Although Lost In Space began life as a rival to Star Trek in the '60s and had an ill-fated '90s reboot, it's something of an irony that it's by far the closest any TV series has hewed to that sense of wonder and excitement from Star Trek's original run.
By taking on elements of Star Trek, some influences from Steven Spielberg circa ET and Close Encounters, and a far more leaner version of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, Lost In Space is one of Netflix's strongest efforts to date. Far and away, the show has some of the smartest casting yet seen by the streaming service, with the likes of Deadwood alum Molly Parker and Toby Stephens, fresh off of Black Sails, as the parents of the Space Family Robinson and the always welcome Parker Posey as the gender-flipped Dr. Smith. Likewise, the precocious children - played by Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall and Maxwell Jenkins - are all superbly cast in their roles, but what really sells Lost In Space is both the directing and the writing.
Game of Thrones' go-to director for spectacle, Neil Marshall, has been drafted in as the first episode director and has a hand as executive producer, whilst the writing staff consists of former writers for the likes of Charmed, Primeval, Supernatural and many more, all of which points to how well-paced each episode is - something that's been a recurring problem for some of Netflix's efforts, particularly on the Marvel properties like Punisher and Luke Cage.
On top of this, the show looks like it has a sizable budget and has a crisp production design that lends itself to the not-too-distant future setting whilst still retaining a sense of the hopefulness that's a hallmark of this kind of sci-fi. In spite of Lost In Space being a legacy title, there's very little in the way of nostalgia or adoration of it. As mentioned, a number of the leading cast have been dramatically altered from the original, and the lack of a cultural awareness for the original show means it's more readily accepted.
In fact, compared to Star Trek: Discovery, Lost In Space feels more like a rollicking, vital update of Star Trek than anything else. Toby Stephens has the square jaw and derring-do of Captain Kirk, whilst Molly Parker's logical and problem-solving tact is reminiscent of Spock, albeit with a much wider emotional palette. While that might make it sound derivative, you get the sense that the show is riffing on the context as a way of drawing in an audience, but by the time the fourth and fifth episode rolls around, new characters are introduced beyond the Robinsons and expands out the net of stories and arcs for the show.
Don West, played by Bones alum Ignacio Serricchio, is clearly taking pages out of the bad-boy smuggler playbook with his general demeanour and swagger - but, again, it's riffing on it so audiences can identify it more easily before it slips into something else entirely. Likewise, the unnamed robot - which is a major plot point throughout the series - begins in the series as one thing and ends up as something decidedly different by the end.
Overall, Lost In Space is exactly the kind of sci-fi adventure that's best suited for Netflix and acts as a welcome respite from clunky, drab, dystopian efforts like Altered Carbon. Here, it's fun, doesn't take itself entirely too seriously, and has a sense of optimism to it - something that's been missing from sci-fi and is in stark need in today's world.