"We're trillions of light-years from home!"
In "Lost in Space" (2018 version)
I've just watched the first episode, but neither this first take nor some misguided people will persuade me that there’ll be much to engage an adult. It looks to me like they passed the show through the usual J.J. Abram Makeover Machine, particularly the robot, who resembles a character from an anime inspired PS4 game. If too many of the scenes are similarly generated in the series, with a constantly floating from point to point camera and the cast digitally comped in to say a few breathy lines whenever we zoom through a window, then I’ll keep getting that feeling I get with many a Netflix original SF creation - that I need to keep my controller to hand for when these overly long and confusing cut scenes end and the Benfica vs. Porto football game starts next Sunday. Yeah, I’ve not got high hopes for it, but it’s not like the original campy nonsense was highly regarded as gritty SF as well. I think the camp/kitsch aspect is what made the original series so popular. Removing that seems like removing the entire soul of the series. It was (after the black&white first series) completely camp and completely kitsch at the time - that was the whole idea. The monster in one of the episodes was a giant carrot for goodness' sake. The mid-60s (1966 to be precise) is well documented as when the mainstream suddenly cottoned on to the idea of camp (Susan Sontag having been the first to pin down what it was in her "Notes on Camp" a couple of years before). "Batman" led the way and is (along with the increasingly outlandish "Avengers") the best and funniest example, but other shows like "Lost in Space" seized on the sudden popularity of "so bad it's good" as an excuse to not even try to be good when they could attract millions of viewers by being conspicuously terrible.
What about this 2018 foray? All that future technology and they're still lost? Obviously didn't get 'lifetime maps'. Fortunately Zuckerberg knows where they are... This show doesn't look like it's going to contribute anything new - it's just trading on the name of the original while throwing out everything that was unique and great about it. The original was made at roughly the same time as Star Trek and could certainly have looked more convincing / high tech than it did - there was a conscious decision to give it a B-movie aesthetic (with most of the weekly monsters being actors in funny outfits) and the robot may look cheaply made but it was actually beautiful (particularly in the black and white seasons), not something that can be said of the new 'robot'. And the original had a member of the Robinson family who had been a member of the von Trapp family in the Sound of Music for crissake!! I know which of the two shows people will be watching on You Tube or its equivalent in thirty years time (clue: not the re-boot).
Bottom-line: This is not SF!! It's "Neighbours in Space". Do the robots have children together ? Do they survive on minimum wage working as cleaners? Rather a robot than another Tom Cruise clone...I reckon we won't properly explore space until we've really fucked up this planet and then we (as in wealthy people) need to escape in a spaceship leaving a sweet robot to clean up the planet of course who listens to old Louis Armstrong songs and falls in love with another robot. That's my original idea. Nobody better steal it.
Bottom-line II: In the trailer the mother, presumably a scientist, yells, "We're trillions of light-years from home!" WTF?? The entire visible universe has a diameter of roughly 34 billion (with a "b") light-years. If one could, somehow, travel trillions of light-years from Earth one would be in an alternate universe, one in which the laws of physics as we know them would most likely not apply (being outside the smoothing effect of the inflationary period which gave us uniform physics). How can I watch a show which would make such an egregious error? And right after Hawking died! Insult to injury. But someone from the audience reading this post exclaims: "It's okay Manuel; in the next episode it's revealed that the mother in fact suffers from a speech impediment which causes her to substitute a 't' for a 'b' ". The show is set very far in the future. Presumably the set of accepted 'scientific facts' at that time will be at least as widely divergent from the current set of accepted scientific facts as the current set is from the set in existence about 200 years ago. But if you can't agree with this, then fuck it: it's really just a stupid TV programme meant to entertain some people. Don't get too hung up on trainspotter ephemera." Of course this person from the audience said "scientific facts," which is much broader than physics. I used to have a biology textbook from the early 20th century. It was full of interesting "facts" like masturbation being a cause of insanity. One can feel superior reading things like that, but that book made me think about how people hundreds of years from now might read science textbooks from the early 21st century and shake their heads and laugh...Oh well...
Bottom-line III: "Lost in Space 2018" seems a bit shopworn. If you're a seasoned SF reader, do not watch this crap. I trained for films like these by watching Star Trek for the last 30 years. There isn't a SF film out there that can out-technobabble Trek. In shows like "Lost in Space" it seems like there will always be a 'singularity' or a tachyon field to be face every second episode, but at least everything isn't resolved in a 'climax' with a sonic sodding screwdriver...Oh no, they do it much more realistically by "reversing the polarity of the warp coils" and if that fails chuck "dilithium" crystals at the problem...Why do I keep on watching crap like this??? I know. Because deep down I want to believe these new SF TV Shows are bringing something new to the table...no such luck!
SF = Speculative Fiction.