"Danger, Will Robinson, danger, Will Robinson, genderswap controversy imminent." Unusual casting story of the day comes with news that Dazed and Confused's Parker Posey will be joining #Netflix's #LostInSpace, a reimagining of Irwin Allen's '60s series. Updating the outer space family adventure for the 21st Century, Posey's character is sticking the middle finger to male supremacy by taking on the part of Dr. Smith, the show's (typically) male doctor.
What's in a name?
As for the male version, Dr. Zachary Smith was the nefarious villain of the 1965 series, portrayed as sneaky, lazy, and notoriously camp by Jonathan Harris. I just hope they don't name Posey's version Dr. Zoe Smith, but you know they probably will. The series ran until 1968 and remained "lost" until a reboot film flopped into cinemas in 1998. Headed up by William Hurt, Heather Graham, and Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Hopkins's film was an unmitigated disaster. Perhaps the only saving grace was an above-average performance from Gary Oldman as Dr. Smith.
The original premise followed a family spaceship hoping to colonize a distant planet; the crew members also included the doctor, a secret agent, and a smart-talking robot. The mission runs into trouble when Dr. Smith sabotages their ship and inadvertently becomes trapped with the Robinson family — you guessed it — lost in space. It is expected the Netflix version will probably follow the same idea, although it will be a close call with who has a higher-pitched scream, Posey or Harris!
Posey's role as the conniving Kitty Kowalski in Superman Returns was written just for her and makes her a perfect match for the part as Dr. Smith. If you want to see her get her claws out elsewhere, check her out as uber-bitch Jennifer in Scream 3. Netflix will undoubtedly want to bring in a new crowd of fans, and casting Posey is certainly one way to do it. However, this wouldn't be the first time that sci-fi has swapped a character's nuts and bolts for a more feminine physique.
Battlestar Galactica's Lieutenant Starbuck was played by Dirk Benedict in the 1978 series and Katee Sackhoff in the popular reboot. Whereas the 1978 version was your stereotypical Top Gun fighter pilot, changing the part to a woman won critical acclaim. The cigar-chomping alpha female goes down in history as a bold move, but also as one of the most complex characters of modern times. Also, Alien franchise's final girl Ripley was also originally billed as male, but now it is hard to imagine the role as anything less than the stomper-wearing xenomorph kicking-female.
Netflix and Thrill
This won't be Posey's first foray into VOD, she starred alongside the likes of Jane Lynch and Chris O'Dowd in Netflix's mockumentary Mascots earlier this year. Meanwhile, Lost in Space joins Netflix's boom in original content, hoping to capitalize on the success of Orange Is The New Black and Stranger Things with a core of strong characters and emotional storylines. Posey rounds off the cast of Molly Parker as Maureen Robinson, Toby Stephens as John Robinson, Maxwell Jenkins as Will Robinson, and Taylor Russell as Judy Robinson.
"A female doctor — in space?" You can already hear the uproar from the small minded, however, the news comes just days after Carrie Fisher blasted the lack of female role models in the sci-fi genre on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The Princess Leia actress said that even in space women can't amount to anything and called for a female director to take on Star Wars. Playing not only the villain, but the ship's doctor, Posey is sure to give both feminists and the haters something to talk about.
Given Netflix's record with sci-fi like Sense8, and more recently The Expanse, Lost in Space is sure to be in safe hands. After all, it can't be any worse than 1998's version. If you are looking forward to Neil Marshall's trip into the cosmos, it is best to go into stasis, we will have to wait until 2018 until the 10-episode run will hit the streaming giant.