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Mars - Season 1 [Blu-ray]
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Six-part docudrama from executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer in collaboration with National Geographic. Mixing real interview footage with a fictionalised narrative, the story begins in the year 2033 as six astronauts prepare to be the first people to successfully land on Mars. As they descend onto the red planet, a failure in their spacecraft's guidance system sees them land off course with the land they planned to call home still 75.3 kilometres away. The episodes are: 'Novo Mundo', 'Grounded', 'Pressure Drop', 'Power', 'Darkest Days' and 'Crossroads'.
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I like the way they are shifting between fiction and science all the time.
They talk with for example Elon Musk or Mark Zubrin and many more about getting to Mars, and the difficulties they must over come.
The sound track is also good.
Even those who don't remember the moon landings have had the subject of space travel brought front and center for them by the recent slew of films about journeys to Mars, life on Mars and abandoning Mars: 'The Martian', 'Mission to Mars' & 'Last Days on Mars'. They are, of course, all pure fiction as, at this time, we have no firm idea whether such a venture is viable.
In six episodes, 'Mars: Series 1' attempts to answer this very question of viability with a novel docudrama mix of fiction and documentary. Each of these six episodes features an ongoing piece of fiction set in 2033: landing, setting up shop, surviving storms and setbacks etc. The scripted fiction portion of the episode is intercut with interviews with real life people today who are actually working on developing stuff that may one day enable that very Mars journey.
So, in the first episode we see the landing, how it goes wrong and how it's fixed. Mixed in with this scripted drama is interview material with Elon Musk of SpaceX who are currently trying to develop a reusable rocket that will take man to Mars.
Each episode follows the same format. The idea is to challenge fantasy and confront it with fact. The news is mixed. I'm not sure that I'd chance it myself on the basis of 'Mars Series 1'. But the show does pose an interesting question about the reasons for space travel stated very explicitly in the series' strap line, "We went to the Moon because we wanted to. We went to Mars because we had to." Has the recent election of a climate change-denying government official in America made our need to develop planet-escaping technology more pressing?
For those who think it does, this show is timely. In a non-condescending, non-preachy way, it does set out the human and technical challenges. The scripted fiction element is excellent although a little hobbled by having to be larded up with a lot of technical stuff to make it sit more easily with the hard-core engineering and scientific accounts in the documentary bits. The show is executive produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer who together produced the truly excellent 'Apollo 13'. 6 one hour episodes. 5 stars for a daring new format.
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