Space Odyssey
A Voyage to the Planets

Starring: Martin McDougall, Rad Lazar, Joanne McQuinn, Michelle Joseph and Mark Dexter
BBC Worldwide
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: PG
Available 15 November 2004

Imagine staring out over the superheated lava fields of volcanic Venus, getting swallowed by a giant Martian twister, or trying to drill on the disintegrating surface of a comet. Space Odyssey tells the gripping story of a human expedition to the other worlds of our solar system. Live through the dangers and the spectacle of this - the ultimate adventure for humankind...

Five astronauts embark on an extraordinary and awe-inspiring journey. Their mission: to land on and explore the most extreme worlds that orbit the Sun. As nerve-wracking drama gives way to incredible spectacle, they are taken to their physical and psychological limits in an ultimate voyage of discovery.

The five astronauts are Tom Kirby (Martin McDougall) the American mission commander, Yvan Grigorev (Rad Lazar) a Russian flight engineer, Zoe Lessard (Joanne McQuinn) a Canadian geologist, Nina Sulman (Michelle Joseph) a British life scientist and John Pearson (Mark Dexter) a British medical officer.

With input from NASA, the European Space Agency, real-life astronauts and other scientists, this DVD is more science-fact than science fiction. Using feature film digital effects and the latest scientific findings, Space Odyssey is the most accurate vision of a human exploration of our neighbouring planets that has so far been created.

This two hour, two part BBC drama is incredibly compelling viewing. It's not surprising then to learn that the people behind this were also responsible for Walking With Dinosaurs. Fantastic effects, gripping drama and as much real science thrown into the mix as possible.

The only complaint I had was that some of the acting was a little unbelievable in places. Also, I didn't understand why they had to insert a villain in this drama. There is a guy on earth who doesn't think twice about putting his crews life at risk as long as they come back with data that he can use.

Extras on this collection are pretty impressive too. These include a documentary on the numerous robot missions that have blasted off into outer space, a series of behind the scenes featurettes, fact files and photo galleries.

I really enjoyed the behind the scenes featurettes - especially the one that centred on how they filmed the zero gravity scenes. These show how some of the effects were created and what locations on Earth were used to simulate Mars and Venus. They also explain how they managed to turn the actors into believable astronauts in such a short period of time.

Also worthy of note is Don Davis's rousing score which complements the visual feast.

This is a fantastic piece of television and is an interesting look at what it would be like if we could travel to the other planets in our solar system.


Ray Thompson

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