Add a Review

  • New to DVD, you can find the complete series set of this fun family adventure series at your local Best Buy. Based on the classic novel, Richard Thomas (John Boy of The Waltons) heads a cast of unknowns in this castaway adventure, playing the patriarch to the Robinson clan as they struggle to survive pirates, wildlife, weather, disease and each other on their mysterious island. Their adventures are simple enough yet fun to watch. It's obvious that the show was made on a low budget for syndication purposes, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment. If anything, I found it enhanced the viewing as kind of a pure guilty pleasure. Basically, it's good wholesome family entertainment, just don't look for Shakespeare here.

    The only other actor American audiences might recognize is Kieren Hutchison, who plays oldest son Ernst. Hutchison had a recurring guest role on One Tree Hill as the Australian boyfriend to the mother of Chad Michael Murray's character. However, my favorite character ended up being Ben, played by Gareth Howells, the reluctant accomplice of the series' main villain. I found myself really falling in love with this lost soul, who is caught between following the wrong path while longing to do what's right. Howells was a revelation, and I hope to see him in other productions in the future.

    The show plays out in ten separate story arcs of three episodes each, for a total of 30 episodes, and wraps up nicely in the end. Not sure if that was planned from the start, but appreciated it for its nice overall story. Oh, and the settings are absolutely breath-taking. I'd love to be trapped on this island with the Robinsons...

    -Dane Hill
  • I feel i must reply to the most recent review of this calling it totally unimaginative. Personally i felt that this version of the book was a good adaptation and original in the fact that it was set out over 30 episodes (by the way all 30 episodes are featured on the DVD albeit there are 10 parts with each set over 3 25 minute episodes. Okay lets get one thing very clear this wasn't ever going to win an EMMY but then its aimed at a family TV audience. While i accept some of the accents are poor especially the Children's accents i don't think the acting is any worse than some of the stuff that is produced in North America some of the TV movies produced there are awful. In many respects it was interesting to find out how a family used to the comforts of civilisation would cope if they became marooned on a desert island and while it is unlikely that in a real situation they would come across all the things that happen to them it is still good viewing and i feel that Richard Thomas gives a good performance as David Thomas as does Margo Gunn as his wife Elizabeth and the chemistry between them seems genuine. There are also good performances from Charlotte Woolams as Joanna and Gareth Howells as Ben. While KC Kelly and Jeffrey Thomas ham it up as the villains of the piece.

    I have watched this on DVD a number of times and i still enjoy watching it and while some may find it slightly naive it does teach us the importance of family and working together when the going gets tough in order to survive.
  • How do you survive on a deserted island when you're used to being served? That's what this series is all about. It takes us to a normal family in Boston many years ago. Back then in Boston people aren't equal. All people have their certain place and it has to stay that way, but once the family is shipwrecked and has to fight for their lives all the rules seem to change and even disappear. They develop friendships with people who are less important than them according to Boston's standards, they have adventures, survive illnesses, find love and have experiences that changes them forever. The series is sometimes a bit naive and moralistic but in the end it has a few lessons that some people seem to forget: love and friendship stand way above all society's rules and standards. It is that lesson that made me love watching this series. It's great for children, but I'm sure some of the older members of the family will enjoy watching this too!
  • If you like the Walton's and Little House on the Prairie you will really enjoy this epic. I couldn't help but root for it- and have to give it an "A" for effort because it's clear everyone is really giving their all to this production. Anyone complaining about the authenticity of the story isn't aware of its origin, which defied logic far more than this particular adaptation. The Swiss Family Robinson was never meant to be anything but an allegory and because of that it lends itself to being adapted to whatever the morals of the day happen to be. Earlier versions are unbearably classist and downright cruel in comparison. The Robinson's were colonists dominating this "new world" they inhabit. 20 years after it was made its clear this late 90s PC version is trying to redeem its own history and make sense of that colonial past. You won't find these Robinson's finishing a baby monkeys mother, taking the baby and then feeding it foods they suspect to be poisonous. Instead you have them adopting a young slave boy and freeing him (so he can act as their personal servant.) This is an inherently problematic story that's always going to seem outdated in hindsight. That's what makes it valuable and telling and should absolutely be viewed with a critical eye and historical perspective.

    Seriousness aside this could almost have been directed by John Waters. The acting is inconsistent but 100% committed. It's a mix of professionals and amateurs but all the actors are giving it everything they have. I blame the wooden script more than them- but overall The beautiful location and a good sense of humor on the part of the viewer makes up for the low production value. If you enjoy survival stories, family dramas with a wrong/strong moral code or content you can watch with your kids or classroom and discuss, this might just be for you- just be ready to forgive the inconsistency and moral relevancy. Or at least see beyond it. This show screams Sunday night public access television. With 30 episodes it's not a quick watch- but you may be surprised how much you end up enjoying it if you give it a chance. That said? I'd you can't get through the first few episodes I'd move on to something else. If you're willing to put reason aside and jump the shark with this show it has the potential to be endlessly endearing. The fact that it's problematic is part of its charm- as well as it's legacy.
  • New Zealand TV series, and the accents are pretty noticeable. JUST AWFUL!!!!! Poor acting. Richard Thomas is so miscast and very poor. While Kieran is nice to look at, he seems out of place in this century....more of a today type of guy. Put him in something modern, and watch Brad Pitt quiver. Terrible writing, without even one original idea. Many stock shots (like crabs crawling on the sand) are used over and over again. Even the pirate boat and launch look as though they could have been bought at Sears a few weeks ago. They made 30 episodes of this thing, but fortunately chose only to release 10 of them on video, including the very 1st episode and the last 2 episodes. Lots of rational ideas for today are totally out of place set in this time period.
  • Johann Wyss' original "Swiss Family Robinson" (1812) has been so popular that many have copied it in whole or in part over the decades. That includes a number of movies and TV productions. But I don't think there's been a single video story that has followed the family cast as Wyss wrote it – a father, a mother and four sons. That's curious, because I think the original book cast would make the adventures quite interesting. We can reflect on films made about Mark Twain stories as examples – Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

    This TV series from 1998 has some of the original premise about a shipwrecked family, and a protagonist bad man from the shipwreck. But the similarities end there. Perhaps the addition of two daughters and elimination of two of the sons was meant to build more interest for female viewers. I don't object to an all new family, but then the cast should be very good and the script excellent. Unfortunately, this series doesn't have very good acting at all – Richard Thomas included. And the script and direction are quite poor.

    In spite of the outdoors scenery and shooting, this series still had a stagy sense about it. As another review commented, I also had a DVD with just a few of the episodes. It was supposed to be 30 installments of half an hour (more like fewer than 25 minutes with commercials and recaps of previous episodes). But, some of the descriptions of those episodes make me wonder if they ever were produced. It seems that the series was dropped before the end of its first season run – or for sure by the end of that season. My guess is that it didn't go over very well. Has there ever been a film in the past in which the natives were so beefy? They might at least have tried to find some slim, muscular men to play the parts of the island natives.

    The original story was a very entertaining piece of fiction – along the lines of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "Journey to the Center of the Earth," and similar stories that combine adventure with a little science-fiction. I think this would be a good story to recreate as originally written with a first-rate cast and some of the unusual, fictitious plants and creatures.

    This TV series was made as a family program, but I think it would soon put the older family members to sleep, and the younger ones would soon drift away from the TV to play games or do homework.