Thus far in his career, Mike Erwin has been most widely recognized as "the guy in the coma" on Everwood. But that will soon change, if WB's Lost in Space pilot takes off: The 25-year-old has been cast as the proposed remake's major hottie, Maj. Don West. "I actually get to play a cool character for once," he tells TV Guide Online enthusiastically. "I'm totally excited.

"[Buffy the Vampire Slayer grad] Doug Petrie is the writer, and he and I have a great relationship," he continues. "He even opened the door to allow me to create some of my character's choices. He wanted my input; that's really rare."

Although the actor bought the whole series on DVD to research his role, "I don't think we're going to be anything like the old one was," he says. However, he hopes that version 2.0 has at least one thing in common with its forebear: a family audience. "We're thinking maybe we can bring in [the buzz that] Star Trek did when it first came out."

After his appearance last weekend in the Lifetime movie She's Too Young — in which he gave Marcia Gay Harden's daughter VD — Erwin may need a hit to reestablish his leading-man image. "It's not [as bad as] doing a herpes commercial," he insists with a laugh, then, realizing how often the cable network reruns its flicks, adds, "I guess I'm just going to be known as 'the guy with syphillis' now. It happens."