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Netflix's family-friendly 'Lost in Space' and four more shows to watch this spring
Max Jenkins stars as Will Robinson in Netflix's new adaptation of "Lost in Space," premiering April 13. - photo by Michelle Garrett Bulsiewicz
A story of space travel, a sentient robot, a conniving villain and family togetherness? All this is encapsulated in Netflix's new adaptation of Irwin Allen's "Lost in Space."

In the first five episodes screened for the media, Netflix's "Lost in Space" is turning out well-acted, well-written and even clean enough for the whole family to watch. There are scarier parts that would likely upset younger children, but other than some violence there isn't any content for parents to worry about. Yes, a miracle has occurred Netflix has created a quality show without any nudity, profanity or sex.

A 1960s television series, "Lost in Space" was originally aimed at an American audience obsessed with the space race against Russia. The program told the story of the Robinson family, who departs on the spaceship "Jupiter" in the year 1997. Their mission is to find a new habitable planet for the inhabitants of overcrowded Earth. In the actual year 1998, "Lost in Space" was also adapted into a movie, which earned a whopping 27 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But Netflix seems to have hit closer to the mark with an adaptation that brings Allen's story into the 21st century while staying true to its original themes. There's even a cameo from Bill Mumy, the actor who played the original Will Robinson.

Netflix added a few major plot differences, too. In the remake, Parker Posey portrays a female Dr. Smith, the show's manipulative, narcissistic antagonist whose backstory is very different from the one first played by Jonathan Harris in the '60s.

Also, the Robinsons are sent to space not by themselves, but with hundreds of families selected for a colonization mission. When they crash-land on an unknown planet light-years away from their original goal, the youngest Robinson finds Robot, who also differs in more than just appearances from Allen's first imagining. In the first episode, though, Robot still spouts off his famous line: "Danger, Will Robinson."

The family isn't quite as stereotypical as they were in the '60s, either. The Robinson parents (Toby Stephens and Molly Parker) have some serious marital issues that almost keep the father from coming with them into space. The oldest daughter, Judy (Taylor Russell), is somehow a totally different race than the rest of the family (it's briefly suggested in one episode that she's only biologically related to one of the Robinson parents). Will (Max Jenkins) is an insecure, anxious child who doesn't feel like he earned his spot on the highly selective colonization mission. And Penny (Mina Sundwall) serves as excellent comic relief.

Writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless add a good deal of mystery to the plot in the Netflix series, though a certain amount of parental neglect seems to be required to make the plot function.

Mostly, the Robinsons deal with alien creatures, natural disasters and sibling rivalry, and in the end learn about forgiveness and family love in a way that feels sincere. Premiering April 13, this is one Netflix original series families should definitely give a shot.

'Howards End'

The most exciting thing about this BBC miniseries of a classic E.M. Forster novel is Matthew Macfadyen (as in Mr. Darcy from the 2005 "Pride and Prejudice") playing the role of Mr. Wilcox. Kenneth Lonergan created the new adaptation of this story about three unorthodox, orphaned siblings living in Edwardian London whose lives become intertwined with the wealthy, conservative Wilcox family and their country home, Howards End. While it's perhaps impossible the series could ever live up to the 1992 movie starring Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter, that doesn't mean it won't still be enjoyable. The four hourlong episodes premiere in the United States on Starz April 8.

'The Crossing'

An Oakland cop escapes a stressful job and marriage by becoming a sheriff in small-town Oregon, and things get more complicated when 47 war refugees show up on his shores from 180 years in the future. Oh yeah, and some of them seem to have superhuman powers. The pilot, available on ABC, for this sci-fi adventure series starring Steve Zahn aired April 2 and will continue on Monday nights.

'New Girl' final season

The delayed seven-episode final season of "New Girl" takes place three years after the end of season six. Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) finally got together in the last 10 seconds of the season finale, Cece (Hannah Simone) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) found out they were pregnant and Winston (Lamorne Morris) got engaged. Season seven will begin with Jess and Nick returning from a European book tour (presumably for Nick's self-published "Pepperwood Chronicles"); Schmidt staying home with his daughter, Ruth, while Cece brings home the bacon (apparently her modeling agency took off); and Winston and his wife expecting a child. Original cast member Coach (Damon Wayans) is expected to make an appearance, along with other returning guests. Season seven of "New Girl" airs April 10 on Fox, with a two-part, one-hour series finale on May 15.

'Little Women'

It's a good time for classic novel miniseries PBS is airing BBC's new three-part adaptation of "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott on May 13. From "Call the Midwife" creator Heidi Thomas, it will reimagine the story of four sisters being raised by their mother while their father is away during the Civil War.
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