Out of this world
The classic 1960s TV series Lostin Space is re-imagined in a dramatic Netflix reboot, writes HOLLY BYRNES
WHEN news first broke that ‘queen of indie cool’ Parker Posey would play Dr Smith in a Netflix re-imagining of Lost In Space, fans of the sci-fi classic embraced the casting call.
Unlike the controversy which surrounded the gender switch made by producers of Doctor Who, Posey had a long pedigree for making the weird seem wonderful.
Or as one fansite argued: “If anyone can play selfishly evil and funny at the same time, it’s Parker Posey.”
She nailed just that as Tom Hanks’ laughably selfabsorbed girlfriend Patricia Eden in romantic-comedy smash You’ve Got Mail; just as she did in a string of other TV appearances including New Girl, Louie and her first Netflix role in Mascots.
But so beloved and iconic was Jonathon Harris’ camp performance as Dr Zachary Smith in the 1960s original, the task of recapturing that delicious mix of good and evil brought with it some risk. Posey tells TV Guide it was a thrilling and nostalgic challenge to accept.
“I was really touched to actually play someone so original as he was,” the 49-year-old says.
“[Harris] had a very inventive personality, and he came on the show and kind of stole it from everyone else … he was such a character.
“He was always funny. He was kind of evil, but you always liked him, you know.”
Set 30 years in the future, where colonisation in space is a reality, the Robinson family “find themselves abruptly torn off course en route to their new home” and must navigate the dangers and unfamiliar conditions of a new alien environment.
This new ‘world’ was actually the wilds outside Vancouver, making this 10-part season look very different to the original, which was filmed on a dusty sound stage in Hollywood.
Black Sails star Toby Stephens plays father John Robinson, a military veteran, opposite Deadwood’s Molly Parker, his aerospace engineer wife Maureen, who signs her family up to the space experiment.
Their children – Judy (Taylor Russell), Penny (Mina Sundwall) and Will ( Sense8’ s Maxwell Jenkins – have all inherited their parents’ smarts and survival skills.
Will and Dr Smith share a unique bond, despite the fact Posey’s character is manipulating his family and not what she seems.
Posey celebrates the smart way the young characters are defined and the credit the show gives to its audience, across generations.
“I really love when I see entertainment that treats kids like they know what they’re saying and what they’re talking about … like they’re young adults,” she says. “In the recreation of [ Lost In Space] I hope it brings in all those feelings that those good shows did that I loved as a kid … ’cause I loved shows that had kids in them that were feeling something … that were misfits or different.”
The strength of the female characters was also “empowering”, says Parker, who Posey describes as “her nemesis, her shadow” in the new series.
“They are smart and there is never any question that they are competent and strong and as able as any of the men in the show,” Parker says.
Parker describes her costar Posey as “just brilliant” noting her ability to switch from light to dark, from one moment to the next. “Her comedy chops are so strong. She just kills and then she can turn on a dime and you really feel for this person.”
Fresh spin: Parker Posey and Maxwell Jenkins star in the Netflix re-imagining of LostInSpace.