Alien planet
May 9, 2005 10:41 PM   Subscribe

Alien planet "The drama takes place on Darwin IV, a fictional planet 6.5 light-years from Earth, with two suns and 60 percent gravity. Having identified Darwin as a world that could support life, Earth sends a pilot mission consisting of the mothership and three probes." Discovery channel feature, Flash heavy site, via Pharyngula.
posted by dhruva (20 comments total)
kinda funny to think that we are the aliens.
posted by reflection at 11:21 PM on May 9, 2005

It speaks to the huge budget of modern video games that many of them lookas good - or better than - most 3D for TV.
posted by flaterik at 11:33 PM on May 9, 2005

Hmm, wasn't educational television at one point educational?
posted by Citizen Premier at 12:05 AM on May 10, 2005

Hmm, wasn't educational television at one point educational?
Yeah, that Stephen Hawking dude is just a cheap front to bring the kids in (I hear he's a huge draw for the "under twenties" and "'tweens"). Like bigger than Jessica Simpson and Miss Piggy combined. Jack Horner's not so bad lookin' hisself. But I think I'd still take Michio Kaku over the other two. His hair is just so dreamy.

Lemme guess, you hated The Future is Wild too?
posted by raygun21 at 12:51 AM on May 10, 2005

The special is based on the book Expedition, by noted SF/F illustrator Wayne D. Barlowe. Major differences between the book and the TV show include the omission of the intelligent aliens who help us get to Darwin IV.

Still, it's an interesting book, well thought-out, based around an ecosystem where none of the 'animal' lifeforms ever evolved eyes.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:19 AM on May 10, 2005

God I hate the Discovery channel and it's ilk. This crap is even worse than the reruns of the Leonard Nimoy UFO specials they used to run daily. Now they generally run in phases, switching back and forth between:
  • Sharks
  • Hitler
  • Choppers
  • eXtreme Renovations, now with a foam mockup of Bob Vila's head mounted on an oak veneer covered aluminum diamond plate
  • UFOs
  • Hitler
posted by blasdelf at 2:57 AM on May 10, 2005

It was cute and fuzzy, but didn't have a good rock beat so I couldn't dance to it.

I happen to agree with a lot that was said, so if I actually had cable I might tune in to it just to be a part of the choir to which they preach, but that's just spinning wheels. I mean okay, it's a big universe, and the odds of us being the only game in town are objectively pretty low. We like to think we're the master of our domain but that's just cuz we've managed to push most of our actual predators on this planet towards extinction. We think that's cuz we're a superior intellect, but a lot of it had to do with luck. Put a naked human alone in a cage with a hungry lion or an angry hyena, we'll see who's actually on top of the food chain.

This isn't going to convert many rich conservatives into shelling out the billions of dollars it would take to get us to another star by the midpoint of the twenty-first century. That's just not gonna happen. They shoulda called this thing Castles In The Sky rather than Alien Planet. It's a lot of speculation that won't amount to much. Whether there actually is life out there, or whether or not one could lay odds on it and gamble the money they'd planned to use on the track that day, is rather silly. We simply don't know.

They also gloss over the facts of how a discovery of alien life is going to affect human culture, philosophy, religion, and a host of other things. They talk about people needing to have an open mind, but since when have human beings ever proven they can do that? Many will either try to pretend they're not there, or shoot first and ask questions later. As a race we still cling to thousands of years old dogma that science has largely dismissed at bogus, because the thought of us not being God's Chosen People is too frightening for some to even contemplate. It's blasphemy to even question it. Catholicism wants people to concentrate on the importance that we believe in God, when the truth is there's no evidence supporting that any supreme intelligence out there in the cosmos believes in us, or even acknowledges our existence. That's gonna turn humanity upside down, when uncertainty becomes more certain than we can even fathom.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:07 AM on May 10, 2005

Oh, jeez.

All you have to know is that Michio Kaku is involved and you know it's crap science...

That guy is the biggest scientist media whore ever...

And where are they getting this idea that we'll reach extra-solar planets anytime this century?

I think the fastest man made object ever currently can go something like one thousandth of one percent of the speed of light.

Even if we could get to one percent of the speed of light, it still would take 400 years to get to the closest star, let alone one known to have orbiting planets...
posted by toftflin at 5:21 AM on May 10, 2005

So much hating going on. Admittedly, this post smacks of Pepsi Blue, but Discovery does seem to have accomplished a fairly faithful rendition of Barlowe's work. However, these hour-long specials always seem like 15-30 minutes of real content repeated between 5-minute commercial blocks. Still, how do we ever expect to get to the stars if we never imagine what it's like? I'd rather see more of this ecological approach to alien ideas rather than less. Also, as many of you know, the movie Pitch Black was influenced by the same source.
posted by piskycritter at 5:45 AM on May 10, 2005

Ye cats. It would have been nice if they had at least mentioned Barlowe somewhere. His designs are the only reason to watch.

Personally, I'd rather see some CGI Thypes.
posted by ToasT at 6:15 AM on May 10, 2005

Come on, this is science fiction, and personally I'm going to sit down and enjoy it as such. I also watched the one about Dragons from about a month ago and I liked it.
posted by poppo at 8:24 AM on May 10, 2005

I saw a commercial for this a few days ago, immediately recognized Barlowe's designs. My college roommate had Expedition, it's a fantastic book to have for when the acid/mushrooms start to wear off.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:57 AM on May 10, 2005

I loved The Future is Wild, so will definitely tune in for this. thanks!
posted by amberglow at 9:15 AM on May 10, 2005

Lemme guess, you hated The Future is Wild too?

Dude, it had sharkopaths. Pretty profoundly silly.

I suppose I should be thankful that it didn't have any mansquitoes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:41 AM on May 10, 2005

I loved _Expedition_, but I'm a little weirded out by the way they're choosing to present this story. Since Discovery treating the designs as though they were come up with by a team of experts, it makes me wonder how many of their other speculative works are based on some classic work of fiction that I _haven't_ heard of. The renderings seem faithful, and if they left out the aliens that helped us get there, that's fine by me. I just wish they would be more upfront about their source material.
posted by ErWenn at 10:24 AM on May 10, 2005

I always loved Wayne Barlows work all the way back to his Illustrated Guide. I own Expedition. It really makes me sad that just how pathetic our ever shrinking real Space Exploration Programs are. I'm quite annoyed that they are pimping this thing as what "Science" thinks is out there.

Well at least the Chinese show some promise.
posted by Lex Tangible at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2005

Agreed - there's no mention of Barlowe anywhere, but surely he had to participate in the 3D design? Expedition was awesome - I spent hours pouring through that thing till the binding came apart. Better than Trek, man.
posted by mouthnoize at 1:31 PM on May 10, 2005

I enjoyed The Future is Wild. I was highly skeptical of the Dragons show, too, but I stumbled into it and got hooked.
posted by gimonca at 1:40 PM on May 10, 2005

It kind of looks like they used Expedition as a handy pre-made ecology to wrap a general discussion of xenobiology around.

The book is excellent, and I'll watch the show even if the talking heads are pointless. I love Barlowe's work.
posted by jiawen at 2:23 PM on May 10, 2005

Why are they talking to physicists? They are going to talk to biologists as well, aren't they? I'm sure the physicists are really bright, but this isn't exactly their field. But they are famous scientists, and that's enough, isn't it?

A really solid discussion on xenobiology would be a very good show.
posted by jb at 8:39 PM on May 10, 2005

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