The classic, much-loved 1960s TV sci-fi series has been re-imagined for the 21st Century with a big budget and cutting edge effects, featuring the same characters, the super-intelligent Robinsons, torn off course en-route to what they hoped would be a fresh start on a distant space colony, and crash landed on an alien planet.
The complete first season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray, loaded with extras and deleted scenes. As an exclusive on the Blu-ray, there’s a colourised unaired pilot episode from the original 1965 show – so you can compare and contrast the old and the new. With that in mind, here’s a look at how the current cast measure up to their original counterparts.
In the original series (which ran from 1965 to 1968) Dr John Robinson was played by Guy Williams, star of TV shows including Bonanza and Highway Patrol. Robinson was a strapping, handsome and intelligent scientist, and head of the family venturing into space to colonise the planet Alpha Centurai. In the new series the role is taken by an equally tall and handsome Toby Stephens (Black Sails), who, this time, is a former Navy Seal. The big difference here is that he his wife Maureen is the brains and the driving force behind the expedition.
In the 1960s series June Lockhart was Maureen Robinson, a biochemist by profession, but whose part in the series was very much in the role of the loving mother, looking after her family on their trip into the unknown. In the reboot, top scientific engineer Maureen, played with real gusto by the actress Molly Parker (Deadwood), has been reimagined entirely. Following the Earth being hit by a meteor, she has been approached by the American military to help build spaceships for intergalactic travel so that humans can colonize another planet.
Major Don West (played by Mark Goddard, who would go on to appear in the sci-fi film Strange Invaders) was a Space Corps officer, and pilot of the spaceship Jupiter 2, that flew the Robinsons into space. He was hot-tempered, but very handy to have around on the ship, and quite adept at fighting off aliens. He also had a possible romantic interest in the form of Judy Robinson. In the new series West (Ignacio Serricchio from Clint Eastwood’s The Mule) is a little more rough around the edges than the air force veteran in the original. He soon forges a bond, however, with the Robinsons, who provide him with the family he never had back on Earth
Marta Kristen (who went on to star in sci-fi films Terminal Island and Battle Beyond the Stars) was Judy, the eldest child of the family, who finds her theatrical ambitions re-routed into interplanetary travel. Initially reluctant to join her family on their space adventure, she quickly changes her mind when she sees Don West will be their pilot. Taylor Russell (who previously appeared in the sci-fi series Falling Skies) is Judy in the new show, this time a step-daughter of John Robinson, and no longer the ditzy would-be actress, but the ship’s doctor – and an extremely perceptive one at that.
Child prodigy Will Robinson (Billy Mumy, who later appear in the 1990s would star in sci-fi show Babylon 5) was highly intelligent and extremely precocious, often getting himself into trouble because of his insatiable curiosity. He strikes up a close friendship with the B-9 robot onboard the ship. Will, in the new show (played by Maxwell Jenkins, Sense8) is a talented engineer for his age, but very shy and a little less self-assured than his predecessor, and latches on to the ship’s robot for companionship.
The B9 robot in the original show was made by Robert Kinoshita, who also came up with the iconic Robby the Robot from the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet. The B9 had human characteristics, and was well known for what became his catchphrase – “Danger Will Robinson!”. In the new series the robot is far more sophisticated and versatile – and initially hostile to humans, until he is rescued by Will Robinson – and the two become firm friends.
Angela Cartwright, a child star in The Sound of Music, played teenager Penny, another highly-intelligent Robinson, with a tomboy-ish streak and a very vivid imagination. Mina Sundwall is Penny in the new series – and here she is down to earth, resourceful, brave and funny. Some might say she gets all the best lines in the series.
Jonathan Harris, as Zachary Smith, produced one of the most memorable characters in the 1960s show. A stowaway on the Jupiter 2, and responsible for it veering off course, the treacherous Smith could be relied upon to attempt sabotage of the Robinson’s space mission at any given opportunity – and soon became the man the audience loved to hate. In the 2018 version, Parker Posey (Tales of the City) is equally hissable as a criminal who bluffs her way into the spaceship impersonating the psychotherapist Dr Smith. Manipulative, deceitful and wholly untrustworthy, Posey is a worthy heir to Harris’ appalling behaviour.
LOST IN SPACE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.