TV Review: Race to Mars

The red planet is so close we can almost taste it. Probes, landers and robots extend our reach into its exotic terrain. To tease us even more, Discovery Channel is running the show ‘Race to Mars’. In it, people take the first footfall onto the Martian surface.

Succinctly blending space opera with the trials of experienced at the Devon Island analogue, the producers of this television show demonstrate the beauty, challenges and rewards of sending people to explore the Martian surface. A spacecraft tumbling through space catapults the audience into inter-planetary transit. The craft gliding soundlessly through its orbit above the Martian surface readies us for the crescendo of landing. Determination and destiny guide the occupants as would only happen for the thoroughly committed.

Within this vessel, six people from many nations represent an harmonious humanity of Earth in 2029. Three preceding craft brought infrastructure and support to the fourth planet of our solar system. Thus, for this show, all is in place for a simple and easy voyage and arrival. Yet, as to be expected with the real event, and this documentary, stuff happens. Machinery fails, tempers flare, and a whole new climate plays upon the senses of the new arrivals. The voyage, as incredible as it is on its own, is just part of the show’s offerings.

But, this show is listed as a documentary. Hence, as no ones visited Mars, at least yet there is room for conjecture. Nevertheless, it’s obvious much homework’s been done. A false gravity, self aware computer system and transmission time delays make the sets and events seem immediate and real. We, the audience, watch over the explorers’ shoulders as footfalls strike the surface, romance sparks and harm strikes. With this being a television show, such additions are necessary but they add rather than detract from the believability.

And this ring of truth is what makes this show so watchable. We expect and need drama. We appreciate the science and engineering challenges. We believe in the undertaking. Mars is an appropriate destination and we can strive for it. The show ‘Race to Mars’ is one more contribution to helping point the way. Next week’s conclusion won’t come soon enough and the ending of this show will come all too soon.

The show is currently broadcast on the Discovery Channel in Canada, but it will likely make its way into other markets soon enough.

Visit the Race to Mars site.