Monday, May 14, 2018

Lost In Space S1 E7: Pressurized

Is this fanatic of the original Lost In Space (1965-1968) getting lost in the new 2018 Netflix version of the series? That discovery continues.

The pressure is on for the survivors of the downed Jupiters as the planet continues to grow unstable in Lost In Space, Season One, Episode 7, Pressurized.

A good deal of excitement is generated in an action sequence involving the Chariots making for a lively adventure installment.

Two alternating stories comprise the Chariot-heavy entry. One centers on Judy and the other on her parents.

Penny bonds with Will and works to console his loss of Robot following his brave decision to terminate its unpredictability in the final shots of Eulogy, a loss that one expects to be fairly ephemeral.

The separation from Will opens the door to June Harris, aka Dr. Smith, as the opportunity presents itself to revive Robot under her command. This is a sticky area as Robot is at once listening and learning, whilst also an alien intelligence. This does appear to present some contradictory functionality. 

There are certainly aspects to the series to enjoy and Lost In Space is navigating a lot in its short ten episode run. It's attempting to establish itself and its characters and do so in a generally thoughtful, family-friendly way, but this Lost In Space has a very different feel to it.

As first season runs go Lost In Space is decent. It's not necessarily unforgettable, but there's a lot to appreciate and if the series has a chance to grow and mature it may achieve greater things. It's still early with a third of the episodes remaining.

Fans of the original series Lost In Space cannot help but make comparisons. I asked a non-sci-fi friend to give me their impressions of the show without the baggage I carried with me and they had a generally positive experience viewing it and related to the characters, but agreed it was hardly essential viewing.

I keep asking myself if I like these characters and if they are infused with the same charms that the original cast brought to the show 50 years ago. I keep drawing an inconclusive on that question. There are some I am enjoying more than others, but a definitive answer to that remains open.

Pressurized gives another bit of original Lost In Space tribute to fans revealing in the entry that Dr. Smith is actually June Harris. You wouldn't be much of a fan if you didn't notice the creators have given the Dr. Smith character the last name of the actor who originally portrayed the one and only Dr. Zachary Smith, Jonathan Harris. Not only is respect paid to the late, great Jonathan Harris here, but June Harris even gets the first initial of his first name for the new show.

This is an awfully nice tribute to an actor who truly played an instrumental role in making a name for Lost In Space. Harris even once upon a time created much of his own dialogue for the original series. Sometimes I think the writers could use some help with that here. Note the lack of quotable dialogue to open each of my reviews.

Also for those who missed his appearance in E1 Impact, Judy holds the Dr. Smith picture badge in her hand at the beginning of Pressurized with actor Bill Mumy's face on it. Mumy, who appeared in Impact, once played the young Will Smith. Obtained by Don West, both he and Judy are well aware that Dr. Smith isn't who she says she is based on the ID badge in their possession.

Also, for a nice bit of internal geek fun, there is a scene whereby Will is pining away for Robot with Penny and he is building a small replica of his old friend from the package parts of a Chariot model. The model is of a Chariot from this new series. How long before us geeks get our hands on one of those? Personally, as fast and sleek as this new vehicle is, and it really is showcased and highlighted in Pressurized, I do love and prefer the original and have my own 1:24 scale model of it by Moebius. It's a keeper. Still, you have to commend the series for unabashedly showing off its toys.

The episode concentrated on family members under pressure particularly the dynamic between a struggling John and Maureen in a tar pit. While I suspect much is still unresolved it was good to see this series bring them closer. Unlike the old series, any kind of romantic connection has been significantly absent until now.

Penny, too, showed a good deal of heart for young Will. Mina Sundwall is a real highlight for me as Penny, but she's had little chance to shine for very long.

Maxwell Jenkins hasn't showed quite the commanding presence as Will Robinson as portrayed so colorfully by old bill Mumy on the classic series back in the day, but he has his moments. Mumy was a genuine charmer as Will Robinson. Jenkins, here, is much more subtle with the personality traits and that is refreshing as an approach. He's a nice kid and a genuinely sweet one to this point.

Judy is somewhere between those years of being a kid and a young woman and she is certainly a confident figure like her mother here on the series. Judy has had her psychological set backs but continues to adapt and navigate those challenges whilst in the unknown of space and those aspects are played well. Like the other young cast members, Taylor Russell as Judy is mostly a delight in the series.

The Robinsons are dealing with a lot including an unexpected detour and they are doing their best to hold it all together.

Meanwhile, Dr. Smith, Parker Posey in a rather stealthy, sociopathic, seditious performance, subtly weaves her plans together for reviving Robot. It is all handled quite gradually and holds a lot of promise. We know one Robinson who will be happy for its return, but how will the alien intelligence of Robot be affected following Dr. Smith's hands following its bio-mechanical rebirth. And how will it respond to Will knowing he was the impetus for his untimely demise despite Will's initial intervention to save it in Impact.

There's just three episodes left and Lost In Space, despite reservations, continues to keep me looking forward even if I'm feeling the series isn't nearly as compelling as recent programs like Colony (2016-present). Yet, I'm returning. That's a good sign particularly for a demanding science fiction fan with the weight of history regarding the franchise on his mind. Thus in the pantheon of great science fiction where would this Lost In Space fall? Stay tuned.

Writer: Vivian Lee. Director: Tim Southam (Colony).


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