Race to Mars George Mihalka

Race to Mars George Mihalka
Notable more so for its speculative qualities on possible plights during a sojourn to Mars than its narrative successes, the Discovery Channel's four-part miniseries Race to Mars is more intriguing and informative than it is compelling or entertaining. Having aired back in 2007, it comes to DVD a little late in the game, but acts as a companion piece to the slightly more polished six-part documentary series Mars Rising, which elaborates on many of the issues raised in this overly prosaic tale, and similarly comes to DVD with no special features. Rather than focusing on the preparation involved in the two-year journey, the miniseries starts with a six-person crew on mission, each introduced with title cards to point out the captain (Michael Riley), the doctor (Claudia Ferri) and so on. Essentially, each character is an archetype, with Mikhail (Frank Schorpion), the Russian, waxing stubborn and Antoine (Lothaire Bluteau) being a condescending dick. And because the series is written like a children's show, with conversations structured specifically around broad issues and conjecture about failing circuit boards, it all comes off as wooden, clunky and distinctly Canadian. That said, the program is more about theories and possible roadblocks on a mission of this magnitude, which is handled well, raising issues about mould, conflict, ship malfunctions and drilling problems. Unfortunately, there's some pap about building a new world without borders tossed in for idealistic communist measure, which detracts from the integrity of the mostly professional presentation, but it could be worse ― they could have found an alien diorama on the surface of the red planet. As far as "edutainment" goes, however, this thoughtful program is better than most, and covers all of its bases effectively. It's just a shame that they didn't put any effort into writing fluid dialogue or creating characters with a little bit of depth. (E1)