Friday, February 7, 2020

The Mirror: Lost in Space

Early in the 19th century, Johann David Wyss wrote The Swiss Family Robinson; a novel about a Swiss family of immigrants whose ship, en route to Port Jackson, Australia, goes off course and is shipwrecked in the East Indies. Wyss' purpose for writing the novel was to educate his four sons about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self reliance. The family name "Robinson" is not used in the novel, but as it is modeled on Daniel Dafoe's genre birthing Robinson Crusoe, the title is in homage to the 18th century classic.

Fast forward to the mid 20th century when the inspiration flowed on to produce the science fiction series Lost in Space. John and Maureen Robinson, together with their children Judy, Penny and Will get marooned far from Earth. The setting changed, but the story was the same. A family faced with dangerous isolation has to work together to survive. It's a simple and very appealing idea. 1960's television shows were not renowned for sophisticated special effects, but the science (spaceships and aliens etc) only really had a supporting role.

In 1998, a terrible film adaption of Lost in Space was released. The special effects were a significant improvement on the 1960's television show, but it lacked character. Like many high tech films, it sacrificed substance for style.

When a new Lost in Space series was released in 2018 on  Netflix, I was naturally reluctant to watch it. The original TV series may have finished in the year I was born, but I had seen multiple replays and loved it. I ignored Lost in Space until season one had finished. However, it only took a few episodes for me to fall in love all over again. I've just finished watching season 2, and I'm calling it the best show I've seen since Travelers.

Although, differing in a number of ways from the original series, the Lost in Space reboot triumphs where many science fiction shows fail. Whether it's film, TV or books, I'm mostly interested in characters and relationships, and for me Lost in Space nails it. It has a lot of suspense and breathtaking action sequences which are magnificently supported by special effects, but it's really about the Robinson Family and how they grow stronger and closer together through adversity.

This is the connection: relationship. Leaving aside every imaginable variable, at the core of our existence lies the need for healthy relationships. The quality of our lives has a direct correlation to the quality of our relationships. We were designed to be together and we want that interdependence; we want to belong. Many obstacles and challenges must be faced, and pain is inevitable, but to survive, we need each other.

A colleague of mine criticized Lost in Space because it was 'just a drama in space'. Clearly, the show did not meet her expectations, but for me, I thought 'exactly'. That's why I like it. I feel it. I relate to it. No matter if we, (as represented by the Robinsons), find ourselves lost at sea, lost in space, lost in the jungle or the forest or just plain lost -whatever our circumstances; we grow stronger, wiser and better when we work together to overcome.

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