Danger, Will Robinson!

When I was a boy, I would venture into my mother’s kitchen and steal two white paper plates and take them to my room. On one plate, I’d draw a rectangular window and door with crayons or colored pencils. On the other, I’d draw power lights of different colors. Then I’d staple the two plates together and, — Wham! — Jupiter 2is ready for lift-off and adventures.

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Oh, how I loved watching Lost In Space when I was growing up. My bedroom and garden were hostile planets full of dangerous alien monsters. I had no robot to claim as a friend, but tossing around the paper plates and pretending they were a spaceship was fun. I’d spend hours with my homemade Jupiter 2 teetering at the edge of my bed thinking no higher cliff ever existed. Water was the Jupiter 2’s worst enemy: no paper plate could survive the rushing waterfall of a bathroom’s faucet or a garden’s water hose. And just when I thought I’d run out of planets and ideas to explore, a new episode would play on TV and off I went back into space for further thrills and adventures.

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Here’s the odd thing: there were no women in my Jupiter 2. I didn’t have a mom or sisters riding on the spaceship with me. Instead, only robot, Will, and Mark Goddard who played Major Don West in the show were the only ones I allowed aboard my ship. It was sort of like having my own tree house, but without a tree or a house. Boy, I loved Major West and had a crush on him. On many occasions we’d leave Will off somewhere behind and he and I would take the Jupiter out for a spin. Most times we never went back for Will…we just picked up robot and went off into the Milky Way together — so to speak.

I blame Lost In Space for my love of Sci-Fi and spaceships; the show started it all. I couldn’t get enough of the episodes where Jupiter 2 was actually in space. I didn’t care about cheap special effects or strings attached to the Jupiter’s model. As far as I was concerned, that spaceship was in space and I wanted to be part of the crew so I could be with Major West. Yum! I also blame Lost In Space for my “interest” in boots, space suits, and uniforms. I didn’t mind looking silly wearing some of that garb; it was all in good fun.

Lost In Space is now back on television, or computer, thanks to Netflix’s reboot of the series. I had my doubts when I saw the trailer. I wondered if I should see it, or stick with the original show and memories. Would the reboot play off the original’s camp and silly adventures? Would it try to redo the failed movie franchise? Would it wreck my childhood memories of my flying aboard the Jupiter 2? What about the new Major West?

I’ve binged on the first eight episodes of the much too short ten episode season. This chapter of Lost In Space is fun! It’s good! It takes the premise of the original show, updates it, gives it a welcome refresh, and runs with it. It makes changes to the story without apology and brings out the best in the characters and story. This Lost In Space soars!

Robot

The new robot rocks! He had me at his first “Danger, Will Robison.” When I heard those words I was seven years old again. Robot is a beautiful marvel of CGI and puppet modeling. The new Robot has more personality than the original. It’s so hard not to like or fall in-love with it — I’m already searching the Internet for a plastic model for my desk. The creators of the show have done a very good job with robot, and should there be a second season (Netflix, please?), they already promised to add more of the robot’s back-story to the show’s mythology.

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I may have crushed on Major Don West in the original show, but this time around I and the rest of gay-fandom are crushing on John Robinson. Boy, talk about Daddy issues. Toby Stephens makes a fine, fine Mr. Robinson, and I wouldn’t mind suiting up or down with him. His rugged looks, scruffy face, and tough guy ways make me want to blast off to Alpha Centauri and colonize the planet together. Want to take the Jupiter out for a spin? Wanna go explore these dark woods? Pick me! Oh, pick me!

I was not a big fan of the original Dr. Smith. Sure, he was evil; I knew better than to trust him. It was not until much later – while sitting on Major West’s lap as he explained the reason why I was crushing on him – that I finally understood and got the camp and now classic performance of Jonathan Harris’s Dr. Smith persona. Viva! Brava! In the new series, however, Parker Posey’s “Dr. Smith” is eerily more sinister and the show’s strongest cast and story change. Her “Dr. Smith” is no parody of the original; hers is a character all of her own. Whenever she’s on screen I’m squirming wondering what she’s going to do next. I hate her! I love her! I hate to love her! She’s like so many people I know! Will, don’t go near her! Look at her hair! What is she wearing! Get away! Danger!

There’s plenty to love about the women in the show. They are smart. They are strong. They are role models. They deserve every job they have. Unlike the women of the original show, all the new Robinson women are people you’d want to be stranded alone on a remote planet with. They’ll get you out! They’ll rescue you and make sure you don’t touch anything on a Jupiter’s console. Judy is an awesome doctor with a temper to match any evil alien’s. Penny is funny, and like any middle child, always looking to leave a mark of her own. Mrs. Robinson won’t bake you cookies nor make sure all the table settings are placed for when the men get back from exploring. Oh, no; the new Mrs. Robinson is an annoyingly competent, smart engineer, but guess what happens when you have an OCD+Type-A with a chip on her shoulder for a mom. Time to go grab a beer Mr. Robinson?

I have two episodes left to watch before I finish this first season of Lost In Space, but I’m already looking forward to more. I can’t wait. So far, the show’s made me gasp, squirm, shout, cry, and cheer for the Robinsons. I feel right at home in this new version of the Jupiter 2, and I wouldn’t mind going along further on this journey. Lost In Space has come a long way from the two paper plates I used to play with when the original played on television. Wherever the new show decides to go, I’m happy to put all cares and worries aside, and allow myself to feel like a kid again, lost in space!

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