molly Parker (House of Cards and Deadwood) plays Maureen Robinson, an aerospace engineer, who leads, commands and is the family’s greatest protector. Maureen and her awe-inspiring Doctor daughter Judy together lead this show as females.
Speaking of females, who could fill one of TV’s most iconic supporting roles? A role that requires an actor to be evil and sympathetic at the same time? A role that made Jonathan Harris (original) a household name. Who could do that? Parker Posey does that. If you want a successful example of gender role reversal in casting, then this is it.
I worked in casting for 8 years in the early ‘90s and I saw some interesting choices but I’ve never seen a gender role reversal like this one. Thank you to the Producers, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless for thinking outside the casting box and choosing a female to play the part of the maniacal “Dr. Smith”. It was pure genius and hopefully, it will pay off when the 2018 Emmy nominations are announced. Parker Posey deserves a nomination and is the reason I started watching this reboot in the first place. Her performance as the classic character can only be described in one word: Perfection.
The rest of the actors in the Robinson family are phenomenal. Especially the lovable Maxwell Jenkins. He plays Will Robinson. At first I thought, “Oh no, not another cutesy child actor in a cheesy kid role.” Thankfully, I was pleasantly mistaken. There were no goofy facial expressions or cheesy lines like “Holy Cow!” in the original. It was just Maxwell Jenkins being his subtle natural self, delivering his lines with ease and grace and shining like the young star that he is.
I guess you can’t write about Lost In Space without mentioning the “Robot”. Brian Steele, who is 6ft 7in tall in real life was cast as the new and improved main character. Because of his height, Brian has had a storied Hollywood career playing monsters and creatures for over 20 years. (Harry and the Hendersons, Hellboy, Underworld). I read that the writers wanted the 2018 robot to look more like E.T. than its vintage predecessor. I like the changes to his look but I’m glad they kept the classic phrase, “Danger, Will Robinson!”. Oh and word around social media is that viewers think the new Robot has a nice butt and is super hot. Even Netflix tweeted out, “Y’all need Jesus”. I thought that was hilarious.
I forgot to say, I’m not a huge sci-fi fan but I am a huge TV fan. Especially of the classics. So, if this wasn’t a remake of the sixties iconic show and it didn’t have the cast that it does, I probably would have skipped it. I’m glad I didn’t because I was completely entertained for all 10 episodes. Not only is it visually beautiful and very suspenseful but the message of gender equality and female empowerment is incredibly uplifting.
I was so happy when Netflix announced its renewal on May 14th because that season 1 finale (cliffhanger) was awesome and you’ll know what I mean if you’re a fan of the original…
So, consider Netflix’s Lost In Space in your Emmy votes.