If I could rewind time a week and add a piece of 2019 sci-fi to my list of the year’s Best and Worst Sci-Fi TV… I totally would. Unfortunately, Season 2 of Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot came out the day before I wrote my year-end survey review. It wasn’t until I had returned from the holidays that I had the time to take it in.
Netflix decided to take a chance at rebooting and updating the classic sci-fi TV show (1965–1968) and the not-so-great 1998 movie). I was skeptical when Season 1 premiered because Netflix does not have a great track record for producing long-lasting fan favorites in recent years. So I was naturally curious to see how they would ruin this one.
To my surprise, Netflix produced a watchable Season 1. Somewhat grudgingly, I began to look forward to Season 2. For the first time in what seemed like a while, I was eager to see a Netflix original. By that time I pretty much had a list of what to expect from a show with the little “N” nestled in the thumbnail corner: unnecessary nudity, lack-luster story, boring characters, and all the creativity of a roadside rock.
Lost in Space has definitely been one of the exceptions. I can picture the conversation around the writers’ table:
Writer: “Hey, I know this is a crazy idea. But let’s write a show that doesn’t try to be edgy and boring just to promote a political narrative. Or, if that’s too much, let’s not serve up content just for the sake of having content!”
Netflix exec: “Whoa there, that is crazy talk.”
Netflix exec: “You make a good point, let’s try it just this once.”
Lost in Space is like a breath of fresh air. It’s a show made for families but it remains deeply intriguing for a broad public. It’s filled with the mystery, action, and adventure the Robinson family encounters while stranded in space.
The basic plot driver is the end of life on Earth as we know it. After Earth’s slow and irreversible death is determined by scientists to be inevitable, those who pass extensive and grueling tests can qualify to join a ship (the Resolute) venturing toward Alpha Centauri to begin new lives on a new earth. Despite some sketchy buyouts, the whole Robinson family passes their tests and decides to fly to Alpha Centauri together.
The show chronicles their adventures after an inadvertent meeting with an AI alien life form, “Robot,” who becomes one of the key characters throughout subsequent seasons. Season 1 ended in a cliffhanger: Where did Robot came from? Was he created by an advanced race? What did he want from the colonists? Where was he leading the Robinsons? So many questions left unanswered at the end of Season 1.
Season 2 moves further into the mystery while shedding light on a few mysteries from Season 1. It left me in a whirlwind of questions and anticipation that reminded me of my reaction to Season 4 of The Expanse. I wanted to know more about this AI life form. Was this really AI or was it an alien life that merely looks like a robot? What mysteries will the AI reveal about the universe to the Robinsons?
Needless to say, I will be watching Season 3. If you’re into space adventures I absolutely recommend Lost in Space. This may be the only chance you get to get hooked into a Netflix show for a long while so don’t pass it up.
If you enjoyed this review by Adam Nieri, you might want to check through these as well for thoughts about films that might interest you, brought to you by Mind Matters News Sci-Fi Saturday:
2019’s Best and Worst Sci-Fi TV: 2019 featured many sci-fi television and movies that were less sci-fi than political narrative. In 2019, I fell out with Netflix. I felt bombarded by more and more edgy content, as though Netflix wanted me to know how “adult” it is. Rather than producing a few amazing originals, Netflix started vomiting up a ton of terrible originals.
Ad Astra: The Great Silence becomes personal. The film images the fate of those seek significance in the stars and may well wait indefinitely. In a world where the divine touch of extraterrestrial intelligence doesn’t elevate human existence to any level of significance, we are left with Ad Astra: a slow, methodical decay of human significance.
Alita, Battle Angel A Mind Matters Review: If you love anime and felt betrayed by the flop of Ghost, I would highly recommend Alita.
Another Life All fun and games till an AI falls in love. Then it descends into a convoluted drift of uncertain storytelling. And the victim is not primarily the viewer, who has other options. The victim is the art itself.
The Expanse: A Mind Matters TV Series Review
The attention to detail and the realistic portrayal of space set it apart from run-of-the-mill sci-fi.
I love the deep mystery surrounding the show’s central narrative device, the proto-molecule. It is somewhat sentient and is desperately trying to figure out what happened to the civilization that created it and was then wiped out while it lay dormant in our solar system for millions of years.
The Feed—A Mind Matters TV Series Review: I started out thinking that the show was just the usual ho-hum tyrant-AI-takes-over flick and it is so good to be wrong! Imagine a world where your mind is stored on social media. Now, what happens if someone steals, then abandons it. What will you do?
How To Become Human—A Mind Matters Short Film Review. This new film turns a conventional sci-fi storytelling premise upside down. Rather than an AI struggling to become human in a human-dominated world, we watch a human struggling to be more like an artificial intelligence in an AI-dominated world.
Love, death, & robots Despite the trash and ruined expectations, several shorts were enjoyable and downright fun to watch
Nightflyers: A Mind Matters TV Series Review Despite its flaws, Nightflyers does not deserve all the criticism it received. It’s the saga of a ship of scientists making their way through the cosmos to unlock the secrets of a mysterious entity known as Volcryn. It turns out that Volcryn is not the only mystery; the Nightflyer holds many of its own secrets.
The Outer Worlds—A Mind Matters Game Review: You must discover the dark secret of the Halcyon space colony, despite the greed and corruption of a handful of powerful corporations. After the raging dumpster fire that Fallout 76 (2018) turned out to be, I hesitated to invest my time and money in another role-playing game (RPG) epic. But I am glad I did.
Simulation: Would a simulated universe even make sense? A well-crafted short sci-fi film suggests, intentionally or otherwise, maybe not. I’ve seen quite a few sci-fi short films over the years and Simulation is certainly one of the better ones. However, beyond that, I’m not sure this film knows what it is; it’s an identity crisis.
Sprites: Will plausible robots replace movie stars? A short film prepares us to think about it.
Terminator: Dark Fate—A Mind Matters Movie Review. Aside from the fact that it felt like a retextured version of Terminator 2, I was constantly being reminded of the film’s obvious political agenda. Movies like Terminator: Dark Fate don’t seem to be made by people who care about the narrative. They seem to think that they need only make something that looks like a movie but acts as a medium for broadcasting their message to the masses.