Missions (TV series)
Missions is a French science-fiction television series first broadcast in 2017. Set in the near future, it depicts a mission to the planet Mars.
Missions was created by Ami Cohen, Henri Debeurme and Julien Lacombe and produced by Empreinte Digitale of Paris. It was first broadcast in June 2017 on the French pay-TV channel OCS, released on the Shudder streaming service in September 2017, and broadcast free-to-air on British BBC4 in May 2018. The first series has ten 26-minute episodes that were as short as 20 minutes when aired by the BBC without intervening adverts. The first series is a mixture of science fiction, adventure and mysticism and does not draw to a self-contained conclusion.
In the near future, the first manned space mission to Mars, Ulysses 1, is a European mission funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and William Meyer, a billionaire Swiss philanthropist. The crew is made up of the best astronauts and European scientists, including French, Italians and Germans. Jeanne Renoir, the crew psychologist, monitors the mental health of the crew. After ten months travelling through space, a few hours from starting the landing procedure, the astronauts learn from William Meyer that they will not be the first astronauts to land on Mars. They were overtaken by a US mission with a faster vessel funded by NASA and a multi-national computer company. The only sign of life from the American mission is an alarming video and the European mission decides to investigate. On Mars the European astronauts do not find the Americans but a Russian, Vladimir Komarov, who died aboard the Soyuz 1 spacecraft in 1967.
Series 1 (2017)
- Hélène Viviès : Psychologist Jeanne Renoir
- Clément Aubert : Second in command Simon Gramat
- Mathias Mlekuz : Swiss billionaire William Meyer
- Jean-Toussaint Bernard : Engineer Yann Bellocq
- Giorgia Sinicorni : Doctor Alessandra Najac
- Côme Levin : Computer scientist Basile Verhoeven
- Adrianna Gradziel : German biologist and geologist Eva Müller
- Christophe Vandevelde : Commander Martin Najac
- Arben Bajraktaraj : Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov
- Natasha Andrews : Gemma Williams
- Ben Homewood : Allan Brody
- Nathan Willcocks : Edward Doisneau
- Shane Woodward : Adam Wayne
- Vincent Londez : Ivan Goldstein
- Tiphaine Daviot : IRN, the on-board computer
- Anton Yakovlev : Yuri Gagarin
- Avant Strangel : Scientist
- Ian McCamy : Deputy scientist
- David Clark : Astronaut 1
- Étienne Guillou-Kervern : Astronaut 2
- Julie Meunier : Nurse talking to Jeanne Renoir
- Lan Hoang Xuan : Ivan Goldstein's nurse
- Manon Giraud-Balasuriya : Jeanne, the little girl
- Yasmin Bau : Jeanne's assistant
- Zélie Guerin Frutoso : Manon
- Alexander Medvedev : Russian engineer
- Sophie Fougère : Wife of Vladimir Komarov
- Mégane Fleury : Sports journalist
- Nicolas Traino : News reporter
- Franka Hoareau : Soviet operator of Soyuz
- Bernard Blancan : Father of Jeanne Renoir
The director Julien Lacombe told the Swiss newspaper 20 Minutes that he was inspired by his love for science fiction, particularly Isaac Asimov's writing, but also for genre cinema including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar and Alien. He was also influenced by the Lost TV series: "We tried to reproduce the same fascination for this series, being careful not to open too many doors to answer every question".
Created by Henri Debeurme, Ami Cohen and Julien Lacombe, Missions is produced by Empreinte Digitale, distributed by AB International Distribution and broadcast as ten episodes.
The project was financed by three local authorities and the "New technologies in production" sector of the National Center of Cinematography and the moving image (CNC). Henri Debeurme, the co-creator and producer, said "We tend to say that genre series have a harder time being supported by traditional sources, but the French audiovisual institutions have provided almost half of the budget."
Regarding the budget, Lacombe told 20 Minutes "We are far from the budgets of the series brought to the screen by the major chains. We knew we would be budget-limited, but the audience should not feel these limits. And we do not want to complain, it forced us to be imaginative."
The scenes of the planet Mars were shot in Morocco. The other scenes were shot in France: in La Rochelle for the scenes inside the spacecraft, near Tours, in an open pit near Chartres and on the slopes of Mont Blanc.
- June 2017 – OCS, French pay-TV
- September 2017 – Shudder streaming service
- May 2018 – BBC4, British free-to-air TV. With English subtitles for non-English dialogue.
The Swiss newspaper 20 Minutes and the Toulouse-based La Dépêche noted that the series should have no trouble crossing the French borders and become a candidate for international export thanks to its theme and the international character of the characters and the languages used (French, English, Italian, German and Russian).
The Belgian free newspaper Metro reported that the retro aesthetic is quite attractive but it was sceptical about the format, commenting that "Episodes of 26 minutes are more suitable for comedies than for SF series".
In the French magazine Télérama, Pierre Langlais wrote, "Despite a tight budget, it manages to make a credible performance, thanks to an elegant staging and impeccable production. On the other hand, the dialogue is often unnatural, and the interpretation is rather uneven."
Clelia Cohen of the French newspaper Libération wrote "From the first images, we can see that there will be no question of debauchery of means or special effects. But the result does not appear broken, quite the opposite. It even draws on the side of a voluntary purity, a visual elegance far from the cheap."
Constance Jamet wrote in Le Figaro "The series, which borrows from Lost and Alien, shows that a successful fiction on the conquest of space does not need a big budget... as long as the good ideas are there."
- MIPTV Media Market, Cannes, Jury Prize in the Full episodes category (2017)
- Series Mania, Critics' Prize (2017)
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- Béot, Ludovic (3 March 2017). ""Missions" : une série française de SF très prometteuse". Les Inrockuptables (in French). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- "BBC4 acquires sc-fi series Missions to broadcast in 2018". Radio Times. 8 October 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Prudom, Laura (27 September 2017). "This new French series could be sci-fi's answer to 'The Returned'". Mashable.
- "BBC Four heads to Mars with new French drama Missions". BBC. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Keslassy, Elsa (24 August 2017). "AMC's Shudder Acquires French Sci-Fi Series 'Missions,' Co-Produces Season 2". Variety. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Weickert, Clio (2 April 2017). "MipDrama: "Missions", une série SF française à la conquête de Mars et des spectateurs Terriens" [MipDrama: "Missions", a French SF series to conquer Mars and Terran spectators]. 20 Minutes (in French). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- "Missions 2017". Amazon. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Bourdeau, Maxime (2 June 2017). ""Missions" sur OCS: la série française de science-fiction qui part sur Mars, et s'en sort étonnamment bien". HuffPost France (in French). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- "Série de science-fiction - Missions". Télérama (in French). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Cohen, Clélia. "Série / "Missions", sans Pesanteur". Libération (in French). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Jamet, Constance. "Missions débarque sur OCS". Le Figaro (in French) (1 June 2017). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Robinson, John (17 May 2018). "Thursday's best TV: Humans; Million Pound Menu". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Hopewell, John (14 April 2017). "10 Highlights From Series Mania 2017". Variety. Retrieved 18 May 2018.