Debuting on National Geographic Channel on November 14, Mars is an ambitious effort that never really achieves liftoff. A hybrid of 2016-set documentary and 2033-set drama of a manned trip to the Red Planet and the technology needed to get there, the six-part series executive produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer lumbers when it should leap to the stars.
As I say in my video review above, the Imagine Entertainment- and Radical Media-produced effort can be fascinating when it sticks to the real-life science and a whole lot of NASA. Lining up interviews with the likes of Jet Propulsion Lab Project System Engineer Jennifer Trosper, Space X’s Elon Musk (who gets a lot of love here) and the ever-quotable Neil DeGrasse Tyson, you see how near the future is. The attention to detail about the requirements of such space travel and setting up a colony once the astronauts arrive are impressive, too.
Grounding such a journey to the facts and the possible shouldn’t steal the excitement from the effort – even if you take some dramatic license. But in trying to meld two genres, Mars has infected itself, to make homage to The War of the Worlds. The result is the not-that-dramatic drama of the multinational crew of the Daedalus buries much of the series under pounds of distraction.
Check out my video review above for more of my take on Mars and why you might want to miss this trip. In fact, you can watch the first episode online now as Nat Geo has posted it. Then tell us what you think.