The Robinsons: Lost in Space (2004) — John Woo’s forgotten scifi reboot

“Danger, Will Robinson!”

Justin’s rating: But where are the slow-motion doves?

Justin’s review: For a cheesy piece of Star Trek plagiarism, Lost in Space has done well for itself as a franchise. There was the original three-season run in the ’60s, an animated pilot created in 1973, the guilty pleasure of the 1998 movie, and the moderately successful 2018 Netflix reboot. Yet tucked into that long legacy is another entry that’s as bizarre as it is unknown — a John Woo-directed 2004 TV pilot made for the WB. It wasn’t picked up and remained in relative obscurity until an enterprising soul posted the 45-minute show online.

Honestly, this is the sort of stuff I live for on this site: Obscure, geeky, rare, and boasting at least one (1) robot.

The Robinsons: Lost in Space attempted to shuck the bargain basement scifi of its predecessor by embracing more edgy and dark themes — not unlike Battlestar Galactica, which was taking off around this time (ironically, one of the sets from this show was repurposed for Battlestar Galactica’s Pegasus set).

It’s 2097, and Col. Robinson is both a hero of a failed alien invasion of Earth and a failed father to a WB-endorsed dysfunctional family. And what better to bring a tense and misbehaving family together than to jump on a spaceship and sail off to a colony together! That backfires somewhat when some ticked-off aliens attack their ship, and they escape along with Major West through a wormhole in the Jupiter-2, becoming… well, you know.

Because of the channel and expectations for its kind of shows, The Robinsons injects more in the way of teen drama than any of us needed in our diets. Lots of slow-mo pining, snarking back at parents, and out-of-nowhere heart-to-hearts. That jars somewhat with the scifi overlay that I’m here to see.

Weirdly enough — especially considering this show’s penchant for unnecessary drama — The Robinsons don’t include Dr. Smith. At least not in the pilot, which is an absolute shame. To compensate, they throw in one or two extra kids for the family to babysit. Also, Judy and Major West kick off with a fling, so enjoy those raging TV hormones!

Unfortunately, there’s precious little being lost anywhere. This plays as (probably) part one of a two-part pilot, setting up the lost-ness without doing much in the way of galaxy exploration. At least it’s kind of entertaining setup, with Greedo’s cousins invading the ship and demanding to be taken seriously as a villain.

Could The Robinsons: Lost in Space have been a good series? I don’t see why not. It’s always hard to judge the potential on a pilot alone, especially since even full series have first episodes that struggle with tone, identity, and plot. It’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, even with the ham-handed drama and mid-2000s CGI lowering the standards somewhat.


  • Early 2000s over-the-ear headphones
  • Was the wardrobe designer allergic to any colors other than “blinding white?”
  • “Planet Redneck” sounds enchanting
  • That kid is super-unenthused about playing catch with his dad
  • “What’s a cowboy?”
  • Your ship can be fully under attack but you don’t know it because your window isn’t open?
  • The aliens look so dorky, like chunky Greedos
  • She just murdered him with a door
  • About time we had an alien decapitation

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