Monday, November 14, 2016

National Geographic’s ‘MARS’ is Quite a Trip

A scene from MARS
Are you ready to go to MARS? (National Geographic Channel)
TV SHOW REVIEW
Tonight, National Geographic Channel launches a trip of a lifetime in the form of a six-week limited series simply called MARS. It’s half documentary and half made-for-TV-movie but it is wholly inspirational. MARS is produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, so this isn’t just little thing that the network threw together.

Each episode gives an insight on how traveling to and living on Mars could be some day. The fictional story takes place in the year of 2033 where six leading astronauts from around the world have come together for this historic occasion. The members include: American mission commander Ben Sawyer (Ben Cotton), Korean-American mission pilot Hana Seung (JiHAE), Spanish hydrologist and geochemist Javier Delgado (Alberto Ammann), French mission physician and biochemist Amelie Durand (Clémentine Poidatz), Nigerian mechanical engineer and roboticist Robert Foucault (Sammi Rotibi) and Russian exobiologist and geologist Marta Kamen (Anamaria Marinc).

JiHAE plays double duty in Mars in that in addition to playing pilot Hana Seung, she will also play her twin sister Joon working at the Mars Mission Corporation which is set up in London.



A scene from MARS
(National Geographic Channel)
The documentary portion of the show will focus on Mars history and current achievements making the world ready to visit the red planet someday. A variety of top space experts (over 20 '"big thinkers") are featured to give their two cents worth of wisdom regarding space travel.

I was given the change to preview the show’s first two episodes and was immediate drawn in. This is a project that anything can go wrong, and apparently, this crew gets faced with some of the worst. Though the entire story is built on speculation, it still feels very real and plausible. Tonight’s pilot episode is actually a lot better than the second episode which is a lot more “talky” and less action oriented. Both episodes are good, but the second one drags the story down a bit.

A scene from MARS
(National Geographic Channel)
Last year the channel presented the miniseries, Saints and Strangers about the first pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower. It too was well done, but Mars may keep your attention better in that the main story is fiction, so you don’t know what is going to happen next. It’s like watching your favorite space movie that takes time out to tell you what exactly is going on and how plausible each scene is based on current technology.

National Geographic has said that filmmaker Everardo Gout was “hand-picked” by Grazer and Howard to direct all six episodes which were all filmed in Budapest and Morocco. Also, it is worth mention for fans to visit MakesMarsHome.com where you create own space team of six and watch mini films in the prequel series Before MARS.

MARS premieres on Monday, November 14, on the National Geographic Channel as well as Nat Geo Mundo at 9/8c. It will also broadcast internationally in 170 countries and in 45 languages with a premiere date of Sunday, November 13.