Bill Mumy, who originated the role of child prodigy Will Robinson in the 1960s television series, returns for a crucial cameo in Netflix's reimagining as ... Dr. Smith. That is, the actual physician whose identity Parker Posey's mysterious characters steals when she takes his jacket while aboard the damaged The Resolute, the massive ship ferrying colonists to Alpha Centuari.
Mumy appears only briefly in the chaotic closing moments of the premiere episode, and it's possible viewers may not initially recognize him. However, he crops up again twice in subsequent episodes, in photographs, allowing recognition to finally set in.
The name of Don West's fellow mechanic aboard The Resolute is a deep cut. Played by AnnaMaria Demara, Tam Soderquist takes her name from two sources: The first is the Gold Key Comics series Space Family Robinson, which actually predates the original Lost in Space by a few years. In the long-running sci-fi comic, scientists Craig and June Robinson live with their teen children Tim and Tam aboard Space Station One, which is hurled far from Earth by a cosmic storm. Both works were loosely based on the 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson, about a family shipwrecked in the East Indies.
The character's surname, Soderquist, is actually a tribute to original Judy Robinson actress Marta Kristen, who was born Birgit Annalisa Rusanen in Norway and then adopted as a child by the Soderquists, an American couple.
The Jupiter 18 carrying Don West (Ignacio Serricchio), Tam Soderquist and Dr. Smith crashes on the planet's surface, only to reveal another passenger: a little red hen that, for all of Don's bluster, he refuses to leave behind. (Presumably there are other animals aboard some of the other Jupiters, but we don't see them.) Naming her Debbie, Don places the chicken securely within his backpack, and sets off with Dr. Smith in search of more surviving colonists.
The hen's name is a nod to Debbie the Bloop, the chimpanzee-like alien creature from the 1965 Lost in Space discovered by Don in the Season 1 episode "Island in the Sky," and given to Penny Robinson as a pet. Referred to as "the Bloop" because of the only sound she made, the original Debbie was played by Judy the chimpanzee of Daktari fame, wearing a headpiece.
'Dr. Smith's' Real Name
Willing to go to almost any lengths to ensure her own survival, Parker Posey's character is a liar and manipulator whose backstory slowly unfolds over the course of Lost in Space's first season. Although the audience is aware she's not actually Dr. Smith, but merely someone with a shady past who assumed his identity, the realization that this seemingly caring psychiatrist isn't what she appears comes more slowly to the marooned colonists.
As her past and motivations come into focus, we also learn "Dr. Smith's" real name: June Harris, an homage to two of the stars of the classic Lost in Space, June Lockhart, who played Dr. Maureen Robinson, and the late Jonathan Harris, who portrayed Dr. Zachary Smith.
Steaming now on Netflix, the 10-episode first season of Lost in Space stars Toby Stephens, Molly Parker, Maxwell Jenkins, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, Ignacio Serricchio and Parker Posey.