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Netflix series “Away”: the journey to Mars, chock full of personal drama

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,474
14,485
West Vancouver, British Columbia
Away | Netflix Official Site

No doubt some of you have watched at least a few episodes of this new series from Netflix. As the setting is the first human mission to Mars, it seems at least tangentially related to this forum even though there is no mention of SpaceX.

I have read interviews with the creators of the series and understand that their intent is not to spend time on the technical details of what a manned mission to Mars would involve but to instead focus on the personal lives of the five astronauts and the difficulties inherent in a multi-year mission so far away from Earth.

I won’t give away any major spoilers, but I am not impressed by the show. The personal dramas seem contrived and the emotional intensity often exaggerated. It’s almost a space soap opera.

And there are some outright ridiculous aspects. The commanding astronaut is married to another astronaut who is also — correct me if I’m wrong — the chief engineer of the spacecraft. Sure. At one point when she is in space and faced with a difficult EVA to fix a problem he has a private channel conversation with her and tells her about a way to do the spacewalk, as if the ground support team could not provide her with some very basic information.

The Russian astronaut is the homophobic tough old guy; what a stereotype. During the spacewalk he literally “throws” her at her objective, which is absurd; she would have crashed into the structure on the spacecraft she is trying to repair and just made things worse.

What’s good about this series? Not much. I did note that the design of the solar panels on the spacecraft is remarkably similar to the SpaceX Starship panels that we first saw renderings of several years ago.

Of course I’m going to continue watching the show because it’s about a mission to Mars and I’m a sucker for such a story. :D Starting episode four tonight.
 
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Cosmacelf

Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2013
8,885
22,910
San Diego
The number of badly written shows with lazy script writing is astounding. The problem is that there is a huge market for sci-fi so people keep watching dreck because there's not much else available.

FWIW (not much), I've been working on and off on an original series sci-fi screenplay. It is, of course, very hard to do. But it's been a fun intellectual challenge, keeps me out of trouble, and I can delude myself that it might turn into something worthwhile someday :)
 

Grendal

SpaceX Moderator
Jan 31, 2012
6,097
7,781
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Discovery Channel "Mars" docudrama series that had commentary by Elon was about as good as it gets for something on Mars colonization.

The problem with "Away," "The Martian," or any similar type of show or movie is that it has to focus on drama or action over reality. 2001 A Space Odyssey was about the most realistic in terms of how quiet, slow, and tedious real space travel is after the initial launch. Movies and TV shows are notorious for spacecraft acting like fighter planes instead of real spacecraft. Even SpaceX gives us the intense drama of the launch and landing but avoids the hours and days of a Dragon going to and from the ISS. Apollo 13 was a great example of how to turn it around but that was because the astronauts were really in a life and death situation for their mission.

So enjoy the fantasy of TV and movies but being accurate or realistic is very unlikely. If the show tells a story well and avoids too much bad science then it should be enjoyable. Movies and TV are art by committee. I've written over a dozen screenplays and it doesn't matter how accurate or realistic you write the story, if a director or producer decides to add something they think is great...your work at being accurate or realistic is gone.
 

animorph

Active Member
Apr 1, 2016
2,161
1,584
Scottsdale, AZ
I found "Away" quite boring. The sets seem very simplistic, not a lot of interesting things going on there. The sound design is particularly sparse, like they forgot to add a Foley track. Just the actor's voices, which don't sound like they are in the environment we can see, and some music. That leaves only the dialog to maintain any interest at all, and it's not up to the task. No rush to finish it off for me, but maybe if they make it to Mars it will be a tiny bit more interesting.
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
8,477
11,694
United States
Away | Netflix Official Site

No doubt some of you have watched at least a few episodes of this new series from Netflix. As the setting is the first human mission to Mars, it seems at least tangentially related to this forum even though there is no mention of SpaceX.

I have read interviews with the creators of the series and understand that their intent is not to spend time on the technical details of what a manned mission to Mars would involve but to instead focus on the personal lives of the five astronauts and the difficulties inherent in a multi-year mission so far away from Earth.

I won’t give away any major spoilers, but I am not impressed by the show. The personal dramas seem contrived and the emotional intensity often exaggerated. It’s almost a space soap opera.

And there are some outright ridiculous aspects. The commanding astronaut is married to another astronaut who is also — correct me if I’m wrong — the chief engineer of the spacecraft. Sure. At one point when she is in space and faced with a difficult EVA to fix a problem he has a private channel conversation with her and tells her about a way to do the spacewalk, as if the ground support team could not provide her with some very basic information.

The Russian astronaut is the homophobic tough old guy; what a stereotype. During the spacewalk he literally “throws” her at her objective, which is absurd; she would have crashed into the structure on the spacecraft she is trying to repair and just made things worse.

What’s good about this series? Not much. I did note that the design of the solar panels on the spacecraft is remarkably similar to the SpaceX Starship panels that we first saw renderings of several years ago.

Of course I’m going to continue watching the show because it’s about a mission to Mars and I’m a sucker for such a story. :D Starting episode four tonight.

Have you watched 'The Expanse'?
 

Cosmacelf

Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2013
8,885
22,910
San Diego
I've written over a dozen screenplays and it doesn't matter how accurate or realistic you write the story, if a director or producer decides to add something they think is great...your work at being accurate or realistic is gone.

You have??? Wow, so many questions...

What genres have you done? For what formats (movies, series, etc.)?

How did you get into screenwriting? Is (or was) it your main avocation?

It sounds like you've had your screenplays produced - which one(s) are your favorite end result and why?

I'll start there...
 
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Cosmacelf

Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2013
8,885
22,910
San Diego
Meanwhile .. Raised by Wolves on HBOMax is absolutely fantastic!

We’ve only seen the first three episodes, right? Visually stunning, solid acting, but has some lazy scriptwriting, and I am wondering where it’s going. If it ends up being that the religious part of humanity are the stupid bad guys, that’s such a shop worn tired trope, it’ll be really disappointing.
 
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ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,474
14,485
West Vancouver, British Columbia
The problem with "Away," "The Martian," or any similar type of show or movie is that it has to focus on drama or action over reality.
And in that regard...Away does something particularly ridiculous with the issue of communication transmission delays increasing as the distance from Earth increases. For the first half of the journey to Mars there is no delay portrayed at all, which is absurd. And then it gets more absurd; suddenly the spacecraft reaches a point in its journey where video or voice calls are simply no longer possible and only email and texts can be exchanged.

2001 A Space Odyssey was about the most realistic in terms of how quiet, slow, and tedious real space travel is after the initial launch
Agreed. Kubrick and Clarke knew what they were doing. And they did not include any sound in scenes with spacecraft traveling through space. Away and every other sci-fi space show adds sound to rockets in space!
 
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Grendal

SpaceX Moderator
Jan 31, 2012
6,097
7,781
Santa Fe, New Mexico
You have??? Wow, so many questions...

What genres have you done? For what formats (movies, series, etc.)?

How did you get into screenwriting? Is (or was) it your main avocation?

It sounds like you've had your screenplays produced - which one(s) are your favorite end result and why?

I'll start there...

Apologies for going off topic. Also apologies for the lengthy tedious screenwriting history to those reading this.

I took screenwriting in college and wrote a number of smaller pieces there. I got into it because my favorite author (Harlan Ellison) said that it's nearly impossible to make money writing books, but you can make good money writing for movies and TV. Then I spent years honing the craft as a starving artist with my best friend/writing partner. At one point we even became an agency trying to sell what we wrote. After writing about five movies together (mostly drama) with none of them selling we ran across an extremely rich person who pointed out that, if you want to make money then you should be in business. Business is about money. So we dropped writing movies except for fun to go into business.

As life seems to go, while doing well at our business we went to a party and ran across a gentleman that had just graduated college as a director. He was eager to do something and convinced my partner to "do something together". Our director was a very talkative guy who was very good at bringing people together. So in our off time we wrote him a quirky cult classic film that was drama, action, with quirky comedic moments. He went off to Hollywood to work at Warner Brothers on various TV shows. About a year goes by and he calls us and says he is going to make our movie with his friends at Warner Brothers. We need to come out and convince them to "join the team." So off to Hollywood we go and get on the Warner Brothers lot to pitch the movie to PRODUCERS. They are important enough to get capital letters. All of these people are low level people that work at Warner Brothers but really want to do something that gets them attention from higher ups so they can move up the production chain and they are going to make Our Film. Each producer had connections which gets the film free aspects of making the film: equipment, 35 mm film, film processing, editing, editing equipment, etc... A little seed money from my business/writing partner and I and off they went. During the first shoot they discovered they could hire some bigger actors for a day. So my partner and I did endless rewrites catered to a specific actor or actress they hired (Rue McClanahan was the biggest). After about six filming shoots the director (who wasn't good at all) decided to do a rogue shoot for our finale Mexico scene and changed the scene completely - essentially ruining the balance of the entire picture. My partner and I lost it and quit. They quickly hired some hack who had no clue what to do and rewrote everything he could. They completed the film and we (since we were producers as well as the writers) took it to various film festivals where a few distributors were willing to buy it but the director and producers (except for us) were unwilling to sell it. That is the one film that was actually made, and it isn't very good except for a few scenes that worked in spite of the director.

We wrote about three more films after that for various people we met along the way. None of those could develop the momentum to get made. All of that was over twenty years ago. My partner made an independent film that he wrote and directed himself and, I think, put up on Youtube about 15 years ago.

So that is my sordid screenwriting/producing history. The genre's I did were drama, comedy, action, Star Trek, X-Men, and a full blown romance fantasy for my various scripts.
 

favo

P3D+ owner
Apr 5, 2012
1,063
1,187
Durham, NC
I thought it was OK. Of course there were plenty of technical/scientific gaffes, but what else is new? The communication (no) delay issue was a strange one. There was a bit more religious stuff than I would expect from a crew that is mostly scientists. On the other hand, I thought the movement in microgravity SFX were pretty good. Also, the various problems that cropped up on the voyage were food for thought on how dangerous the real early missions will be. This was reminiscent of Apollo 13, but not nearly as well done.

First I had heard of space blindness. This seems like a really big issue for any Mars missions.
 

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