Last Sunday National Geographic broadcasted the first episode of six part miniseries Mars. Mars is part drama/adventure/Sci Fi and part documentary. They call it a scripted-documentary hybrid (whatever the heck that means). About half consists of interview with people trying to get us to the Red Planet. The other half takes place in 2033. It is essentially a fictionalized preview of the first human mission to Mars. Question is: is it any good?
Let’s not beat around the bush. There is a lot not to like about this production of National Geographic. Casting and acting are not what we are used to. If you compare the drama parts Mars with what you are used to seeing in the average Netflix or HBO series, you will be disappointed. Also, story wise it’s terrible. Cardboard characters, totally predictable, and completely cheesy. For instance, mission commander Ben Sawyer asks his crew whether they are really ready to risk their lives for this mission. Seventeen seconds before launch. And, why would the mission commander, who commands a five person crew, be the one to fix a piece of malfunctioning equipment 2 minutes before launch. Come on!
But if you are able to put these annoyances aside, you can start dreaming. Realistically dreaming, if that makes sense. The interviews are with people who are actually making it happen. They are the ones breaking down the barriers that prevents us from going to the Red Planet. Or any other place in our Solar System. Hearing them talk is nothing short of inspirational. You’ll see interviews with engineers, scientists, and off course SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, astrophysics’ celebrity scientist.
By the way. Mars is based on the book “How we’ll live on Mars” by Steven Petranek. A fascinated read if your find yourself wanting more after watching National Geographic’s take on the subject. Also, be sure to check out his TED talk.
To sum up: Mars is combination of cheap, sub-par Sci Fi and an inspiring documentary. I think i’ll give it another shot. What do you think?