View Full Version : Pioneer One

2010-Jun-18, 04:36 PM
I'm watching this at the moment:

It's free to download, under a Creative Commons license.

The premise looks that it may be interesting, but I'm eight minutes (out of 35) in it and I felt compelled to open a thread here. :) So far there's an observatory performing an "astrological" survey, and apparently no-one is monitoring US airspace, as Homeland Security initially identifies a capsule re-entry as a crashed airliner...

If necessary, this thread may need to be moved to "Bad Astronomy in the media".

Edited to add: Weak. The "cheapness" shows, but I don't mind it, what I mind is the bad writing. And not-so-good acting. For a SF series, there has been very little science so far - I have the impression that they are consciously avoiding technical terms - and the space expert they recruit is a walking cliché. Who has two degrees, but needs Google to remember that a nuclear Russian satellite has crashed in Canada (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosmos_954).

2010-Jun-22, 01:33 AM
Who has two degrees, but needs Google to remember that a nuclear Russian satellite has crashed in Canada (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosmos_954).

To be fair, I wouldn't say that's a bit of trivia that everyone would immediately be able to recall off the top of their head.

Van Rijn
2010-Jun-22, 06:43 AM
To be fair, I wouldn't say that's a bit of trivia that everyone would immediately be able to recall off the top of their head.

That's probably an age related thing. It was pretty big news at the time. It's interesting what stays in public knowledge and what fades. I think a nuclear reactor going splat over the countryside is a far bigger deal than Three Mile Island, but TMI is much better remembered. Of course, if it had landed somewhere with more population it probably would have gotten more notice.

2010-Jun-22, 10:56 AM
To be fair, I wouldn't say that's a bit of trivia that everyone would immediately be able to recall off the top of their head.

Well, the character was introduced as a space exploration enthusiast, so he was hardly "everyone". The Google bit was superfluous - being an expert, he could have just mentioned the Cosmos story. But the whole scene doesn't make much sense: according to the expert, the Cosmos crash somehow makes it unlikely that a second nuclear-powered Russian satellite would crash in the same general area (Canada). Probability doesn't work that way, but even if we ignore that, it makes perfect sense to guide a dangerous satellite to re-enter over the first convenient scarcely-populated territory.

Anyway, did anyone else see it? The low-quality version is about 350 MB and the torrent is very aggressively seeded - more than 16,000 seeds at the moment, so download speed will be fast. I don't think it's worth 40 minutes of your time, though, unless you really don't have anything to do. :) I will follow the series and report if the quality improves in the next episodes.

2011-Jan-10, 03:00 PM
The second episode is out. I'm downloading it. I want to see if it's better than the first one.

2011-Jan-10, 04:36 PM
Blergh. Not much better than the first one. The space expert has finally learned some terminology and dropped "in-situ resource utilization". (I entertain the illusion that it was me who clued them in (http://openattitude.com/2010/06/16/pioneer-one-episode-one-is-here/#comment-6661). :)) Otherwise, everyone is still vague.

Said space expert may be a stand-in for Robert Zubrin - he has written a book about colonizing Mars and in a flashback was shown to be testifying at some kind of (Congressional?) hearing. His opponents were atrocious strawmen, but his arguments were not much better. He tried to explain some stuff to the agents in a briefing, but most of them got bored/distracted very quickly and walked out. Was that a dig at the people who have insisted on scientific accuracy/terminology after the first episode? Oh, and he found a fossil in one of the Martian rocks brought back by the Soyuz. "So he is, like, totally vindicated." :) Though even that was not played/written well. And the fossil itself was not shown. Cheapskates. Couldn't they at least borrow an amonite from some amateur geologist friend?

In short: This show was not made by geeks, or for geeks.

2011-Mar-30, 04:08 PM
The third episode have come out. I watched out of masochism. :)

It continues in the same vein:
- The Russian cosmonaut kid breaks his arm hitting the railings of the bed. Despite the X-rays, nobody (including the doctor) knows what's wrong with him until the Space Expert (SE) points out that astronauts lose bone density. If I was that doctor, I would have been frantically reading up on space medicine from the moment they had dumped that patient on my head... Also, X-ray pictures show bone density.
- One of the agents repeats the space pen meme ("NASA spent millions on a space pen, the Russians used a pencil") while in a meeting with the SE and the SE didn't bother to correct him. The Russians liked to use "tried and tested hardware", you see, therefore it's not strange that no trace of a Russian Martian program can be found.
- The SE: "declination above the horizon" (of the Earth in the Martian sky)... *facepalm*

The pacing is getting a bit better, though there are still awkward pauses and empty conversations in a grave tone. It's supposed to be a captial-D Drama, after all, but... A lot of it, especially in the first two episodes, feel like filler. I would have thought that with such a limited budget they would be making every minute count, but on second thoughts, lots of long shots means that the price-per-minute can be kept down.

2011-Apr-28, 07:22 PM
The fourth episode is out and available for download:

Almost all of it deals with politics. The NSA are wondering what to do with the cosmonaut boy. The higher-ups still think he's a terrorist and try to get information out of the Russian ambassador. (Some rather annoying dialogue and stereotypes there.) The Outer Space Treaty is discussed while they try to figure out how to counter the Russians' demands. Meanwhile, rumours about the quarantine start leaking in the media. There's a astrobiologist CT who is convinced that this is a cover-up for an "Andromeda strain" situation, so "our" NSA agents send him to a talk show to be laughed at and discredit the rumours. (I found the whole scene rather unconvincing, but perhaps I've spent too much time around real CTs. :))

Have anyone else watched the series? I wander if the people who know more than me about acting and stuff will have the same impressions about the acting/writing/pacing/plot/etc.

2011-Apr-30, 06:26 PM

2011-Apr-30, 06:47 PM
Thanks Daggerstab, I am going to take your critique as enough to save me from watching when I can find a video of 2001 instead.

2011-Dec-14, 01:00 PM
The sixth episode have come out. This concludes the first season. I wonder if there will be a second one. :)
Minor spoiler: KAL 007 got a shout-out.

By the way, the first episode has been "fixed" and they have removed the "astrological survey" scene. :) I have to search my files to see if I still have the original.