Monday, October 18, 2021

Whether you’re on Mars or just tired of the colonists in your own backyard, these TV series offer plenty of potential

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Welcome to Trailing Skies, a new feature we started running several weeks ago that takes a look at the latest TV trailers and finds if they have potential. We like to think of it as a season-long sneeze. See more on Monday.

You’ve heard this one before — a group of humans living on a sustainable colony Earth reverts to Mars. No, it isn’t some cheesy television show, in which a group of fictional Americans and aliens come together to live on another planet.

Instead, it’s a pitch for a new NBC series that will soon air a pilot episode. Called “La Brea,” the sci-fi story is about an isolationist, middle-class community whose members decide to abandon the confines of their multi-level housing buildings in favor of the solar-powered Martian landscape. Written by former “Daily Show” producer Neal Brennan, it was directed by Tony Scott (“Top Gun”).

Yet this particular idea is not that hard to imagine. Here are some other critically acclaimed dramas that explore the same theme.

“Re-claimed” (BBC America) If you’re looking for other takes on the abandoned colony theme, check out “Re-claimed,” a series about the inhabitants of an abandoned Gold Coast estate who move back to the house. After all, what would humanity’s Mars colony be without a colony ship full of dysfunctional folks trying to live there? BBC America’s adaptation was based on Colin Roach’s 2011 novel of the same name.

“Reckless” (USA) The title sounds eerily similar to the 1912 novel “Reckless!” — by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne — that provides the tale. It’s about a North Carolina woman who allows herself to be captured by a feral Native American, and follows her courtship and marriage to an outlaw who is raising a child she had with another man. And while I’m not entirely sold on the fidelity of this version, “Reckless” is led by William Hurt and Beau Bridges.

“Westworld” (HBO) Writer-director Jonathan Nolan, the creator of “Person of Interest,” is best known for his series set in a futuristic amusement park about artificial humans, as well as his 2016 feature film, “Interstellar.” But he seems to take a few ideas from his 2003 short film, “The Eleventh Hour,” in which a family reverts to the human world after moving into a place where they think it’s a resort. (Or, as Nolan put it, “a novelty museum with magic.” Mocked by “SNL” and Entertainment Weekly.)

“Lost Girl” (Syfy) This Syfy network series follows a cyborg assassin as she seeks to avenge the murder of her lover. If it sounds familiar, it should. Anna Silk (half of the “Being Erica” co-creators) created the series alongside fellow cast member/husband Zack Reason, who directed the second season’s third episode.

“The Expanse” (Syfy) A two-hour pilot of this American-Canadian series is set to air in February. Based on the best-selling book series, “The Expanse” centers on a colonized Mars where there are nearly impossible odds.

“Stranger Things” (Netflix) I haven’t had a chance to binge through “Stranger Things” yet, so I really can’t provide any support for this one. But I will say that creator-creator Matt Duffer should take a cue from the tiny particle accelerator-wielding genius Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and start having sci-fi campy fun.

“Preacher” (AMC) This series was not only renewed, but the cover of Entertainment Weekly has been floating around online. The premise: A Louisiana pastor becomes possessed by the devil. I know I don’t have to say anything more about that.

These are just some of the dozens of television shows you could watch and enjoy. I am more than eager to hear your recommendations on which of the above descriptions you will be watching. There may even be a difference.

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