The National Geographic channel rarely misses an opportunity to educate the public on recent science and research-related findings. However, the behind their newest “Mars” miniseries are interesting, but based on a tired idea. For a channel made famous for their documentaries and dramatizations, “Mars” attempts to blend the facts behind NASA’s Mars attempts with the fiction of a backstory set in the year 2033. However, with fact overtaking fiction, where does “Mars” fit into the spectrum?

 

The direction that “Mars” takes is unconventional, especially for a production on a channel that values scientific fact over fictional series. Seamlessly blending these dueling concepts is a quality often sought after in a Hollywood that rarely gets it right. However, tipping the scale to favor one over the other can often produce unfavorable results rather than intelligent debate. As is often the case for a science-based network, the scale noticeably tips toward reality over fiction. Although science in fan favorites like “The Martian” or the “Star Wars” franchise may not be as genuine or experimentally proven as in “Mars,” they succeed in plot and storytelling, an area in which Mars needs improvement.

 

The premise of “Mars” entertains the idea of a human settlement on the infamous red planet, detailing the dangers and struggles that comes with exploration of the unknown. Although ambitious, “Mars” ’s plot noticeably lacks material of any real substance. Even though a continuous B-roll does provide the audience a special look into NASA’s recent undertakings and cites interviews with program directors, the shift between fictional storytelling and actual interviews act more as a distraction than supplemental material.

 
Though one could look at the slow pace of “Mars” as a reprieve from the archetypical sci-fi space mission, the lack of any intercharacter chemistry does not bode well for the new miniseries. The attention to detail is admirable, but without any chemistry, the series is likely to take a fatal blow to viewership.
 
When the scenes that take place on the planet of the series’ namesake finally appear, there is a stunning lack of quality — as if the budget was far surpassed on B-roll alone. Though aesthetically pleasing, there is an element missing in the dramatization section of the episode which, if not worked on, will certainly spell doom for the Daedalus crew. The already blurred line between fact and fiction exponentially increases as the episode progresses, taking the concentration of its followers out of this world. In addition, the running time of the episode is punctuated by multiple interviews with big names, such as Elon Musk of the “Space X” project, making the series feels broken without anything concrete to tie these concepts together. If it weren’t for Musk’s namesake, one would find it difficult to distinguish the line between actual and mock interviews.

 

At times, though, the interviews fittingly shift between the happenings on the shuttle to the present because errors predicted in 2016 occur during the Daedalus mission. But interconnectedness is everything and “Mars” is most certainly a distance away from perfection. While it’s certainly ambitious of “Mars” to attempt to find harmony between a documentary and drama series, the meshing between the two ultimately fails to lift off.

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