National Geographic Channel's half documentary, half narrative series Mars' returns tonight at 9pm eastern with a bang and a leap forward five years. This is the second season for the show which is one of the boldest and smartest of the docu-reality show driven network.
On the first season of Mars, the IMSF (International Mars Science Foundation) led an expedition to the red planet to establish a base and to study the possibility of sustaining human life outside of Earth. They succeeded, just barely. Through a series of accidents and, well, not accidents (spoilers) they lost several members of their crew but somehow were able to pull everything together and maintain.
The show uses documentary style interviews with experts in a wide range of topics to explain how all humans might be able to survive and even thrive on a currently inhospitable planet. Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla), Stephen Petranek (author of How We'll Live on Mars, the book that the premise of the series is based on), along with astronauts, scientists delve into the details in quick and well explained cutaways from the action of the narrative to explain the science of what is happening on screen. This innovative (and never distracting) style allows the science (not science-fiction) of the show to be explained without having to have actors and scriptwriters explain it - something that so often slows the pace of the narrative or causes clumsy metaphors or analogies.
The first season of the show is smart, surprisingly well done for a network that didn't do narrative tv before. The full first season is currently streaming on the National Geographic Channel's website and app. It's a show I can't recommend enough. Be sure to catch the first episode tonight as it's shown - and then catch up on last season - there will be spoilers for sure but not enough kill the drama.
Beyond Mars, National Geographic Channel has a wide range of films and tv shows like Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Cosmos, America Inside Out with Katie Couric, and Emmy award winning documentary on the LA riots - LA 92. Comicbook.com previously reviewed their Will Smith led documentary series, One Strange Rock which used incredible visuals to show the oddest and most interesting parts of our world.