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Lost In Space (again): we preview the Netflix re-boot

Netflix is no stranger to a sci-fi spectacle, but its current-day retelling of 1960s TV series Lost In Space is one landing you won't want to miss. Gemma Dunn tells us more.

Lost in Space stars (l-r) Max Jenkins as Will Robinson, Molly Parker as Maureen Robinson, Taylor Russell as Judy Robinson, Parker Posey as Dr. Smith and Mina Sundwall as Penny Robinson
Gemma Dunn

THE original series may have aired many moons ago, but news of a modern-day Lost In Space has stirred up a whole world of excitement.

Crash landing on Netflix this month, the re-imagined sci-fi series – a remake of the Irwin Allen hit which ran from 1965 to 1968 – will once again document the Robinson family's fight against all odds to survive in unknown intergalactic territory.

Deemed an opportune time to revisit the show for a new audience, the creators – Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, with Zack Estrin acting as showrunner – will serve up 10 hour-long episodes, available from next Friday. Their aim is to re-kindle a classic that can be watched by the whole family.

If you haven't caught the original, here's everything you need to know before lift-off.

:: WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Why exactly are they 'lost in space'?

The official synopsis: Set 30 years in the future, colonisation in space is now a reality, and the Robinson family is among those tested and selected to make a new life for themselves in a better world.

But when the new colonists find themselves abruptly torn off course en route to their new home, they must forge new alliances and work together to survive in a dangerous alien environment, light years from their original destination.

But they're not alone.

As the Robinsons adjust to the challenge of life on a new planet, they are joined by two outsiders in the cunning Dr Smith and roguish Don West. Not to mention son Will's new-found friend, a sentient robotic alien being.

::WHO'S PLAYING WHO?

A family show through and through, there was no chance that the creators would fail to hold true to the core values of the original show for the most part – including those all-important character dynamics.

As the matriarch of the Robinsons, Maureen (House Of Cards' Molly Parker) is an aerospace engineer with stunning intellect and a fierce protective instinct over her kids.

Playing the role of her husband John Robinson, is Black Sails' Toby Stephens. John is a military veteran and dad to the three Robinson children, and relies on his strong and natural leadership.

Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, and Maxwell Jenkins join the cast as the three Robinson children: Judy, Penny, and Will, respectively.

Casting Russell and Sundwell was a chance to show two strong female characters – while the casting for the role of Will was notably intensive given the character's iconic status.

Parker Posey and Ignacio Serricchio round out the cast, playing the roles of Dr Smith and Don West.

:: WHERE WAS IT SHOT?

Lost in Space takes place on an unknown planet, so one of the challenges – and opportunities – for the show was how to create a world that doesn't exist.

But, untypical of many sci-fi hits, the design team were committed to shooting on location (as opposed to green screens), complete with natural light.

Vancouver in British Columbia was chosen as the ideal setting for the lost planet – termed Goldilocks Planet – thanks to its diversity and vast spaces. But it was a case of finding spots that hadn't been used in previous productions, so as to offer viewers a whole new sphere of reference.

The aim was to have "one foot in reality and then one foot in wonder".

The other key design was that of Jupiter 2, the Robinson's spaceship that crashed on the lost planet.

It was up to production designer Ross Dempster to create a unique set that also felt like home – a vision made into reality, with the help of a top-class visual effects team that had previously worked on Game Of Thrones, and an award-winning special effects set-up.

:: HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO THE ORIGINAL?

Just how does it compare to its much-loved predecessor? Giving a clear nod to the classic 60s series, yet intent on putting their own stamp on the production, the team behind the retelling will definitely show new audiences – and long-standing fans – just how far television production, characterisation and technology have come in the last 50 years.

Firstly, Dr Smith is a female. The role, which was memorably played by Jonathan Harris in the 1960's original, has gone in a new direction with Golden Globe nominee Parker Posey taking up the reins. It remains to be seen how she will play the cunning, yet charismatic villain; but in the current climate, change can only be a good thing.

Away from the human cast, you can expect to see fan favourite 'Class M-3, Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorising Environmental Robot' – known simply as 'Robot' – designed by Robert Kinoshita.

But expect a much newer take, as the 21st-century design is now its own species: a modification like none before, with features such as a face which changes colour from blue to red.

If you've seen the trailer, you'll also know there's a nice nod to the 60s series theme tune which was penned by Oscar-winning composer John Williams – and it still features the iconic phrase "Danger, Will Robinson!".

All in all, expect some unanswered questions from the original to be tied up – and, much like the first, expect to have fun.

:: Lost in Space will be available on Netflix from Friday April 13

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