Category Archives: TV Series

Lionsgate TV Mars One Reality Series

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Lionsgate TV has teamed with Mars One for an unscripted TV series that will chronicle a group during their training to be sent on a one-way trip to Mars, in their attempt to establish the first human settlement. The untitled project, in the social experiment genre, will be shopped to networks shortly. Lionsgate TV is expected to start its own casting search, with the two selection processes ultimately merged.

Candidates for the mission will be followed during their preparation for the mission, from selection to training, with new candidates brought in as necessary. “This is a social experiment that focuses on the people that would sign for something like this — they have to agree to participate and be willing to go on a one-way mission, knowing that if you go, you can never come back,” said Roy Bank, who is producing the project as part of his overall deal with Lionsgate TV.

Read more here:
http://www.deadline.com/2014/03/mars-colony-reality-series-mars-one-lionsgate-television/

The West Wing (Mars in Context of a Fictional Bombing Run on Iran)

THE WEST WING
5×13 – “THE WARFARE OF GENGHIS KHAN”
WRITTEN BY PETER NOAH
DIRECTED BY BILL D’ELIA

JOSH
[sighing] This order, as soon as I get back. Why am I even meeting with some
geeks from NASA?

He takes off his coat and hands it to her.

DONNA
I’m sure they’re not geeks. I’m sure they’re not all geeks, and it’s to
discuss administration space priorities. Do we even have space priorities?

JOSH
Exactly.

Josh walks into the MURAL ROOM. Several people from NASA are there. They
are all wearing nametags. A man named KARL seems to be the spokesperson for
the group.

JOSH
Morning.

KARL
Good morning.

JOSH
You have nametags?

KARL
Haven’t been to the White House much these five years. Thought it’d help.

JOSH
Right, “Karl”.

KARL
I recommend the scones. They’re…

JOSH
Out of this world?

///

KARL [prelap]
A probe must launch by then…

CUT TO: INT. – MURAL ROOM – DAY

Josh and the men from NASA are still talking.

KARL [cont.]
… to use Jupiter’s gravitational field as a slingshot. The data gathered
about Kuiper Belt objects would be invaluable.

JOSH
Listen, I… appreciate your coming in, but you may be meeting with the
wrong guy. My knowledge about space is like the old joke about the official
announcing a new program. He says, ‘We’re going to go where no one has
ever been. We’re going to land on… the sun!’ Reporter says, ‘But, sir,
the sun’s a burning mass of fire.’ The official replies, ‘Ah! Thought of
that. That’s why we’re going to go at night.’ What I know is politics. Public
perception. And the image of NASA is not good. Telescopes launched that can’t
focus. Planetary probes that crashed because engineers mixed up meters and
feet. The only time NASA makes the front page anymore, is when something goes
wrong. You need to get off the front page. This administration has only one
space priority: that you guys stop screwing up. Thanks for your time.

He gets up and leaves.

///

CUT TO: INT. – JOSH’S OFFICE – DAY

Josh is seated at his desk as ALEX MOREAU comes in and introduces herself. As
she is speaking, he stands up behind his desk.

ALEX MOREAU
Mr. Lyman? Alex Moreau, Assistant Administrator, NASA. I was at the
breakfast. I mention it because you were hardly there long enough to take
any of us in. You’re wrong about us only getting on the front page when we
screw up; Hubble images appear on page one all the time.

JOSH
You’re sending up a new telescope.

MOREAU
The Webb, yes. Out past the moon.

JOSH
Every news story noted it’ll be too far out for the Shuttle to fix if it’s
all screwed up, like the Hubble was. I prepare even for meetings I don’t’
want to go to. I wasn’t improvising. You guys are lost in space.

Josh sits back down and Alex comes in and sits across from him.

MOREAU
Well, I agree with you, NASA’s lost purpose. But the problem isn’t getting off
the front page, its getting back on. The New York Times has never published
a larger headline than when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

JOSH
Only, you don’t do that anymore. Now, it’s launches to service the pointless
International Space Station – which should be re-christened the SS Good Money
After Bad. It’s all low-earth orbits. It like if, 30 years after Columbus,
Spain expected people to get hot and bothered about a trip to Mallorca.

MOREAU
That’s why we need to do this.

She reaches down and grabs something out of her bag. She lays a button on
Josh’s desk. It is red and has ‘MOB’ printed on it.

JOSH
What’s this?

He picks up the button and looks at it.

MOREAU
‘Mars or Bust’. We want the government to commit to a manned mission to Mars.

JOSH
There aren’t 20 votes for it in Congress. You couldn’t get funding for
the buttons.

He drops the button back on his desk.

MOREAU
The Republican Congress isn’t the problem. It’s liberals that killed the
space program.

JOSH
Yeah, ’cause we like to use government money to, I don’t know, help people.

MOREAU
Space travel’s inspirational. You don’t think that helps people?

JOSH
Not like feeding them or getting them jobs.

MOREAU
Well, you have to feed the soul, too. Ever look through a telescope?

JOSH
In school. Uh, a guy on my floor liked to aim one at the women’s dorm.

MOREAU
What’re you doing tonight?

JOSH
Uh…

MOREAU
Until you get a good look at what’s up there, you only think you’re
prepared. Pick you up at 8:00.

She gets up and leaves the office. Josh gets up and walks out of his office
and over to Donna’s cubicle.

JOSH
Donna, cancel my dinner with Bregstone tonight.

DONNA
Stargazing?

JOSH
You were listening?

DONNA
I’m right outside. [pause] Would you be going if she weren’t attractive?

JOSH
We’ll never know.

//

JOSH
So, I had this meeting with NASA this morning.

LEO
What a waste, since the moon. My generation never got the future it was
promised.

JOSH
What do you mean?

LEO
35 years later, cars, air travel’s the same. We don’t even have the Concorde
anymore. Technology stopped.

JOSH
The personal computer.

LEO
A more efficient delivery system for gossip and pornography. Where’s my jet
pack, my colonies on the Moon? Just a waste.

Leo walks off.

///

CUT TO: EXT. – DC COUNTRYSIDE – NIGHT

The SUV that Alex and Josh are riding in parks on a country hillside.

MOREAU
This is good.

Alex gets out, followed by Josh. They go to the back of the SUV and grab
the equipment.

MOREAU
Here, could you…?

JOSH
You want me to carry that?

MOREAU
Yes, please.

JOSH
Okay. When you said… I thought we were going to some big observatory.

MOREAU
You’re not ready for that. You need to have the same experience nine-year-olds
are having all across the country tonight.

JOSH
Are they ruining their shoes, too?

CUT TO: INT. – HALLWAY – OUTSIDE COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE – NIGHT

Leo, Nancy, and Russell are walking. They walk past the Communications office.

CUT TO: INT. – TOBY’S OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Toby is sitting at his desk. He watches the three walk by.

CUT TO: EXT. – DC COUNTRYSIDE – NIGHT

Josh and Alex have set the telescope up and they are getting ready to look
at the stars.

MOREAU
Amazing once you get away from the city lights.

JOSH
There’s one named after me up there. The Josh and Linda star.

MOREAU
The International Star Registry. Romantic.

JOSH
Yeah. Name something that’s going to be there for billions of years after
two people who won’t be speaking in six months.

MOREAU
Alex and Guillermo.

JOSH
Guillermo?

MOREAU
Yeah. Chilean. Long story.

JOSH
Sexy. Player. Dumped you.

MOREAU
Okay, not such a long story. Go ahead.

Alex has adjusted the telescope using the remote she is holding in her
hand. Josh bends over to look through the telescope. We see Jupiter through
the telescope.

MOREAU
Jupiter. The dots on either side are the four Galilean moons. You’re seeing
what Galileo saw 400 years ago.

JOSH
I remember studying Jupiter. It has 13 moons.

MOREAU
Yeah, it has 61.

JOSH
61?!

MOREAU
Go ahead.

She adjusts it again. Josh again looks through it. We see a nebula through it.

JOSH
Wow. What is that?

MOREAU
The Orion Nebula. Gas and dust. Stars are born in that. Well, born and die,
actually. Everything, every atom in our bodies comes from exploding stars. I
guess Joni Mitchell was right. We are stardust.

JOSH
Or, put another way, nuclear waste.

She adjusts it again and indicates for Josh to look. This time, we see Mars
through the telescope.

JOSH
Is that…?

MOREAU
Mars. Since it’s near its closest point, you are getting the best look at
it anyone’s had at it in 60,000 years.

///

CUT TO: INT. – CAR – CONTINUOUS

Alex puts the car in park.

JOSH
Okay it’s not going to happen, but tell me about going to Mars.

MOREAU
Right here?

Josh reaches over, stops the car, and takes the keys.

MOREAU
The plan is called Mars Direct.

JOSH
What’ll it cost?

MOREAU
$30, $40 billion.

Josh scoffs.

MOREAU
Over ten years. It’s the cost of one weapon’s system.

JOSH
Go on.

MOREAU
We launch a crew directly there, like we went to the Moon, and use the
resources there to make the fuel to get back.

JOSH
Is that doable?

MOREAU
It’s 19th century chemistry. It’s all doable now. All we lack is the ambition
and political will.

///

 CUT TO: INT. – JOSH’S OFFICE – DAY

Josh is sitting at his desk and he is flipping through the pages of a book.

JOSH
[yelling] Donna!

DONNA
[calmly] Yes.

Josh looks up and sees her standing in the doorway.

JOSH
How long have you been there?

DONNA
Long enough.

JOSH
Uh… I need a breakdown of NASA funding as a percentage of discretionary
spending in five year increments starting in 1969. Hey, you want to hear
something cool? Voyager I just crossed the termination shock eight billion
miles away. First human-made object to leave the solar system.

DONNA
Funny, I’m going through a little termination shock myself.

JOSH
What?

DONNA
Suddenly this consuming interest in space just because some NASA administrator
batted eyes at you?

JOSH
You hate that I’m interested in this.

DONNA
What was your first hint?

JOSH
That’s perfect. Sit down. Sit. I need to play out an argument.

She sits down in front of his desk.

JOSH
Everyone hates us.

DONNA
Inspiring start.

JOSH
We’re the most dominant nation on earth. But too often the face of our
economic superiority…

CUT TO: EXT. – WHITE HOUSE – DRIVEWAY – DAY

We see a VIP motorcade pulling up to the doors as Josh’s voice can still
be heard.

JOSH [VO][cont.]
is a corporate imperialism, our technological dominance shown by Smart
bombs and Predator drones. We could do something else. Something generous
and uplifting for all humankind.

We see someone open the door of one of the limos and we see a pair of feet
step out.

CUT TO: INT. – JOSH’S OFFICE – DAY

JOSH [cont.]
We could send the first representatives from Earth, to walk on another
planet. We could land people on Mars.

We see the Israeli Prime Minister and his entourage walking through the
hallway.

CUT TO: INT. – JOSH’S OFFICE – DAY

JOSH
Needs work.

DONNA
Needs something.

Donna gets up from her seat.

JOSH
Yeah, that inspiration thing.

He gets up from his seat.

JOSH

Voyager, in case it’s ever encountered by extra-terrestrials…

CUT TO: INT. – OUTER OVAL OFFICE – DAY

We see the Prime Minister walk into the Oval Office. Bartlet and Leo are
waiting for him. Bartlet greets him when he walks in.

JOSH [VO] [cont.]
… is carrying photos of life on Earth, greetings in 55 languages…

BARTLET
Prime Minister, thank you for coming.

JOSH [VO][cont.]
… and a collection of music from Gregorian chants to Chuck
Berry. Including…

We see Leo and the Prime Minister shake hands.

CUT TO: INT. – JOSH’S OFFICE – DAY

JOSH [cont.]
… “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground” by ’20s bluesman Blind Willie
Johnson, whose stepmother blinded him when he was seven by throwing lye in is
his eyes after his father had beat her for being with another man. He died,
penniless, of pneumonia after sleeping bundled in wet newspapers in the
ruins of his house that burned down. But his music just left the solar system.

DONNA
Okay, that got me.

She walks out of the office.

Bones "Asteroid Mining & the Schoolteacher Look" (Created by Hart Hanson)

“Okay, just think of it as an investment for our future. For Parker, for Christine. Asteroid mining? Yeah, asteroid mining. I did my research, okay? The head of the Jet Propulsion Lab says it’s possible, and the two guys who sent the rover to Mars, they agree. The microgravity technologies required to do so don’t even exist, Booth. You know what? There was a time when radios and-and railroads, they didn’t exist, but people, they got rich. Why are you looking at me like that? Like a schoolteacher. Every time I have a good idea… Anyway, just look at the bones. Why did the farmer run over the remains? He was an investment banker trying to get back to nature. I’m guessing the tractor didn’t handle like his Beemer. Well, according to the shallow grave here, shish kebob, he was definitely murdered. The presence of Nicrophorus americanus, along with some of its larvae, suggest the murder took place five days ago. Right. You believe in asteroid mining? Are you kidding me? It’s the only way that the species is gonna survive. Did you hear that? I am a visionary. You’re gonna be an asteroid miner? Yeah. I didn’t ask that. Don’t want to know. Please explain the difficulty to him of retrieving a 500-ton asteroid. No. Not my place. No, no, no. No, you just put it in a lunar orbit and send some guys up there. I think it’s really simple, actually. Is she looking at me like an angry schoolteacher? – Oh, yeah, yeah. She does that a lot.”

Defying Gravity: 6 years, 7 planets, 8 astronauts. Grand tour of the Solar System

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 3.56.33 PM

Angry On-The-Nose Control Freak in Uniform

PSEUDO-HERO
Lemme go out I can lead them in.

OBLIGATORY CONTROL FREAK
Negative. You will not leave the lander. I’m overriding
your launch controls. Did you close that valve?

PSEUDO-HERO
Just give ‘em two minutes, Mike.

OBLIGATORY CONTROL FREAK
You don’t have two minutes. You will die, the mission
will fail. I want that lander off the planet now.

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This one hears her aborted child…

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 4.28.33 PM

LAME

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 3.32.41 PM

“How do you do this all the time? This one is particularly disgusting.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 4.22.41 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 4.33.47 PM

OBLIGATORY CONTROL FREAK
This guy tested the most stable of the whole program.
Does anyone know if Hindus commit suicide?

PSEUDO-HERO
No, they don’t – at least I don’t think they do.

OBLIGATORY CONTROL FREAK
What’s he doing?

PSEUDO-HERO
Putting himself in orbit.

Well wherever he’s going I hope he makes it.

I’ll go out. I can go out and get him.

PSEUDO-HERO
Yeah, Mike, let her go.

OBLIGATORY CONTROL FREAK
Negative. I’ll eat the loss of an EVA suit. I
can’t afford to lose another crew member.
You and Shaw ship out in two hours. Get
your ass in gear.

PSEUDO-HERO
That’s it?

OBLIGATORY CONTROL FREAK
That’s what.

PSEUDO-HERO
You’re just going to let him die?

INTERIOR SHOTS

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EXTERIOR SHIP SHOTS

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THIS CLUELESS STEREOTYPE IS NOT BOB ZUBRIN…

While America suffers from a 30% high school dropout rate and ranks dead last in every education statistic we cannot afford to perpetuate easy-to-write stereotypes of “absent minded professors,” “science geeks,” and “socially inept engineers.”

Advocacy organizations attract and reward extroverted, dynamic, socially savvy personalities: even among space advocacy organizations the charisma and optimism of Mars Society leadership stands out. Humor is a constant feature of presentations at Mars Society conventions. The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station was designed and constructed by Franz Schubert, former lead guitarist for the band Devo.  Under the guidance of Gerry Williams the San Diego Chapter presents an award winning Mars Movie Night. Conventions often close with impromptu bands composed of members who are gifted, professional musicians. There are always pannel presentations by novelists and artists.

Zubrin, Frank Schubert, and others constructing FMARS (click to enlarge

If space is to be attainable it must be cool; science, engineering, and the social habits enabling their education must also be cool. Almost two million people have seen the indie film from which the above screenshot is taken: Pioneer One.  “Hired Mars Expert Zachary Walzer” is a cheap, one-dimensional character who would make anyone run from the Mars Society: characters leave the room rolling their eyes when Walzer speaks, he whines to Congress, even the scribbles on his charts have no bearing to a single easily reproduced diagram from Zubrin’s book Mars Direct. We cannot afford to let such easy-to-write stereotypes distract the next generation of engineers and scientists. 

Rhetoric aside, this blog does not insult individual persons or their irremediable attributes; no one should be called a “dork” in real life. The actor Jack Haley, playing Zachary Walzer, is interviewed halfway through this Pioneer One production diary: http://vimeo.com/16290264  It is frustrating to see in person he is not at all like his socially inept Walzer character, or even physically out of shape, but for some reason adds a whiny veneer to an otherwise exceptional fun caricature of Zubrin. Ironically, Jack Haley provides one of the best performances in this series; unfortunately, rather than incorporating Zubrin’s personality quirks into a cool, hip, charismatic, proactive engineer (with a strong, heavyset, commanding presence) — we are instead insulted by an old, tired, easy-to-convey cliché of “clueless science guy” (with a frumpy, blinkered, goofball demeanor).  The talented crew of Pioneer One worked hard to create this successful indie series; please encourage them to improve its portrayal of scientists and the value of science.

See this page for more on “how to write a film about Mars”
http://marsartists.blogspot.com/p/mars-positive-art.html
_______

Update:
From an email response by Pioneer One’s writer and co-director, Josh Bernhard:

As for the Walzer character himself, well, you write that you wish we had turned
 “Zubrin’s personality quirks into a cool, hip, charismatic, proactive engineer”
and that, believe it or not, was my intention.  Our success at conveying that is another point entirely.  With a budget of $6000 and limited experience in bringing narrative stories to life, having created something that holds together as well as it does is an achievement unto itself.  Now, moving forward, we can fine-tune the result and get even closer to the mark.