Mars (2016 TV series)

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Mars,title screen.png
Science fiction
Created by
Based onHow We'll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek
Developed by
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes13 including prequel (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Ron Howard
  • Brian Grazer
  • Michael Rosenberg
  • Justin Wilkes
  • Everardo Gout
  • Tommy Turtle
  • Jonathan Silberberg
  • Lorenzo Mieli
  • Dave O'Connor
  • Jon Kamen
Running time47 minutes
Production companies
Original networkNational Geographic
Original releaseNovember 14, 2016 (2016-11-14) –
December 17, 2018 (December 17, 2018)
Preceded byBefore Mars
External links
Official website

Mars is a documentary and hard science fiction television series produced by National Geographic, which premiered on November 14, 2016, on their channel, and FX.[1][2] Prior to its official air date, it was launched in a streaming format on November 1, 2016.[3] It blends elements of real interviews with a fictional story of a group of astronauts as they land on the planet Mars.

The series is based on the 2015 book How We'll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek. The fictional narrative alternates initially between the years 2016 and 2033, using present day non-fiction interviews to explain events unfolding in the story. The series was filmed in Budapest and Morocco.[4]

A companion book to the series, called Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet, was published in October 2016 detailing the science behind the show.[1] A prequel episode, called Before Mars, was produced and released conjointly with the series. It tells the fictional story of a moment in the life of one of the astronauts, and the decisions she made to get involved in science.[5]

On January 13, 2017, it was announced that National Geographic had renewed the series for a second season, which premiered on November 12, 2018.[6][7]

The lead actress Jihae confirmed that the series was cancelled after only two seasons on her official Instagram.[8]


In the year 2033, a crew of six astronauts launch from Florida on a journey to be the first people to set foot on Mars. During the descent into the Martian atmosphere, there is a malfunction with their spacecraft, the Daedalus. They land 75.3 kilometres away from their planned habitat. On Earth their progress is being monitored. In the second season, the story jumps ahead several years into the future after the Daedalus astronauts have built a full-fledged colony called Olympus Town. Having established humankind as an interplanetary species, Season 2 examines the impact that humans have on the Red Planet and the consequences the planet has on us.

Intermixed with the story are real-life interview footage from the present, of the crew, and their mission control; there are interviews with various public figures, including scientists and engineers, such as Elon Musk, Susan Wise Bauer, Andy Weir, Robert Zubrin, and Neil deGrasse Tyson,[4] about the difficulties that the crew might face on a journey to, and living on, Mars.


The cast for the fictional part of the first season includes:[9][10]

  • Ben Cotton as Ben Sawyer, American mission commander and systems engineer.
  • Jihae Kim as
    • Hana Seung, American mission pilot and systems engineer, later mission commander, and
    • Joon Seung, her twin sister and CAPCOM of mission control on Earth, later secretary-general of International Mars Science Foundation, the multi-nation organization funding the Mars expedition.
  • Clémentine Poidatz as Amelie Durand, French mission physician and biochemist.
  • Sammi Rotibi as Robert Foucault, Nigerian mission engineer and roboticist.
  • Alberto Ammann as Javier Delgado, Spanish mission hydrologist and geochemist.
  • Anamaria Marinca as Marta Kamen, Russian mission exobiologist and geologist.
  • Olivier Martinez as Ed Grann, CEO of the Mars Missions Corporation, consortium of private aerospace companies preparing Mars expeditions.
  • Cosima Shaw as Leslie Richardson, a logistical engineer who joins the expedition to oversee the base's expansion. In Season 2 she becomes secretary-general of International Mars Science Foundation.

With the exception of Martinez and Cotton, all of these actors joined the second season, which started production in July 2017.[10]

Season 2[edit]


The series music is composed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The soundtrack for the first season was released on November 11, 2016.[11]

For the second season, Dee Johnson took over as showrunner. Stephen Cragg and Ashley Way joined returning director Everardo Gout. Esai Morales, Roxy Sternberg, Gunnar Cauthery, Levi Fiehler, Evan Hall, Akbar Kurtha and Jeff Hephner joined the Season 2 cast.[10]

The second season premiered in the UK and Belgium[12] on November 11, 2018,[13] and in the US on November 12.[7]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
PrequelOctober 26, 2016 (2016-10-26)
16November 14, 2016 (2016-11-14)December 19, 2016 (2016-12-19)
26November 12, 2018 (2018-11-12)December 17, 2018 (2018-12-17)
SpecialNovember 12, 2018 (2018-11-12)

Prequel (2016)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"Before MARS"Lloyd Lee ChoiStory by : Rebecca StromOctober 26, 2016 (2016-10-26)

"Before MARS" is the dramatic backstory of Hana & Joon Seung, principal characters in Mars.

Note: It was released on YouTube one month before release of the main series.

Season 1 (2016)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
21"Novo Mundo"Everardo GoutStory by : Karen Janszen
Teleplay by : Karen Janszen & Paul Solet
November 14, 2016 (2016-11-14)1.42[14]
In 2033, the first human mission to Mars successfully enters its atmosphere and lands, though their commander is injured saving the ship and they land far off course. In the present, SpaceX is attempting to land the world's first reusable rocket.
32"Grounded"Everardo GoutStory by : André Bormanis
Teleplay by : André Bormanis & Paul Solet
November 21, 2016 (2016-11-21)0.974[15]
The Daedalus crew battles harsh Martian terrain to reach base camp. Command changes with the death of the original commander. In reality, NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly undergoes a mission on the International Space Station, which will be the longest number of continuous days a human has spent in space.
43"Pressure Drop"Everardo GoutStory by : Mickey Fisher
Teleplay by : Mickey Fisher & Paul Solet
November 28, 2016 (2016-11-28)0.795[16]
In 2033, the Daedalus crew struggles to find permanent shelter, which hinges on locating a water source. Currently, the European Space Agency and Roscosmos partner to launch an orbiter.
54"Power"Everardo GoutStory by : Ben Young Mason
Teleplay by : Ben Young Mason & Paul Solet
December 5, 2016 (2016-12-05)0.866[17]
In 2037, four years after Mars colonization, a massive electrical storm threatens the outpost. In reality, Antarctica serves as a parallel for remote human settlement.
65"Darkest Days"Everardo GoutPaul SoletDecember 12, 2016 (2016-12-12)0.738[18]
In 2037, 8 weeks into the dust storm, the colony is on lockdown. Psychological pressure takes its toll as the crew is trapped in the habitat. The dust storm is in its 2nd month and the base commander has to ration power. The temperature in the habitat has dropped and the doctor is checking all crew members. A botanist who loses his grip with reality, due to the decimation of his crops and the disintegration of his marriage, opens an airlock killing himself and several others. In 2016, NASA performed the simulation "HI-SEAS" mission in Mauna Loa, Hawaii to test the effects of isolation and the psychology of a crew living closely together for a period of 12 months.
76"Crossroads"Everardo GoutStory by : André Bormanis
Teleplay by : André Bormanis & Paul Solet
December 19, 2016 (2016-12-19)0.714[19]
In 2037, a devastating tragedy in the colony forces everyone to question the mission. On Earth an upcoming statement (presumably about the mission ending), results instead with an announcement of the discovery of life on Mars. In the present, SpaceX attempts another pioneering launch.

Season 2 (2018)[edit]

No. in
Title [20][21]Directed byWritten byOriginal air date [21]U.S. viewers
81"We Are Not Alone"Stephen CraggDee JohnsonNovember 12, 2018 (2018-11-12)0.582[22]
It is April 2042, five years after "Crossroads". Terraforming of Mars has started with the arrival of a group of highly skilled astronauts/miners working for a for-profit corporation called Lukrum specializing in natural-resource extraction. The people at Lukrum's base request water and know Commander Hana Seung of Olympus Town can't say no. Dr. Amelie Durand plans to go back to Earth. In the real-world footage, the episode shows many people, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Andy Weir, Elon Musk and Kim Stanley Robinson talking about capitalist pursuits on Earth of Arctic oil.
92"Worlds Apart"Everardo GoutDee JohnsonNovember 19, 2018 (2018-11-19)0.413[23]
In May 2042, Lukrum finds water on Mars and Marta Kamen demands to study it, before Lukrum can damage any potential life living therein. Dr. Amelie Durand finds out she's pregnant, maybe ending her plans to go back to earth. Hana Seung and her sister Joon Seung are reunited, but not in the way they had hoped for.
103"Darkness Falls"Everardo GoutDavid GouldNovember 26, 2018 (2018-11-26)0.463[24]
By August 2042, Amelie and Javier have found out that they are having a girl. A solar flare strikes Mars, knocking out power and communications to both Olympus Town and Lukrum. Marta was outside looking for life, and becomes stranded as a result of the power loss, putting her life in extreme jeopardy. Commander Seung is distracted by her grief regarding a recent personal tragedy.
114"Contagion"Stephen CraggJulie HebertDecember 3, 2018 (2018-12-03)0.453[25]
Twelve hours after finding Marta, a mysterious illness kills one person in Olympus Town and makes half of Lukrum sick. Before asking the Chinese government for help, IMSF and Lukrum think of public relations to the news of a new disease on Mars. Not one to wait, Cmdr. Seung calls the Chinese orbiting space station asking for help for medication, which later arrives and prevents any more fatalities both in Olympus Town and with Lukrum. Lt.Cmdr. Mike Glenn, 2nd in command, questions Seung and asks the IMSF to be in charge of Olympus Town.
125"Power Play"Ashley WayPaul KeablesDecember 10, 2018 (2018-12-10)0.359[26]
By November 2042, Lt.Cmdr. Glenn's request to be in charge of Olympus Town is denied by the IMSF. Lukrum and Russia make a backroom deal and the IMSF are powerless. Hana Seung and Robert Foucault search for water, and Robert tells Hana he is quitting Olympus Town to work for Lukrum. Both try to kindle a budding relationship, which fails as Hana is devoted to the mission. Glenn cuts power to Lukrum after exceeding the power agreement, unknowingly jeopardizing the entire Lukrum base. When Cmdr. Seung later finds out, Lt.Cmdr. Glenn is confined to his quarters. Amelie later goes into premature labor two months early and gives birth.
136"The Shakeup"Ashley WayDee JohnsonDecember 17, 2018 (2018-12-17)0.391[27]
By December 2042, Lukrum uses an underground explosion to locate liquid water but this action also causes marsquakes. Lukrum colony gets hit worst with several dead, including their commander who searched the wrecked station for survivors and was asphyxiated when his spacesuit was damaged. On Earth Lukrum's CEO tries to downplay the cause of the quake and buys his way into IMSF, only to get stumped by IMSF director Richardson who hands the show to Olympus Town where Seung reveals the truth about the quake and Amelie and Javier present their baby, Gabriella Durand Delgado, to the audience on Earth. In the final scene three years later in May of 2045, the team looks at the first cloud on a satellite image and celebrates evidence of their efforts in terraforming Mars.

Special (2018)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byOriginal release date
Special1"Inside SpaceX"Julia ReaganNovember 12, 2018 (2018-11-12)
"Inside SpaceX" is the overview about SpaceX's key moments (some of it had been already aired on some episodes) such as first Falcon 1 flight, attempted booster landing, until Falcon Heavy Test Flight.[28]


Critical response[edit]

The first season of Mars received mixed reviews, holding a 61% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 7.33/10 based on 18 reviews; in 2018, the critical consensus stated:

"Ron Howard's direction ensures that Mars is an attractive endeavor, even if the show struggles to move smoothly between its documentary and fictional elements."[29]

On Metacritic, the first season has received a score of 59 out of 100 based on 14 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[30]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Saturn Awards Best Television Presentation Mars Nominated [31]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ a b Messier, Douglas (November 2, 2016). "National Geographic Channel's 'Mars': Does Art Imitate Life?". Retrieved November 2, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "National Geographic Presents: Mars". FXNOW. November 3, 2016. Archived from the original on November 23, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  3. ^ Nordine, Michael (November 1, 2016). "'Mars': Watch the First Episode of National Geographic Channel's Miniseries Now". IndieWire. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "National Geographic Channel to Air New Event Series". Broadcast. November 3, 2016. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  5. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (May 9, 2016). "Nat Geo Channel's 'Mars' Drama Series Sets Scripted Online Prequel". Variety. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  6. ^ Petski, Denise (January 13, 2017). "Mars: Event Series Renewed For Season 2 By National Geographic – TCA". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Watch Mars on National Geographic". Nat Geo. December 27, 2018. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  8. ^ Jihae (June 12, 2019). "There will be NO Season 3 of Mars". Instagram.
  9. ^ "National Geographic Channel, Imagine Entertainment, and RadicalMedia redefine television storytelling with global event series, Mars, beginning November 14, 2016". Corus Entertainment. November 3, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Petski, Denise (July 24, 2017). "Mars season 2: Esai Morales, Roxy Sternberg, five more round out cast as production begins". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  11. ^ "Mars: (Original National Geographic Series Soundtrack)". Amazon. December 27, 2018. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  12. ^ "Mars 2". Nat Geo NL. November 11, 2018. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  13. ^ "Mars 2". Nat Geo UK. November 9, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  14. ^ Welch, Alex (November 15, 2016). "Monday cable ratings: Monday night football and 'WWE Raw' dip". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  15. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (November 22, 2016). "UPDATED: SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.21.2016". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  16. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (November 30, 2016). "UPDATED: SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.28.2016". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  17. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (December 6, 2016). "UPDATED: SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 12.5.2016". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  18. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (December 13, 2016). "UPDATED: SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 12.12.2016". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  19. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (December 20, 2016). "UPDATED: SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 12.19.2016". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  20. ^ "MARS - Episodes Guide and Summaries". Next Episode. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Mars - Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  22. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (November 13, 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.12.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  23. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (November 20, 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.19.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  24. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (November 28, 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.26.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  25. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (December 4, 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 12.3.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  26. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (December 11, 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 12.10.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  27. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (December 18, 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 12.17.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  28. ^ MARS: Inside SpaceX (TV Movie 2018) - IMDb, retrieved 2021-04-07
  29. ^ Fandango (2018). "Mars: Season 1 (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  30. ^ CBS Interactive (2016). "Mars - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  31. ^ McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

External links[edit]