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Tag: Lost in Space

The Pain of having to Wait after a Cliffhanger

To quote the original “Lost in Space” franchise, “Oh, the pain… the pain”… of having to endure the wait for a show’s next season.

Cliffhangers are the norm in movie and TV storytelling these days. It’s not unusual to get to the credits of anything without a significant hanging thread compelling you to get to the next episode as fast as possible.

My family and I just watched the third (and final) season premiere of Netflix’s “Lost in Space.” And of course, our 11-year-old son was pleading at the end of the episode that we blow through his bedtime to watch the second episode. (As there are only 8, I held the line to extend the joy over these upcoming viewing weeks.)

Keeping Track of the Jupiter 2’s Course
This fun, non-stop sci-fi series has been constructed on an endless number of cliffhangers, and it’s been especially challenging as a viewer to wait between seasons to see what happens. It’s helpful that Netflix automatically served up a recap of season 2 to kick things off. The writers enjoy dropping breadcrumbs, and you really need to keep track of developing plot points across the seasons.

Yes, it’s been hard to handle the long pause between the second and third seasons of “Lost in Space.” It’s been almost 2 years! (Yes, there were Covid-19 production delays.) But the producers have committed to get the fans to the finish line. (I can’t yet speak to the characters’ success on that important question.)

Danger
You’d think that properly ending any story is an essential technique. But of course, viewership numbers can sometimes kill off a series prematurely and leave the cliffhanger… hanging.

It’s not bad storytelling. Its economics. But ultimately, it actually is bad storytelling.

For a time, I wondered if the new “Dune” would fall into this category.

Why do Movies have Cliffhangers to Sequels that aren’t Greenlit?
The writers and producers of “Dune” wisely chose to tackle just the first half of the book (unlike the 1984 flick, which tried to cram it all in).

The start of “Dune” even includes a title graphic that say “Part One.” And yes, the movie ends on a cliffhanger, although it plays more like a chapter ending. It’s arguably the film’s weakest element. But you accept it, because there’s going to be a part two… right?

Well, after I watched it with my son on the day of its premiere in October, I immediately did some Googling to see when the sequel was coming out, and I was shocked with what I found.

It’s not that they hadn’t shot the sequel yet. It’s that the sequel hadn’t even been greenlit! They were waiting to see how successful the first film is.

I get the economics, but come on!

How Good is Half of “Dune?”
Okay, so they did green-light the sequel a few days later. (The sequel will be released in October 2023.)

But imagine if the box office wasn’t so kind to “Dune.” We would only have gotten half a story.

As it turned out, “Dune” was a big success. And my son and I liked it too.

It’s a perfect family film if you’re regulars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, there’s lots of action and PG-13-level violence. But If your kids can handle “The Avengers,” “Dune” shouldn’t be a problem. “Dune” is more mature in its storytelling style and more serious in tone. And I think it’s a great next step for a young sci-fi fan.

The Economics can Ruin a Movie Fan’s Day
I can’t dispute economics, but it would have been so much better from a viewer’s perspective if both movies were made back to back, like the second and third installments of “The Matrix” series. (Can’t wait for the fourth one, even though it’s been 18 years!)

Hey, what about a three or four-part “Dune” miniseries for HBO Max? (Yes, again that means covering all of the content.)

Ultimately, If you’re going to tell one story, I feel you’ve got to commit to telling the whole story! Waiting for box office numbers can tragically lead to movies without an ending and very cranky fans.

Patience
On the other hand, maybe you’ve just got to have some faith that things are going to work out the way they should. I’m sure director Dennis Villeneuve had faith that he’d get his shot to direct his “Dune” sequel.”

And remember when the pilot of the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot came out in 2003 with a huge cliffhanger? The actual ground-breaking sci-fi series didn’t show up until 2005. So having to wait is not without precedent.

And then there’s “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” We had to wait another three years to find out Han’s fate.

But in this age of countless streaming options and a glut of great content to watch, fans can be fickle.

If there’s a cliffhanger, please don’t make us wait too long for what comes next.

Geeky Parent Review: Netflix’s “Lost in Space” Season 2 has Changed Course

“Lost in Space” is on a journey to becoming more family friendly. The question is whether this hurts the epic Netflix sci-fi series.

Season 2 of Netflix’s “Lost in Space” is better than the first. No question.

Not that season 1 was bad. In fact, I really liked 2018’s 10-episode adventure, which reimagined the classic 1960’s series with a more action-packed, gritty storytelling style.

And in many ways, I felt that season 1 was a solid family-friendly science fiction series to watch with my (then) seven-year-old son.

Season 1’s Challenges
But the first season was filled with any number of ‘challenging’ moments better designed for adults than kids. It was hard to figure out some of the complex characters, and it took time to determine whether they were ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ (And some were left in the gray zone.)

Even though the series is rated PG-TV, a few of the alien encounters in season 1 might be a little too scary for younger kids. Though there wasn’t any serious violence, there were plenty of intense moments involving life and death.

And then, there were a few examples of salty language thrown in that you might not want to expose your kids to. (Episode 9 at 14 minutes was the worst offender.)

All of these factors point to the reality that you’ve really got to watch season 1 of “Lost in Space” with your kids. You’ll also probably want to deconstruct some of the plot elements with them as teachable moments.

Season 2’s Improvements
“Lost in Space” season 2 successfully addresses all of these ‘weaknesses’ as a family-friendly vehicle.

Most of the problems with the Robinsons as a family unit have been worked through, and we’re left with an overachieving A-team that’s more unified in confronting every life-threatening challenge that’s thrown its way. The result is more adrenaline-fueled adventure for the viewer.

Simply put, season 2 has more thrills.

And the cinematic-level special effects continue to dazzle, especially for a TV series.

But this series is not only about the action. The great cast also continues to be a major asset. The actors are consistently solid, embodying both strong male and female characters.

In fact, if you had to pick the dominant character, (which is difficult) it’s Molly Parker’s Maureen Robinson. And Parker Posey’s Dr. Smith continues to mystify and satisfy.

Positive Course Correction
Season 2’s storytelling has also moved towards a simpler structure, which kids will be able to digest more easily. That may not be a positive change for some adult viewers who enjoyed the “Battlestar Galactica” type complexities in season 1. But the enduring ‘heart’ from this “Lost in Space” has always set this sci-fi series on a different, more optimistic course.

As for the salty language issue, the writers have cleaned up their act. There’s nothing of concern to parents in any of these ten new scripts.

While season 2 has simplified its structure, it’s also benefited from any number of continuing story elements, most importantly the idea of growth and evolution that comes from experience.
(Minor spoiler: the Robot changes.)

Figuring Out the Details
The only small beef I have with season 2 is there are certain quick plot twists than are slightly confusing. I think some pivotal moments literally happen too quickly, requiring a 30-second rewind. Others appear part of the ongoing mystery behind the connection between the aliens and the humans.

And there are a few expected payoffs that you don’t get by the end of season 2. I’m sure that’s because some of the cards are being held for season 3, which is clearly set up at the end of the episode 10.

That said, enough gets wrapped up in season 2 that I am satisfied with the overall experience of “Lost in Space” (as opposed to being entirely drained by the end of each of the “Stranger Things” season cliffhangers).

Danger… Friend
“Lost in Space” season 2 is a whole lot of fun to watch for the entire family. As a geeky father, I don’t feel that it’s lost anything by becoming more family friendly. In fact, I believe it has clearly locked its identity in this season.

While “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ has sucked all of air out of sci-fi water-cooler conversations, you may have missed the arrival of this next Robinson family chapter.

Now’s the time to follow its orbit.

Buckle up!

Should Kids Watch Netflix’s New ‘Lost in Space’ Series?

I still have my toy ‘Robot’ from the original “Lost in Space.” So, you can imagine how excited I feel about Netflix reimagining the series. The big question I’ve tried to figure out is whether my second grader is old enough to watch it with me. If you’re a parent with similar concerns, here’s my take…

I’ve been searching for a family-friendly TV series to watch with my second grader. So when Netflix’s new “Lost in Space” series premiered, I rushed to check it out. Not only because I’m a sci-fi geek who wanted to see how the creators had reimagined this version, but because I was hoping that this could be the new show for me and my boy.

I quickly streamed the full 10-episode season on my own, and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to binge watching.
(Each episode’s cliffhanger certainly contributed.)

Here’s one parent’s point of view…

The New Robinson Family
For those who know the original “Lost in Space” (1965-1968), the basics of the story are mostly the same… The Robinsons are trying to get to Alpha Centauri on their trusty spaceship, the Jupiter 2. They want to start a new life on an off-world colony, because the Earth is becoming uninhabitable. And they run into a whole universe of trouble on their trip… beginning with crash landing on an alien planet.

 

 

 

 

The major characters have all been brought back with two evolutionary updates…

The mom – Maureen Robinson, played by Molly Parker is essentially the family leader, because the dad – John Robinson, played by Toby Stephens has been out of the picture for a while (more on this in a moment).

Dr. Smith is now a woman, played by Parker Posey. And her dishonest, delusional and rather creepy character is played much closer to how Jonathan Harris did it in the first few episodes of the original series.

Which is to say, Dr. Smith is not at all silly.

This is Not Your Father’s Silly “Lost In Space”
In fact, there’s nothing silly about this “Lost in Space.” Nothing at all like the campy style of the original. This one is quite serious as the journey unfolds.

It’s not as dramatic a reimagining as “Battlestar Gallactica,” but this show certainly reflects some of those influences. The good news is this “Lost in Space” has an optimistic view on its universe, however flawed it has been set up to be…

The better news is at its core… “Lost in Space” is good,-old-fashioned ‘wholesome’ adventure. It has lots of thrills and great special effects with a seemingly limitless number of challenges that this family Robinson must figure out to survive.
(It even retains the original’s upbeat music by John Williams.)

“Lost in Space” has Grown Up
As with any action-packed sci-fi series, these episodes are a little ‘intense.’ Is this PG-TV rated show too aggressive for your younger crowd? I think that depends on how comfortable they are with what they’ve already been exposed to…

My son has seen the original “Star Wars” movies, but not the more violent crop of recent Jedi flicks.

He’s happily watched the first three episodes of “Lost in Space” with me, and he’s eager for more. That said, he woke up recently in the middle of the night with a bad dream after consuming the scarier moments from episode 3.
(Spoiler alert: Icky alien eels invade the fuel tanks and the ship.)

The biggest problem I’ve found is the writers saw fit to throw some salty language into a few of the episodes. Language I would prefer my boy not repeat. The worst offending moment comes about 14 minutes into episode 9 inside a cave, where Penny, played by Mina Sundwall uses the ‘S’ word to punctuate a major plot point. It’s actually pretty funny and entirely in line with her character’s comic timing. But that’s not really family-friendly script writing.
(At least it wasn’t as gratuitous as when the writers of “Star Trek: Discovery” decided to drop the F-Bomb for no good reason.)

Danger, Will Robinson!
Fortunately, there’s not a lot of violence in this “Lost in Space,” though there is an ongoing threat of violence and a whole lot of peril. Each of the Robinson characters face huge gauntlets where they need to step up.

The one brief exception on the violence issue surrounds the ‘Robot,’ played by Brian Steele under all of that metal. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say this character has different origins than the original Robot. And just by looking at its menacing exoskeleton, you’ll get a sense of the ‘danger’ it may pose.

Let’s just say that the Robot struggles with its core programming. Its journey to ‘do the right thing’ is an easily digestible morality lesson for kids. And the original series’ character connection between Will Robinson, played by Maxwell Jenkins and the Robot is completely maintained here.

 

 

 

 

What 8 year old wouldn’t be interested in a story about an 11-year-old boy and his own robot?

Of course, my son was immediately drawn to the character of the Robot.

Your Contribution Towards Family-Friendly TV
The story arc of the Robot is in many ways the simplest for kids to handle. Much of the rest of the series deals with more complex ‘human’ issues that you may need to deconstruct and talk through with your kids.

First off, this Robinson family barely starts out as a functioning unit. John Robinson had been away for three years on assignment in the military and that separation had lead John and Maureen to the point of official separation. So they’ve got some marital difficulties to work through.

Be prepared to talk about Dr. Smith and why she’s entirely untrustworthy, even pathologic… though she sometimes puts on a good face.

All of the actors do a nice job making the Robinsons a likable family. You absolutely root for them… even Don West, played by Ignacio Serricchio who eventually becomes a permanent house guest. He pretends to be a selfish rogue, but of course he has a heart of gold.

But just so you know, there are other human characters roaming about who fall into much grayer categories (another opportunity to talk it through with your kids).

The writing uses a number of flashback scenes, (à la “Lost”). So you may need to call out that storytelling device a few times.

The Women on the Jupiter 2
I should also mention that this series is not just for ‘boys.’ In fact, In many ways, this show is more about the female characters. And they’re written with more complexity…

Maureen Robinson is the main hero, but she’s had to make some questionable decisions along the way. Dr. Smith is the villain, but everything she does isn’t entirely premeditated or self-serving… Or is it? The rivalry between Maureen and Dr. Smith is a compelling, ongoing plot element.

And Judy Robinson, played by Taylor Russell is the clever MacGyver of the family.

Simply said, the women of this Jupiter 2 can easily take care of themselves.

Do Your Homework
Do you need to watch the episodes first to make sure you know what your kids are in for?
I did. And it was a good choice for my family.

I recommend you check out the first 2 episodes on your own. You can make a good decision for your family from there.
(Just be on the lookout in episode 9 for that word so you can fast forward past it, as I’m planning on doing.)

This Geeky Dad and his Boy are Enjoying the Journey to Alpha Centauri
I think the best reason kids should watch this series is it demonstrates how nothing is impossible. Over and over again, the Robinsons figure it out and get it done. As a plot device, that can get a little tedious for some adults (not me), but it’s perfect for kids.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I really like this new and gritty “Lost in Space.” And I predict my boy will continue to enjoy it.

There’s danger at every turn, but once your kids get the sense that the Robinsons are going to make it through, they’ll probably be able to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Of course, the last word uttered at the end of the final episode of season one is…
(I’m not giving anything away.)

“Danger.”

Ultimately, for me… the new “Lost in Space” hits the sweet spot for uplifting
sci-fi family TV watching.

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