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i was part of the cast of Space Odyssey, playing FIDO in mission control. i just want to say that none of us actors, specially those in mission control who had to react to a green screen most of the time, had any idea how amazing it would turn out to be. i knew it was going to be good, if only for the sheer camaraderie and professionalism that the production team at Impossible Pictures provided for everyone involved. but when we all saw it for the first time at the screening at the Curzon Mayfair, well, i for one felt very proud. I was so glad that none of us looked like we were in Star Trek. Joe Aherne, the screenwriter and director, is the most amazing man to work for. He pretty much gets a good team together and then just trusts them implicitly to freely do what they do best. I'm really lucky to have been part of this show. Who knew something this epic and complicated to understand would turn out to be so enticing to watch. and my god it's a beautiful universe out there.
...programs I have seen on TV in many years.
As far as I can tell, they really did get everything right. I have been interested in astronomy and the Solar system for some years and the scientific information in the program, such as surface conditions on Venus and Mars, the volcanic activity of Io, and magnetic fields of Jupiter, all seems very convincing. There's a lot of education in this show and it gives the layman the best possible feel as to what the solar system is really like.
The factual element combined with the excellent drama makes for a great show. The acting is first rate. So much so they don't really appear to be acting at all. It could easily be a fly-on-the-wall documentary. You get to care about the characters.
I can't rate this highly enough. Truly wonderful. Worth the price of a big TV even if this is the only show you ever watch!
Despite missing the first episode and having to frantically find out
when the repeat was on, I was not disappointed having to wait a little
longer to see this mini-series on viable space exploration today or in
the near future.
As with the BBC's other "Walking With...", "Seven Wonders Of The Industrial World" series and [i]Space[/i] ("Hyperspace" to US viewers), this is a well scripted, CGI and fact filled venture played out to the tune of a fictional mission to visit the major planets of our solar system: Sol.
From visiting Mars to a slingshot manoeuvre around the Sun and a tricky landing on a passing comet, this highlights what information we could well be finding if an international effort to make such a mission comes about.
I hope this comes out on DVD (and not limited to, say, Australian DVD as with the equally amazing "Seven Wonders Of The Industrial World") as the accompanying book cannot do full justice to what a great insight this two-parter is to our corner of the universe. I'm certain beginners in astronomy and experts in the field will find this an enjoyable feature. The music by Don Davis (as with the previous mentioned series) is ideally epic and moving and the screenplay by Joe Ahearne makes the characters believable and adds suspense. This is far from a simple lesson on the planets you'd get at school.
I came across this movie on DVD purely by chance through a Blockbuster
rental. Voyage to the Planets is an excellent BBC 2hour
documentary/drama about a future "grand tour" of the solar system.
Taking pains to adhere to current knowledge about the planets and space
flight, and plausible extropolations from existing technology, this
movie tells the story of astronauts on a journey to Venus, Mars,
Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto.
The special effects are excellent for a TV show. I found the actors believable as astronauts. The situations presented are for the most part plausible, and you learn a lot about the science of the planets and spaceflight! Only two minor complaints: I found some of the situations and dialogue somewhat maudlin at times. Furthermore I am unsure that a single crew and ship would be sent on a single mission to see all those destinations at once time. More than likely, visits to Venus, Mars, Jupiter, etc. would/will be separate missions.
They didn't try to skimp on this show with production values. The scenes of Venus and Mars were actually filmed in the northern deserts of Chile--the driest area on earth and a dead-ringer for the Martian landscape. Weightlessness sequences were filmed in a diving Russian transport jet. The producers could have fudged on either of these using studios and CGI, but chose the real thing instead.
I would like to especially mention the marvelous music that was composed for this movie. Don Davis's thrilling theme is the first thing that grabs you when the movie starts, as the magnificent shot of the Pegasus passes the screen and David Suchet intones "it is the destiny of man to explore the stars...".
Watching this on a small television screen is one regret I have. What a thrill to see this in a movie theatre, or even better an IMAX presentation!
An excellent series, part drama, part documentary. Just a point of information about the communication lag mentioned by a previous poster. They did refer to a communication delay, but of course they edited things out to make the story flow faster. At one point on Mars, mission control detect a huge dust storm the landing crew can't detect yet and warn them with a message "dust storm on its way 6 minutes behind this message" which illustrates the time lag and just to clear up another point made, the lander on the comet isn't automatically controlled from Earth, but by the crew on the Pegasus. As for the Pegasus, it surely must be one of the best spaceships ever designed for a sci-fi show. A cross between the Discovery and the Leonov from the 2001/2010 saga.
The subject of this film has always been of interest to me so I viewed
it both for its scientific, visionary and entertainment value. Every
time a film about space exploration is made, expectations rise as new
image technology enables productions to be more realistic and precise.
The production team succeeded in doing this to the point where, for
someone less aware, the event could have actually been taking place.
The landscapes on the planets, from the hot surfaces of Mercury to the
frozen rocks on Pluto were just as I imagined them. Until recently we
had to use our imaginations based often on artistic impressions
gathered from visual astronomical data. But now that probes like the
Pioneer and Explorer series have actually been close enough to take
real pictures, then what we saw in this film I assume, is close to
I also was glad that Pegasis, the space vehicle, looked realistic and had a crew, it added some drama and again realism. They did not use silly-looking people dressed up in combat uniforms or looking like ex- army drop outs in the crew but members who could have easily been trained astronauts, carefully making sure that both gender and race were included. That is what a international crew would be.
The space walk in Saturn's Rings and the release of the dead astronaut into them was extremely poignant and established the dangers of long term space travel. The hazardous landing on the Comet and the subsequent expelling of black ice from it as turned into the sun, nearly destroying the space vehicle, further demonstrated the dangers. One problem that the film did not deal with was the time delay in signal propagation from Earth control to the space vehicle, although being stated as being many hours it seemed that there was a direct link which is not possible over such vast distances. Earth took control over the space vehicle to move it so its shield blocked the bombardment from the Comet's tail when some members of the crew were injured during the bombardment, thus saving it from destruction but they could not have done that so quickly. This technical issue of transmission time always gives producers of space films a problem and although it did not spoil the film for me, it needs to be addressed if films are to be realistic.
Finally and most importantly, films like this give us a vision of the future - one that is not so far away. It stimulates our imagination and invokes our quest for discovery. Most of the technology and knowledge to make such a journey is available. Reducing the costs and risks to an acceptable level is the challenge that confronts us. Earth is a home but not our prison, a point this film makes very well. Space exploration is there for everybody irrespective of nationality, religion, or culture and ultimately, maybe sooner than we think, we shall make the journey so vividly portrayed in this BBC production.
My main criticism is quite simply that it isn't long enough or detailed
enough. I would have loved to see more of everything: the building of
the vessel, the engineering, the training, the first lift to orbit,
preparations for departure, Venus Orbital Injection, everything. I
would have liked to see more of the first leg, Venus to Earth, instead
of zipping there like a n°10 corporation bus. In fact, I would have
liked to see a series on the scale of Earth Story made of this, with a
full hour dedicated to every planet and maybe another to the loop
around the Sun. As it was, I was left hungry. On the other hand, I do
understand budgets and viewers' attention-spans.
Re the science: Let's be fair about the speed-of-light time-lag: they did mention at the beginning that there was a lag in conversations, but they let this evaporate once they reached the outer planets. Some kind of conversation had to be presented to the viewers, and we have to assume that the lag was edited out for the sake of palatability; so no complaints there. But zero for noisy spaceships. The only film in which spaceships make no noise was Kubrick's 2001, and even then he copped out by using the noise of the crew breathing in their helmets - which *was* pretty effective. I wish the makers of Space Odyssey had realized just how eerie the sight of vast rocket-motors blasting in absolute silence might be but alas, Pegasus lets out much the same roar as every other cardboard spaceship in every other cardboard SciFi film.
But the rest of the science was excellent. No complaints there, in fact praise for bringing out the radiation problems as well as they did. I just hope that having done this film won't discourage the BBC from making a really detailed version, but I suppose that's not for next week or next year either...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I first requested this DVD from my public library I thought it was
going to be a legitimate documentary. Having been a space fan since the
Sputnik went up when I was a young boy, I've never lost my interest.
And, living near Space Center USA doesn't hurt.
However, this is a BBC production, a fictional story with a British cast, mostly veterans of various TV shows. Some of them are faking American or Russian or French accents and do so credibly much of the time. They take time to make it realistic as they can, but still many of the laws of Physics and the fundamentals of deep space travel are violated, but not so badly as to make it distracting.
The story is set some time in the near future when a team of space travelers leave Earth to explore the solar system. The first destination is a landing on Venus, but only a very short one because of the heat and the suit's limited ability to protect. Then off to Mars, Jupiter via a pass through the Sun's outer atmosphere, Saturn, Pluto, and finally back to Earth. With large tanks of Hydrogen fuel pre-placed along the route so they could refuel. A total trip of 6 years and 50 days. That was the plan, anyway.
The film is done as a documentary, as if a camera crew were following the real explorers (impossible) and present at mission control. When a crisis arises, we see Mission Control staff telling the "documantary" cameraman to get out of the way. All in all an entertaining 2 hours, for anyone who enjoys space travel adventures done in a realistic style. A few times I even was able to put aside that it was all fiction.
SPOILERS. Radiation near the sun causes one traveler to become very sick. He holds out until Saturn, and he is "buried" wrapped in foil and cast out to drift among the rocks of the ring for eternity. They have a close near miss several times, at least once on each planet or moon, as unexpected events arise. The last stop was an asteroid which begins to throw out boulders as they are exploring it, doing some damage to the spacecrafts, but they survive to return to Earth.
Duck_of_Death needs to watch this film again, as his major criticism is
completely baseless. The film never once forgot about the time delay,
and it was mentioned explicitly in a couple of places. The crew were
never shown having conversations with mission control that didn't obey
the time delay rules.
One thing I did think was a bit far-fetched was the amount of risk involved - would a crew land on a planet on which pressure suits would only last two hours? I doubt it. Would a manned space ship go into a star's corona? I doubt it. Would humans land on a moon that was being bombarded with huge amounts of radiation? I doubt it. Also, the ship seemed overly sturdy. Would a ship designed like that risk atmospheric flight to slow it down? I doubt it. Would it survive being hit by comet debris? I doubt it. I think in both cases the stresses on the structure would be too much. But all-in-all, the unlikely scenarios were compensated by some nicely done special effects, good editing and production, and some good acting, especially by the actors portraying the ship's commander and the Russian cosmonaut.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ten years from its own genesis...'voyage to the planets' still looks as
good as it did back in 2004. At that time I actually caught it on TV by
sheer accident and for about 15 minutes actually thought it was a real
event....as in a space version of Big Brother - in those days anything
So, this is a great space documentary that serves its purpose as being good eye candy but also informative. As a person who has always wanted to go to Pluto, I was delighted to see what the surface of the last unchartered area of our galaxy looks like - all thanks to the BBC. Likewise, the landing on Venus was jaw dropping to watch at that moment in time. The view of Jupiter from Io, also devilishly spectacular!
However, the biggest thumbs up for this documentary is that after 10 years it sill looks good and still feels as good to watch, CGI hasn't dated it yet. It is also has a good quality running time which is great for sitting back, slow-motion tossing popcorn and squirting orange juice while pretending you and your buddies are in zero gravity. The DVD release is also a 2 part set which follows the same format as the original TV showing. Cool.
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