That’s a pretty straightforward premise, which means a lot of what defines the show’s flavor is driven by its producers, who include Jason Katims (Friday night lights, Parenthood), showrunner Jessica Goldberg (The path) and creator Andrew Hinderaker (Pure genius). Looking at these previous credits, then, it’s no surprise that A way doesn’t go for flash or drama, but is driven by character stories told against the backdrop of a terrifying inky void. There are no extraterrestrials lurking in the shadows here – instead, it’s essentially a family / professional drama, except at one point part of someone’s foot falls off because of the trip. in space, guys, just might fuck you physically.
Chris Jones’ detailed Esquire tale of astronaut Scott Kelly served as the main inspiration for the series, which explores the physical realities of what happens when bags of human meat attach to a ton of explosives. and fly away into a void filled with a thousand possibilities for death. (Listen, I really like stories that take place in space, but that doesn’t mean I want to go there.) Emma’s (Swank) team of the best and brightest in the world includes Misha (Mark Ivanir), Earth’s most experienced cosmonaut Indian co-pilot Ram (Ray Panthaki), Ghanan / British botanist and novice in Kwesi space (Ato Essandoh) and Lu (Vivian Wu), the reserved Chinese representative who has been tagged as the first person to set foot on the surface of the fourth planet in the solar system.
Of course, they all left people behind, with Emma’s family taking up the majority of Earth-related screen time, and that’s okay because Josh Charles plays Matt, the most loyal, supportive, and wonderful husband of all time, a role that Good wife and Hot and humid american summer star like a glove.
Going into specifics on what all of these people are up against in this first season would be way too spoiler-based, but the series manages to pack in a star-crossed LGBTQ love story, medical emergencies, multiple characters exploring questions about faith, a puppet show, and again, part of a falling person’s foot. That is, it’s rarely boring, and while the production design doesn’t go beyond what we’ve seen in other TV shows set in space (real and fictional), it does is solid in all areas. More episode directors, including Edward Zwick and Bronwen Hughes, succeed in having a lot fun with zero-G sequences.
The biggest obstacle A way faces during its 10-episode first season is the fact that, just like a spaceship, a TV show is a delicate machine, one with many moving parts. Engines at top shows purr like a Porsche – but when A way changes speed, he sometimes feels misaligned. Not disastrously, it always gets you where you need to go. But in this metaphor, engine stuttering means spending a little too much time on Earth dramas, like Emma’s daughter Alexis, who like many other high-profile drama teenage girls before her is skillfully played by Talitha Bateman but has no definition beyond his love for his parents and his slight rebellious tendency.
As someone who watches a lot of genre series, there is something refreshing about its simplicity. A way may be. But sometimes he’s also so caught up in technical malfunctions to create drama that he feels like he’s losing sight of the big picture. The show doesn’t sidestep the political issues inherent in space travel, but they are treated as a sideline, perhaps in part because the show takes place in a relatively unspecified and not too distant future, sufficiently advanced to design a mission like this. but not advanced enough to evolve beyond the iPad as a regular fixture. (Seriously, everyone has a hell of a shelf on this show, including people in space.) A way Much of it is about mission – back and forth – but since it’s largely rooted in a very 2019 status quo (something that feels very foreign now), it’s hard to get a sense of what kind of world the crew leaves behind, and to what they could return.
Yet at key moments, when the series focuses on a character’s attempt to reconnect with a loved one, an astronaut takes a huge risk, or something seemingly impossible manages to happen, that Friday night lights-The magic can be felt on the screen.
When the question “Why Mars?” is requested during West wing episode “Galileo”, the eloquent editor Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowespeaking the words of Aaron Sorkin) this,
Because it’s next. For we came out of the cave, and we looked over the hill, and we saw fire. And we crossed the ocean, and we pioneered the West, and we took to the skies. The story of the man hangs on the exploration timeline, and that’s what follows.
Here on Earth our problems are endless, but when we look at the stars, Mars is next. And A way does one thing very, very well – make it look like it’s worth it.
Class: B +
A way Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.