French tv series in an unusual 30-minute format comprising of ten episodes, and unfortunately it ends teasing a second season so doesn’t really have anything near a satisfactory conclusion. Which is doubly infuriating as it offers lots of stupid mysteries and then gets away without offering any decent answers.
The stupidity of the writing is what really nails it though. I don’t know how anyone could stomach this nonsense without shouting at the screen; the characters and the coincidences and the plot-twists are so infuriating- really, this kind of rubbish makes me rather furious. A bad Dr Who episode is usually more scientifically accurate (and sensical) than this. And did I not yet mention that this rubbish has, officially, the Worst Spacesuits Ever?
So anyway, here’s the story: A European manned mission to Mars (there’s the first gap in logic) approaches the red planet and they are summoned to a meeting to be told that, actually, they aren’t the first to land on Mars, the Americans at NASA have just beaten them to it. Gosh, boo, hiss from our motley crew. But actually there’s another twist- NASA has lost contact with this American expedition that somehow escaped ESA notice so now this is a rescue mission. Now, I don’t know intricate details of inter-planetary trajectory or orbital insertions, but just because you arrive in Mars orbit it doesn’t strictly infer you can just pop down wherever you like. If your landing target was the Acidalia Planitia I doubt you’re going to be able to redirect to the Terra Cimmeria without some kind of flight path change midway to the planet. Anyway, forget that science nonsense.
So our heroes decide to go down and save the day, although, wouldn’t you know it, during the trip down the decent module has a fault and cannot detach from the main ship so the captain has to go out and manually detach the ship and perishes in the attempt. So no leader! Much squabbling ensues, especially when they land without enough fuel to take off again and a ship computer that is on the blink (and life support fried). Oh, and the interior sets do not in any way match top the CGI ship exterior, at all. I mean, they ‘show’ members of the crew getting into the airlock from the interior but not where this airlock is on the exterior, because the sets do, er, not match the CGI ship.
Even if this turkey had any fuel, how, exactly, would it lift off?
So anyway, they get to the American landing-site and its a wreck. As if NASA satellites in orbit couldn’t have told everybody that. There are no survivors. Except one, but he’s not American- he’s Vladimir Komarov, a Russian cosmonaut who died during re-entry to Earth during a Soviet mission back in 1967. Well, isn’t that strange. What a mystery that he’s alive decades later, and on Mars no less. It just so happens that the last-minute replacement psychologist in the crew now has flashbacks to her childhood, and her astronomy-hobbyist father who considered Komarov to be his hero. Mere coincidence? We’ll return to this a paragraph later.
Meanwhile ANOTHER ship lands on the red planet. Human expeditions to Mars are like buses, it seems, you wait millions of years and then three turn up at once. This one, however, is another American expedition but financed by a billionaire philanthropist searching for immortality because he’s a Rich Bastard With A Terminal Illness (somehow Mars is the key to living forever, although its never explained exactly why or how this logic has been arrived at). This guy is more Eldon Tyrell than Elon Musk, so this crew has gun-happy goons on board and they throw their weight around, threatening to shoot dead the ESA folk. The lead woman on this crew of gun-totting goons though is the ex-girlfriend of the billionaire philanthropist who has financed/hitched a ride on the ESA mission. No, really, I’m not making this up. Maybe if our bearded rich guy apologizes for his romantic failure she might have a change of heart and betray the Rich Bastard With A Terminal Illness back on Earth? How very French.
So back to our pretty psychologist who now has special significance according to the enigmatic Komarov who, wait for it, may not be human. It then transpires that she was chosen for the mission because photographs of the Martian topography/landscape perfectly matched photographs of her face! Either that means the Martian landscape is pretty or she’s as ugly as a Martian rock. Anyway, when you see a woman’s face in Martian landscape photographs she clearly has to be put on a mission to Mars.
She is some kind of Chosen One and nobody told her until they dumped her on Mars. Anguished flashbacks to her father being ill. A trip to a Martian pyramid. The terminally-ill billionaire back on Earth decides if he can’t get his cretins on Mars to bring Komarov to him, he’ll get the next flight to Mars and do it himself (I had no idea missions to Mars were that easy to organise or so quick a trip). Somehow this all ties in with some Alien Intelligence which the scriptwriters confuse with Artificial Intelligence because now Mars/Komarov has taken over the ESA computer and their ship is now sentient and there is some twist that the Martians are all ancient (ha, ha! More initials- Ancient Intelligence!) and died out long ago except for -gasp!- the ones who flew to Earth to populate that world. Wait, what? Do you mean— WE are the Martians?
I’ll stop now. Hopefully that is more than enough to banish this hellish nonsense to the ‘AVOID’ pile. To be fair, some of the music sounds alright.
Did I mention it features the Worst Spacesuits Ever?