Audiences at Wondercon were sitting at the edge of their seats waiting to hear the iconic line “Danger Will Robinson!” from a robot when Netflix debuted the first episode of the streaming giant’s remake of Lost In Space (debuting April 13). The line earned a round of applause as soon as it was said and the first episode impressed the filled arena with its updated take on Irwin Allen’s ’60s space series. Showrunner Zack Estrin and cast members Toby Stephens, Molly Parker, Max Jenkins, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, Ignacio Serricchio, and Parker Posey were on hand at the fan confab to talk about the remaking epic family adventure which adds changes that are suitable for 2018 but still keeps in the spirit with the original.
In a time when nostalgia sells, Netflix has given a makeover to Lost in Space. Obviously, new technology allows for more visually advanced storytelling, but there’s a groundedness to the new series — specifically with how the family isn’t perfect.
“It’s a real modern family,” said Stephens, who plays patriarch John Robinson. “John has faults. He’s not some ideal parent. He’s trying to be an adult parent. They are all struggling to be better.”
Based on the first episode, the new iteration of the series isn’t dark nor is it campy but it is very family driven, flashing back and forth between before and after the Robinsons were lost. It explores the relationship between the Robinsons: the marital struggle between John and Maureen (Parker); Penny’s (Sundwall) middle-child syndrome and her sisterly friction with overachieving older sibling Judy (Russell) and of course, the young, impressionable Will Robinson (Jenkins) who is just trying to figure out who he is. But through all of this, the show seems to maintain the sense of intergalactic urgency as they try to survive the wilds of space — especially in the pilot where it seems like the odds are constantly stacked against them.
The show originated in the ’60s and then a 1998 film adaptation — that many would prefer to forget about — was made. Nonetheless, the ’60s version was very catered for that time so it only made sense for the new iteration to be appropriate for 2018 and a new audience. Estrin points out that the Robinsons are not the only people who end up stranded on this planet and that they have a huge international cast. “You’ll be seeing people all over the world,” he said. More than that, the show puts women front and center — and even gender-flips the character of Dr. Smith played by Posey.
Posey says that she remembers watching the original Lost in Space when she was a 5-year-old and said that she “loved Doctor Smith.” She adds, “When I heard they were going to offer me the part it was really touching for me. I loved that they made her into a woman. You’re going to see over 10 episodes how this new Doctor Smith evolves.”
“I love the original [show] and I certainly love the original Maureen,” said Parker speaking to the retooled female roles on the show. “But we live in a different time of gender dynamics. The women [on the show] could do whatever the men do — it isn’t even a question. It’s just the reality. It’s incredible to play a woman as smart as she and at the same time, has these flaws and has to connect with her kids.”
She adds, “It’s 30 years into the future and we have imagined a reality we would like to see. We will hopefully be in a place where we want to be in terms of class, race, and gender.”