Reviews: National Geographic's Mars - Episode 1 - Novo Mundo

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As mankind's race to Mars begins to heat up, so do the science based tales about the way we're going to finally get there. With our sights set on humankind beginning the run up to our eventual colonization of another planet, entertainment begins to capture how the science will evolve and how men like Elon Musk and his SpaceX team will be a defining factor in our eventual manned landing on the red planet. National Geographic's Mars series is half documentary style/half fictional take on the mission to Mars. While it may throw some for a loop with its unique spin on storytelling, it's a halfway decent show that presents a semi-realistic story a team of astronauts sent into the unknown as they sacrifice their lives to finally begin the transition to a new life on Mars. 

Split between 2016 and 2033, the show has two different timelines. The 2016 segments spend time with the real life scientists that are planning a mission to Mars. The second, 2033, is the fictionalized story of the interplanetary explorers that are willing to put everything on the line in the hopes of continuing man's existence as a multi-planet species. While I really wanted to like the science fiction aspects of the show, they seem to be going down the familiar path of most other genre entries. Nothing ever goes right. Things break constantly. People get hurt. The mission seems doomed due to a never ending barrage of mishaps and poor planning. The times we get to spend with Elon Musk and other real life scientists is far more interesting than the 2033 timeline. 

national geographic
Look at us. We're all lined up for Negan. Eenie meenie.......wait. Wrong show. 

Most fans of sci-fi will definitely find some things to like about the show. Considering the lower budget, the graphics work doesn't look too bad. But again, the documentary style footage they use of SpaceX's testing programs, mission failures, and real settings are the best part of episode 1. In fact, I would love to see a series dedicated just to SpaceX and Musk's ideas about the future of space travel. It would be counter productive to bash on something that Nat Geo produced because movies aren't their game, but the reliance on Hollywood space tropes and disaster scenarios gets old really fast. If we're watching something produced by them, a reliance on hard science and fact would make this much better. Again, this isn't the worst thing ever, but I expected more. 

The sets and costume design are practically identical to what we saw in The Martian. And the storyline that's unfolding already shows too many similarities to the aforementioned Matt Damon movie. It's good enough to finish another 5 episodes, but it will just be a casual watch. If they throw in some more Neil deGrasse Tyson, I really won't be offended. His personality and scientific code is always worth the watch. 

Get your ass to Mars but don't expect too much.