Voyage to the Planets

I happened to learn of a new ABC show, Defying Gravity, over at Hulu. My wife and I watched, and mostly enjoyed, the first episode. The premise is that a group of astronauts is headed on a trip around the solar system.

But why can’t somebody just do good, hard, exciting sci-fi? Defying Gravity is seriously marred by some mysterious force (alien?) on the ship that is driving events. Way to ruin a perfectly great premise.

Fortunately, the BBC show that inspired the dumbed-down, soaped-out American version, Voyage to the Planets and Beyond (originally Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets) suffers no such silliness. We Netflixed the two-hour show and really enjoyed it.

The only thing I didn’t like about the BBC show (aside from its asinine PC environmentalist segment) is that it portrays a future global (meaning political) effort to explore the solar system, rather than a truly useful future of free-market space exploration. Typical of a political program, the voyage is a rushed, astronomically expensive venture with little payback for the investment. It would be absolute lunacy to send five astronauts on a three-year trip to Pluto, for example. What they should have done is spend the entire time on Mars, as Bob Zubrin suggests.

Still, part of the point of the show is simply to show the solar system, using top computer imaging based on the latest discoveries. In this goal, the show is a spectacular success. Wow, wow, and more wow. Don’t miss the documentary about robotic exploration of space.