In the year 2030, the race to be the first to reach the Red Planet is on - and China is leading the way. China has stunned the world by leapfrogging over America's long-term plans and has ... See full summary »




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Series cast summary:
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 Max 'Bull' Haber (2 episodes, 2007)
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 Lynn Erwin (2 episodes, 2007)
 Adam Erwin (2 episodes, 2007)
 Rick Erwin's Father (2 episodes, 2007)
Vlasta Vrana ...
 Space Agency Narrator (2 episodes, 2007)
 Mission Controller (2 episodes, 2007)
Elisa Bourreau ...
 Lucia Alarcon (2 episodes, 2007)


In the year 2030, the race to be the first to reach the Red Planet is on - and China is leading the way. China has stunned the world by leapfrogging over America's long-term plans and has landed a series of advanced rovers and robotic landers in their quest to make the most important discovery in history - extraterrestrial life on Mars. Once again, America and its partners, including Canada, are thrust into a winner-take-all space race - but the stakes are higher than the race to the Moon nearly seven decades earlier. The international team accelerates its plans - when China prepares to send its final wave of rovers, this consortium will surge ahead and at last launch a human crew. Six extraordinary individuals from Canada, the United States, Russia, France and Japan are selected for this gruelling two-year mission. These four men and two women must work together as a team, rise above their secret fears and struggle with the sacrifice of leaving friends and family behind. Training and... Written by Galafilm

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Adventure | Sci-Fi






Release Date:

23 September 2007 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

Erster auf dem Mars  »

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CAD 12,000,000 (estimated)

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User Reviews

One of the more 'realistic' portrayals of a manned mars mission.
3 October 2007 | by (Ottawa, Ontario) – See all my reviews

Overall, an amazingly realistic "space drama" 4-hour TV show for the right expectations - a show that makes you think. A show for the "Deep Impact" crowd rather than the "Armageddon" crowd.

As a science fiction enthusiast and a space technology reader, I can recognize that some people expected a nonstop action-filled movie and got disappointed by it. The show is more of interest for the documentary/intellectual crowd, or the docudrama crowd, than for the popcorn movie crowd.

In short, this series is designed as a more realistic (if slightly hollywoodified) portrayal of a manned mars mission. This series is much more realistic than "Mission to Mars" and "The Red Planet", if you are looking for realism (including boredom) instead of popcorn action (nonstop action).

Without going into the plot, there are a number of realistic portrayals exhibited in this show, included included psychology elements of a manned mars trip, scandal (remember Nowak), skipped quality-control checks (just see all the product recalls going on these days), politics, a 'reasonable' going-against-mission-control school of thought (just remember Alan Shepard played a little unauthorized golf on the moon in 1971), spacecraft software bugs and radioed upgrades (very common in current spacecraft), the amount of time it took to travel to Mars is similar to current mars missions, the use of centrifugal force for artificial gravity, a number of very reasonable disasters (some of which are similar to what has happened before - fire on MIR space station, collision of Spektr of MIR, space shuttle disaster, - all real space disasters etc), Apollo 13 style improvisation (did you know they actually used duct tape and plastic bags to fix the life support system?), boredom, health issues, bathroom, mold, laboratory animals, experiments, and lots more.

Even the use of nuclear thermal propulsion system was a somewhat realistic idea - lots of designs were tested in the 1960's (wikipedia: "Nuclear thermal rocket") and almost became mission-ready until concerns about radioactivity came to fore. Nuclear thermal is theoretically simple - use heat of a hot nuclear object to turn a liquid into superheated gas which comes out of the rocket -- rather than more fun but currently-unobtainable technology such as fusion or antimatter rockets. Given production budget limits, understandable uses of pre-existing technologies have had to be used (i.e. thick tablet computers, etc) which adds slightly to a cheesy effect for the technologically knowledgeable people, but it is very likely we will still use very similar technologies then.

The China reference is realistic. Let's not forget we all 'hated' or 'feared' the soviets (USSR) one way or another back in its day. Whether we like it or not, apparently China is slowly catching up - being the 3rd nation to have a man in space already, and are planning to send a rover to the moon in the near future (see BBC news, etc), so the reference to China was relatively realistic. China is getting more scrutiny these days, so there's a lot of negativity, but let's be fair -- they have clearly demonstrated actions with ambitions to be a contender for a future space race -- and let's face it, while imperfect, life is apparently much better there than it was in 1989 -- it's night and day. Given time, China would very realistically fit into this movie's time line.

Granted, there are many unrealistic portrayals too. There is some amount of Hollywood-ification. The time line for a Mars mission of this scale as early as 2030 is a little unrealistic, considering NASA has said 2037 as the earliest date for a Mars mission, according to Griffin, the admin of NASA. Especially considering the size of the ship, is kind of huge for a first Mars mission which would probably be more Wright Brothers-like in scale (something bigger than Apollo, but much smaller than the ship in this movie). In addition, there's the usual audio outside the ship - understandable use, even if it should be dead quiet. There are a lot of other unrealistic elements, but all made-for-TV, even "based on a true story" shows, have dramatizations to varying extents.

"Race to Mars" excels as excellent inspiration to travel to Mars. I hope that a few people are encouraged to work towards space program as a result of this show This is the type of movie that makes you think more; and the movie likely more greatly appeals to the intellectuals, who enjoyed movies such as 'Deep Impact' more than 'Armageddon'. (More background information: The popcorn excitement in 'Armageddon' was more fun and exciting, while the more realistic elements were in the movie 'Deep Impact'. Many of these types of 'earth-is-doomed' movies still suffer from unrealistic premises (i.e. small number of nuclear bombs being blown up on such asteroid/comet objects so close to planet Earth, are not realistic), but intellectual purists have recognized that realistically a real-life asteroid/comet impact event would more realistically resemble 'Deep Impact' than 'Armageddon', despite lots of other impossibilities apparent in both movies.) Both movies were enjoyable - but for very different reasons.

We would be happy to see many more of these high quality made-for-TV shows as time passes. I am impressed that only $12 million was spent (production, excluding marketing) to make a show of this high quality, of 4 hours in length, and in full high-def. This budget was huge by Canadian TV standards, but tiny for a Hollywood film. While probably not Acadamy Award material (except for 'best documentary', if it was a real event), this show was easily much superior quality to many more expensive productions that made it to the big screen.

9 out of 10 stars.

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