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Netflix Away (Netflix) (1 Viewer)

Adam Lenhardt

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This latest space drama is inspired by Chris Jones's Esquire article about Scott Kelly's yearlong mission in space. The series was created by playwright Andrew Hinderaker, who also wrote the pilot. Jessica Goldberg ("The Path") serves as showrunner, while Jason Katims ("Friday Night Lights", "Parenthood") executive produces. It's near-future science fiction; far enough ahead for humanity to have a moon base and a mission to Mars, near enough that the life on the ground is more or less the same as it is now.

I'm three episodes in, which have been about fifty-fifty between the space story with humanity's attempt to set foot on Mars and the family drama of the American mission commander, her husband, and her daughter. Each episode also seems to focus on a different member of the crew; flashbacks in the second episode filled in the Russian cosmonaut's background, while flashbacks in the third episode filled in the Chinese astronaut's background. It is an international mission, with each member of the crew hailing from a different nation: USA, Russia, China, India, and the United Kingdom.

So far, the family drama is the stronger half of the show. Hillary Swank, Josh Charles, and Talitha Bateman are all phenomenal, individually and as a collective unit. The ways they find to stay connected, and the ways they depend on each other and lean upon one another despite the vast and ever-growing distance between them, is really interesting to watch. As Emma and Matt, Swank and Charles really make you believe in this marriage. And the writing supports it; it feels mature, with a real give and take between the two spouses and each possessing a deep understanding of what the other needs. Their daughter Alexis easily could have fallen into the trap of being a petulant and resentful teenager. But she too is trying really hard to make an impossible situation work.

I have two issues with the show, both relating to choices made in the pilot. Before they blast off for Mars, there is an incident that occurs which sets off factional infighting among the crew, infighting that continues over the subsequent two episodes. These five people have been training together for two years, have been chosen to represent their countries in the highest profile mission of all time. I just don't buy that they would act so unprofessionally.

The other issue is that Emma experiences a family crisis after they've landed on the moon but before they launch for Mars. Given the circumstances, and given that there was an available alternative, I didn't buy NASA approving her to continue as mission commander. It would have played better if the crisis had occurred shortly after they'd left for Mars, when the choice was between aborting the mission or not.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Just finished the first season, which takes the story through the arrival at Mars. The show seems designed with Netflix's three-season model in mind; presumably a second season would cover the year on Mars, and the third season would cover the journey home.

@Mike Frezon If you can get past some of the contrivances in the first few episodes, I highly recommend it. The family drama is much closer to first couple seasons of "Parenthood" than the latter seasons.
 

Johnny Angell

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Well, there’s not exactly a beehive of activity discussing this show. We just finished it last night. I think it should have been titled “The Days of Our Lives Goes to Mars.” The domestic side of the show was just too big a part of the program for me. I also couldn’t believe this crew would be chosen to go to Mars. Very unbelievable.

The number of crises, both personal and Mars bound, was hard to accept. I know you have to have drama, but this was over the top. The water system, jeez who designed it? I would have thought there would be modules to pull out and replace. The backup water system, seemed like it was a couple extra canteens.

And then there’s the blind astronaut, I guess the physical was a little lax, and he was what, 60? He’s going to Mars at age 60?

And then there’s to crew member willing to commit suicide so that the landing can take place? Perhaps this should have been titled “Away - Ship of Fools.”

Then they land and it looked like they had run out of money. They are walking on the Martian surface. It’s ground and there is the sound of footfalls, on dirt.

I was able to finish this only because it’s a trip to Mars. So much wrong. All IMHO, of course.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I wanted to watch this but have been very turned off by the reports that it’s much more of a family drama than a show of space exploration.

I long for a show about realistic space travel that focuses solely on the missions and the professionalism of the crew as they undertake those tasks. I find that I’m just not that interested in more earthbound contrivances and cliches. I know the argument goes that you need personal stories and conflict to make it dramatically interesting, but I think the concept of space exploration is so exhilarating that I personally don’t need those story elements. “2001” is my favorite movie and not one moment of it is about family drama back home being intercut with a mission. “The Martian” is fabulously thrilling and there’s barely a mention of the personal lives of the astronauts. I want a show like that.
 

Josh Dial

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I wanted to watch this but have been very turned off by the reports that it’s much more of a family drama than a show of space exploration.

I long for a show about realistic space travel that focuses solely on the missions and the professionalism of the crew as they undertake those tasks. I find that I’m just not that interested in more earthbound contrivances and cliches. I know the argument goes that you need personal stories and conflict to make it dramatically interesting, but I think the concept of space exploration is so exhilarating that I personally don’t need those story elements. “2001” is my favorite movie and not one moment of it is about family drama back home being intercut with a mission. “The Martian” is fabulously thrilling and there’s barely a mention of the personal lives of the astronauts. I want a show like that.

Did you ever end up checking out Ron Moore's "For All Mankind"? It will get you partway there, but it does have a lot of focus on the "earthbound contrivances" (and a few cliches).
 

Josh Steinberg

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Did you ever end up checking out Ron Moore's "For All Mankind"? It will get you partway there, but it does have a lot of focus on the "earthbound contrivances" (and a few cliches).

I did - halfway brilliant and halfway brain dead. Worth watching but could have easily been so much better.
 

jackR

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Enjoying "Away", especially the grounding of the show in science. But, in this episode they kind of insult the viewer's intelligence. Within 20 seconds of the revelation that the supply ship will not reach them in time, this science schlub immediately envisioned a slingshot maneuver to close the distance between them in less time and then moved on to assessing the difficulties of navigation, etc. Yet they'd have us believe that all the brains on the ground and on board didn't think of this before the husband does? Many of them greeted it as an epiphany, a "Why didn't I think of that?" Moment. Puh-lease. Any third rate Sci-Fi fan could come up with this on the spot. At least the show doesn't have the obvious violations and ignorance of basic physics that were so evident in the ironically named "Gravity".
 

Greg.K

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At least the show doesn't have the obvious violations and ignorance of basic physics that were so evident in the ironically named "Gravity".
Except that they had real-time communications with Earth until they were half way to Mars, at which point they suddenly didn't. They even made that a plot point in the story. Just silly.
 

jackR

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Except that they had real-time communications with Earth until they were half way to Mars, at which point they suddenly didn't. They even made that a plot point in the story. Just silly.
Yeah, I noted that they waffled on that. Not as bad as Ad Astra, where within mere minutes of having radioed to Saturn (?), he asks if he's had a response yet. It'd take minimum over an hour each way. What gets me is that there are cinematic and story-driven ways to accurately portray such things. E.g., in Gravity when Bullock is holding onto his hand as if he'd "fall" away like a chiched cliff scene ("Don't let go" NO, save yourself!) instead of just floating there with her. They could have had the tether catch onto a protrusion at an angle and begin to wrap itself around it, so that he would have been slung into space if she let go. Easy peasy, physics-friendly, plus would've drawn out the tension, along with dizzying backdrops of spinning starscapes. I just wonder if there's actually no one in the production who knows the least bit about science. I think they need to hire old folks to tap them on the shoulder with: Not science, not history, not grammatical, etc.
 

ChristopherG

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I can easily suspend the need for every detail to make scientific sense = else wise almost every story set in space would become a nit fest for me. I enjoyed this show for what it was and look forward to the next season.

The one item that I actually did learn is that space blindness is really a thing and if we are to journey to the stars for great lengths of time this will need to be solved.
 

jackR

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I can easily suspend the need for every detail to make scientific sense = else wise almost every story set in space would become a nit fest for me. I enjoyed this show for what it was and look forward to the next season.

The one item that I actually did learn is that space blindness is really a thing and if we are to journey to the stars for great lengths of time this will need to be solved.
Yeah, I've given up nit-picking about the "sound" of explosions in space, etc. But in that case I can see how it adds to the excitement of the action, and so serves an entertainment purpose. But I was complaining about the apparent lack of scientific intelligence of highly competent folks, and how they used it to make it appear that hubbie's solution was somehow a "genius" move. Didn't you find it an obvious solution right away?
 

jackR

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While I'm here, a word of praise for the first quality sci-fi space movie: Forbidden Planet. Over 60 yrs ago, and it put the science in sci-fi by having a stasis field for deceleration (eerily similar to Star Trek's transporter) so that the crew didn't end up as pink paste on the bulkheads. Plus, the first depiction of a functional-looking AI Robbie the Robot. The ray guns effects were excellent, and reminiscent of tracer rounds. Disney did the Monster from the Id scenes, where the creature was shown in the play of multiple blaster energies. And a classic twist at the end. Not to mention it was funny in parts.
 

ChristopherG

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Yeah, I've given up nit-picking about the "sound" of explosions in space, etc. But in that case I can see how it adds to the excitement of the action, and so serves an entertainment purpose. But I was complaining about the apparent lack of scientific intelligence of highly competent folks, and how they used it to make it appear that hubbie's solution was somehow a "genius" move. Didn't you find it an obvious solution right away?
Your point here is solid.
 

jackR

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OK. That settles it: no extended space flight for me. I pretty much decided that when, in "2001" they showed the page long instructions for the zero-G toilet. BTW, HAL's voice was done by Stephanie Powers in rehearsal, English actor Nigel Davenport on set, and Kubrick first considered Martin Balsam (??) before settling on Canadian Douglas Rain (who died in 2018). As you probably know, Arthur C. Clarke used HAL by subtracting one letter from the alphabet from IBM.
 

Josh Steinberg

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As you probably know, Arthur C. Clarke used HAL by subtracting one letter from the alphabet from IBM.

He actually didn’t, but that misconception has persisted since the film and book were first releases.
 

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