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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lost in Space is a reboot of the classic 1960s series about a family that crash-lands on an alien planet. Danger is frequent and soapy (à la an action movie): Members of the Robinson family are forever falling into holes, getting stuck in ice, wandering off-course, and being attacked by hostile creatures. They're always saved by some combination of science savvy and good luck, but young or sensitive viewers could be frightened by the scary music, special effects, and kids in danger. Language is infrequent but includes "damn" and "bitching." Young characters are often called on to do big jobs and commonly save the day with their knowledge and quick thinking. Judy in particular has been trained as a medical expert and can get the family out of terrible scrapes. A strong family unit is at the center of the action, and competent parents love and trust their children and expect the best out of them -- and get it. Courage and teamwork are clear themes.
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What's the story?
Based on the TV series of the same name that ran for three seasons in the 1960s, LOST IN SPACE is set in a future reality when space colonization has begun, and the Robinson family is among those selected to leave Earth and make a new home on a faraway planet. But when John (Toby Stephens), Maureen (Molly Parker), and their children -- Judy (Taylor Russell), Penny (Mina Sundwall), and Will (Max Jenkins) -- run into some problems in transit and wind up crashing on a threatening new planet, it takes everything they have to keep safe. Meanwhile, stranded with the Robinsons are the duplicitous Dr. Smith (Parker Posey) and the charming Don West (Ignacio Serricchio), both of whom have agendas of their own -- which may or may not conflict with those of the Robinsons. Warning, Will Robinson: Everything is not as it seems in your strange new home.
Is it any good?
Zippy, zesty, and full of classic cliffhanger-style suspense, this remake of the 1960s series of the same name is much better than it has to be. One of the things this series gets right (and the original never did) is the sheer grandeur of space travel. Will, newly crash-landed on a mysterious planet, perches atop an icy hill and looks at the enormous snowy mountains that surround him, letting out one breathy "Wow." And we feel it too: the horror of being lost in a strange place, the thrill of leaving everything safe and secure to explore new frontiers. These characters feel, act, and sound like actual people, which makes watching them struggle through otherworldly trials quite the thrill.
The new Lost in Space has also made a number of pivotal character shifts that are an improvement on both the original and the 1998 movie remake of it: Penny and Judy are younger, and John and Maureen are given meaty backstories of their own instead of being asked to play heroic stereotypes, and Parker Posey makes a terrific gender-flipped Dr. Smith (though fans of the original may miss Jonathan Harris' camp-classic delivery of his trademark tongue-twisting insults). There's an awful lot of sci-fi clichés -- if you were wondering if they might try something to get out of danger that's crazy but just might work, you would be correct -- but this remake is lots of fun, and a great whole-family viewing choice for sci-fi fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about remakes and nostalgia. Why make a new show that essentially reproduces a TV show that was popular when many of today's parents were kids? Do you think it's harder or easier than creating new characters, new themes, new stories? Is it safer to remake a once popular movie or TV series?
What is science fiction? Does it invariably involve space travel? When did the genre arise, and what about that particular era made writers want to speculate on the future and what might happen? Is this a futuristic series? Which elements of it seem futuristic and which seem in line with present capabilities?
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