Review: Lost in Space

I didn’t watch the original Lost in Space TV series, but I did watch the movie that came out a few years ago, and I remember liking it enough. It was a little space adventure movie with some interesting twists and turns in it. I don’t know how much it stuck with the original tv series, but the movie was okay.

So this week we watched the new series on Netflix. Same family; mom, dad and three kids. Same premise of being lost at space. There’s a robot that says “Danger, Will Robinson,” some aliens, and some danger for the family to get out of. But all the details are brand new.

First I’ll give you my over all reaction, no spoilers.

I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it at all, but I can’t say that I liked it. There were some good scenes.  loved the robot. Beautiful design, nice practical effects mixed in with some CGI (yes, that’s a guy in a suit, that’s why the neck is weird.) The locations (mostly CGI) are beautiful, with wonderful alien atmosphere to them. Each of the main Robinson family, and a couple of the other colonists, have a story arch with some character growth. Some were more profound than others, but at least each of them grew as people.

The science was bad, even for a tv series. I can overlook this most of the time, it is a TV series, after all, but some of the science was really bad. Everything was done for dramatic effect; what can go wrong here? Oh this! And it get’s thrown at the characters for them to survive, even if it doesn’t really make sense. Most of the situations they found themselves in would have been solved early on if people had just been honest with each other. That fact alone was enough to make this series feel like a teen drama (like Pretty Little Liars) which only has tension because of all the secrets and lies the characters have.

And for the biggest problem I had with the entire series; for a family of geniuses they sure do some stupid things. While the youngest has a reason since he has had an overly protective mother since birth, the rest of them, especially the mother, have fewer reasons for their bad actions. This disappointed me because I have come to really love Netflix original content, and this show felt like it fell short of the mark. The writing just wasn’t as good.

On the plus side they did show the problem with the “strong, independent, woman” trope. She kept pushing aside her husband, ignoring his advise (a trained Naval seal who had been in many dangerous places) and undermining him to his children. It wasn’t long before one of the children pointed this out, and she started trying to work with him instead of proving she didn’t need him. When there are difficult situations like war, natural disasters, or being lost in the middle of no where, it takes a team effort to get through things. I thought that part was rather nice. Until she started working with him I kind of hated her as a character.

Overall if you go in not expecting much more than a drama in space then you’ll be fine. But it isn’t hard science, and it isn’t a comedy (though there were a few moments I laughed out loud.) It’s more of a teen drama that follows Murphy’s law on a planet far far away. Still not bad to watch….as long as you know what you’re getting into.

Now for some spoilers beyond the cut:

Most of the spoilers are going to revolve around the very first episode, and the main villain. Or maybe I should say the flaw I saw with the main villain.

In the first episode we find the family on a frozen planet. Dad wants the youngest family member (10) to go into the freezing water, through a hatch, and retrieve a battery pack. He hesitates and the oldest sibling (18) dives in to get the battery. As she is coming up through the water it is freezing around her. It is freezing so fast than when her dad reaches out to grab her the entire lake freezes over. So fast that in a matter of moments it encases her in a solid block of ice that reaches down to the bottom of the glacier.

If that were possible it would have to be DAMN cold, like Pluto cold to get that deep. Their space suits are supposedly keeping them warm on the ice, and the oldest is kept warm IN the ice, and that I can suspend disbelief for. The second part, the rescue, I couldn’t suspend disbelief for.

While they are trying to rescue the oldest Robinson they melt the ice with a small magnesium fire and scoop out the water. Then it begins to rain. The whole they dug begins to fill with water, than it starts to freeze over within seconds, filling in the hole they made just moments before.

This is a world so cold that it is nearly instantly freezing water hundreds of miles below the surface (keep in mind even the coldest temperatures on earth take a while to freeze water, and the thickest ice found on earth is Lake Vida in Antarctica caused by a similar melting situation. It is only 88 feet deep.

But I can forgive the freezing lake, and the thickness of the ice. Let’s pretend they’re on Pluto. What I can’t forgive is liquid water falling from the sky to fill up the hole. If the water is freezing that fast than it isn’t liquid water coming down, it’s either liquid methane, or it should have been freezing rain or snow depending on the temperatures higher up in the atmosphere. I learned about freezing rain in North Dakota because we had it quite often in the winter. If it’s cold enough to freeze lakes that means the rain will freeze too. The liquid doesn’t react like methane once on the ground, and they are calling it water. And if it is methane how are they breathing without their suits? Everything about this is just wrong.

There are so many pieces of science in the show that are just wrong. Most of it isn’t too noticeable, but the really big one is the whole premise of the show to begin with. They are orbiting a black hole that is stripping life from the planet. I’m not an astrophysicist but I do question how they can be so close to an event horizon and not be effected by the time dilation. It appears to be effecting the world in geologic and biologic explosions of matter, and yet they are unaffected. But I’ll leave that to someone who knows more than I do about black holes.

Lastly…Dr Smith, he villain of the show, appears to be a sociopath. She has absolutely no empathy, only self interest. That makes her interesting. She’s also smart enough to manipulate several people into doing what she wants them to do, and fakes being a psychologist well enough.

What infuriated me, and almost got me to give up on the last few episodes, is how Dr Smith occasionally goes against her self interest and does something so colossally stupid, or misguided, that she risks getting herself killed. That is completely against her character and should not happen. One of the times she does this she explains “I didn’t know”, but she was in the room when the other character was explaining the plan. This break in character development happens with several other characters in the series. Each time it happened it took me out of the story and got me scratching my head, or even wanting to shut it off. I think we got through the last few episodes simply to see the end, not because it was that riveting a story.

Maybe I’m too much of a nerd to find this as appealing as I use to, maybe I just enjoyed the Martian way too much. I’m not sure. It’s okay for what it is, but boy does it have issues.


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