Still, just because a show is about a family doesn’t necessarily mean it’s family-friendly. The Bluths, Sopranos, and Starks can attest to that. One could be forgiven for assuming that Netflix’s 2018 iteration of Lost in Space would be a gritty sci-fi reboot. It certainly looked like one with a slick (and weirdly sexy) new Robot, elevated stakes, and a John Robinson (Toby Stephens) coming off a major role in Starz’ pirate murder fest Black Sails.
Now, a year removed from Lost in Space Season 1 and with the arrival of the DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital release imminent (June 4), it’s clear that that assumption was unfounded. Netflix’s Lost in Space was and is some good clean old-fashioned fun for the whole family. And you don’t have to take our word for it, just listen to mom and dad.
“I have a 12-year-old boy. This is the first thing I have done that he really can watch,” Molly Parker (who portrays Alpha Centauri mission leader and mother Maureen Robinson) told Den of Geek.
When Parker says Lost in Space is the first thing she’s done that her son can watch, she’s talking Deadwood-levels of things that her son can’t watch. After getting her start in mostly indie films, Parker broke into television as it was becoming a more serious medium with HBO’s Deadwood. She reprised her role as Alma Ellsworth for the Deadwood movie, which debuted on May 31. She filmed both Deadwood and Lost in Space simultaneously.
“I would sort of finish on a Friday in Vancouver, and get on a plane. (Deadwood) shot on the weekend, so that I could do it,” Parker said. “I was going from space suit to corsets, to space suit, to corsets. It sort of felt like time travel. Not many people in this life, get the opportunity to sort of return to a place they were 10 to 15 years ago and kind of re-inhabit what they were doing with the people they were doing it with.”
10-15 years later, Lost in Space provided Parker with an opportunity to switch things up a bit. She explained the challenges of how the show was perceived early on.
“I think the thing that was sort of difficult to explain before the show aired, was how it’s a family show,” she said. “I think that Netflix was looking for something that could occupy the space, really something that you would and could watch together.”
John Robinson actor Toby Stephen was similarly happy to be a part of something more family friendly and share a piece of his work with his children for the first time in a long time.
“I spend a lot of time away from my own family. When I was doing Black Sails, I was in Cape Town months on end filming. So I was not seeing my kids for a long stretch,” he said. “For them to actually see what I’ve done makes me joyous.”
The technology always changes throughout each version of Lost in Space. One need only look at the evolution of the Robot from stumpy-armed, glass-headed toy all the way through to sleek alien murder machine to appreciate that. And the context in which each Lost in Space version arrives in changes. In this modern edition, for instance, it’s hard not view the Robinsons’ central mission to a new star system through anything but the lens of climate change.
One thing always stays the same, however, and that’s the Robinson family itself. It turns out that introducing family dynamics is an easy way for old science fiction tropes to feel fresh.
“One of the things that amused me about the original was, that it’s taking a kind of archetypal family and putting them in this extreme situation or context and finding these similarities,” Stephens said. “They’re going through these rights of passage as children or parents and it just happens to be that they’re in outer space.
“The original was like this sort of apple pie ideal American family. The stakes were never really that high. Whereas, I think in this one it’s not that apple pie family. I don’t think we can get away with that any more. It’s a kind of war torn family, although it’s not a sort of depressing family. It’s a family trying to do the best they can, but they’re not perfect.”
Stephens also says that according to Netflix, the focus on a family-friendly sci-fi venture paid off.
“I was speaking to one of the people from Netflix and they were saying that (Lost in Space) had one of their longest completion rates,” he says. “With this it took a long time for a lot of families to watch this, because they’re watching it as a family and it’s hard to find that time where you can all sit down and watch something. But I love the fact that they were watching it that way, rather than binge watching it.”
With data like that, it’s no wonder that Lost in Space received a second season. There is no word on a release date yet, though that’s likely to come soon as the actors completed filming early in the year and both the DVD release and a book release are on the horizon. Lost in Space Season 2 promises to have the Robinsons well and truly lost in…space. At the end of the show’s first season, their Jupiter 2 ship teleported lightyears away to a new alien star system.
“I love the fact that the show is sort of expanding,” Stephens says. “There are all these mysteries unveiled by the first season. Where does the Robot come from? How many are there? What’s the whole mythology behind all of that? How are they going to get back to Alpha Centauri? Where are they? Where is this place that they now are and how different is that from our own solar system, or from anything we know about? What is in store for this family?”
Soon the Robinsons and Lost in Space alike are about to have a lot more quality family time.