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Lost in Space
  • Composed by Christopher Lennertz
  • Lakeshore / 72m

Loosely based on The Swiss Family Robinson – but in space – the 1960s tv show Lost in Space was popular in its day and reruns of it (and the other Irwin Allen-produced shows of the day) kept running for a long time thereafter.  An ill-advised feature remake of it in 1998 didn’t do very well, mostly because it wasn’t very good, and a further two decades later comes a Netflix reboot of it.  The ten-episode first season has proven to be very popular and so the show will continue.

For composer Christopher Lennertz it was a dream project to work on – providing him with a very broad canvas to create a huge, traditional orchestral space adventure score in the tradition of the great ones of the past.  John Williams provided a couple of main themes for the original 1960s show and Lennertz worked one of them (the famous one) throughout his score – the tune is fairly rooted in its time, so it’s impressive how well he pulls that off.  I’ve been a fan of the composer for a long time and it’s great to see him get a project which allows him to spread his wings in this way.

Christopher Lennertz

The main title piece first presents Lennertz’s warm Americana theme before segueing into the familiar John Williams theme from the original show’s third season, given a rollicking big orchestral treatment.  Then we’re straight into the first of many impressive action pieces, “Crash Landing” – it has an epic sweep to it, is exciting, very dramatic and great fun.  “Will Exploring” is a lengthy piece which goes through several stages on its journey – from magic and wonderment through suspense and finally all-out horror, during which an action motif which runs through several cues is first heard – and it sounds very much like an offshoot of Lalo Schifrin’s famous “The Plot” from Mission: Impossible, presumably coincidentally.

Perhaps not quite as expected is just how good the more gentle material is.  This is first heard in “Moby Dick” – a beautiful, warm theme opens the cue; later the composer moves to a more ethereal sound, with twinkly synths, and it’s just as lovely.  The seven-and-a-half-minute “Will and the Robot” is another remarkably well-developed piece (I don’t know how many individual pieces of music this long have been heard in episodic television over the years, but I suspect not many).  It begins with a continuation of the ethereal feeling from the second half of the previous cue, this time achieved with vocals, before exploding into life with some brass-heavy gestures signalling danger (what else?)  After this section we move into sweeping, emotional drama which again has a certain epic feel to it, before concluding with a dramatic fanfare.

“Danger Will Robinson” (the original show’s iconic line) opens with some strained, emotional strings which really soar away (eventually with choral accompaniment) before concluding with a reverential, passionate performance of the Williams theme.  Then comes “Family Chores Fugue”, the centrepiece of which is indeed a wonderful classical fugue – it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album (and there are many to choose from).

We return to pulsating action territory in “To the Chariot”, which features a fugue of a different kind (not advertised in the title this time), very reminiscent of John Williams around the time of The Phantom Menace.  After an interesting suspense piece, “Smith / The Forest”, notable for its use of voices, we come to one of the best action tracks, “Dump the Fuel”, a terrific piece which at times reminds me of the raw excitement heard in the early scores of James Horner (and when the Williams theme appears it’s a real crowd-pleasing moment).

An interlude of calmer material follows: “Flowers / Father and Son” is rich, warm, beautiful and full of emotion, the second half dominated by the most delicate, lovely piano solo; then after an unexpectedly dramatic conclusion “Waterfall” is truly gorgeous, full-on Legends of the Fall-style sweeping music in its opening minute.  It’s a shame really that the demands of the scene led to the piece leading up to a rather dark period of suspense (if one day the composer gets the chance to adapt his music for a concert suite or something I hope he takes the opportunity to extend that glorious minute’s material into something longer).  Another wonderful piece follows, “Illumination”, again with soaring, romantic strings with choral accompaniment opening it up before it moves into more ethereal territory (a little like Thomas Newman).

“Maureen at Work” is a brief action piece, moving from fairly playful to anything-but-playful; then “Maureen Flies” is a very modern piece, in contrast to much of what’s around it, with a new age feel (despite being so different, it’s very good so its inclusion is welcome).  Back to business is “Race the Minefield”, a complex and deeply satisfying piece of action music with some dynamic, thunderous writing for strings and brass.

You can be fairly sure what you’re going to get from a piece called “Ultimate Sacrifice”, and indeed that’s what you get – a tender piano theme full of nobility opens the cue, before strings and winds start tugging at the heartstrings.  Then “Here We Go” takes us back into full-blooded action territory with some thunderous writing and lots of appearances by the Williams theme, before perhaps the most emotional cue of all, “Saying Goodbye”, which features a gloriously sweeping arrangement of Lennertz’s main theme.  There’s time for one last action extravaganza in “Alien Ship”, an aggressive track which features some strident, powerful dramatic gestures.  “The Resolute” is at first an optimistic, feel-good piece before more than a touch of terror engulfs proceedings; then the album concludes with the rousing end title.

This is first-rate big, orchestral space fantasy music, the kind we don’t really get any more (and I’m not sure we’ve ever really got on television).  Contrast it to the music in Star Trek: Discovery and they’re chalk and cheese – credit to the showrunners for allowing such big, robust music – and even more credit to Christopher Lennertz for writing it so well.  If you bemoan the fact that nobody’s writing music like Independence Day or indeed Bruce Broughton’s Lost in Space any more… well, here it is.

Rating: **** 1/2 | |

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  1. Drew (Reply) on Tuesday 24 July, 2018 at 14:19

    I adore this score. Thanks for such a thoughtful and positive review.