Monday 2 January 2017

You look as beautiful as the day we first did it on the sink

Watching National Geographic's rather dry MARS, and boy, it sure does have a bit of a boner for this idea that corporate investment will be humanity's salvation in the arena of interplanetary enterprises.
Don't get me wrong, that's all well and good if you're making cheesy fantasy tosh where stuff is explained by wizards or technobabble, but the show's mix of drama and documentary vignettes seems to suggest a striving towards a more fact-based slant on the matter, so an examination of where culpability lies for the shrinking of the programme over the last couple of decades despite a still-considerable investment of taxpayer dosh seems a bit of an odd thread to omit from the fact-umentary tapestry it seems to be weaving.  Perhaps I am being too harsh, and later episodes shall explore the role of corporate America in the downfall of human space exploration, but based on the first two episodes, it doesn't have much to say about the matter and prefers to suggest that the opposite is true: that the people who have throttled humanity's ambitions towards extraplanetary expansion so they could cash in are actually a good thing because at some point one of them might actually decide to invest some of that cash in something other than renting access to rockets that the Russians were ready to throw on the garbage heap three decades ago.  If I were a betting man, however, I'd be putting my money on the show just showing some pictures of Challenger exploding while sad music plays and then leaving it at that, as based on the first episode, they seem to just hand-wave things away with a wistful "oh some billionaire came along and gave us all the money we needed to build a rocket" and that's all the world-building we get.
I apologise for banging on about the capitalism of the space programme, but it's the one thing - even more than the creation of new technologies - that stands in the way of getting off this increasingly-disappointing mudball, so if they're going to come up with a plausible explanation for anything, it would have to be this.
Of other matters, there's an otherworldlyness to Mars, and I don't mean in the "it is literally another world" way of the setting, I mean in the "I don't think English is the first language of whoever wrote this" kind of way of the actual production.  Nothing seems to gel with anything else, and the first episode especially seems to be an incredibly odd mix of sinister and whimsical, often seeming to be a clumsy build-up to the sight of a dead child struck down at the hand of their own curiosity.  It looks beautiful, but I have no idea what it's aiming for, so cannot judge if it has hit the mark.
Mars is a bit of an odd duck.

No comments:

Post a Comment