I’ve never been much of an outer space guy when it comes to movies and television.
Never watched “Star Trek,” never got into the Matt Damon “The Martian” flick, and yeah, I really liked the Tom Hanks “Apollo 13” movie, I’m just not a big science fiction fan when it comes to planetary travel.
Given that, my strong endorsement of the new Netflix show “Away” should be even more impressive considering on the surface, it isn’t my kind of thing: But “Away” is truly terrific, and well worth your time.
Hilary Swank stars as Emma Green, the commander of the first manned space flight to Mars, a journey that’s expected to take her away from her astronaut husband Matt (Josh Charles) and daughter Lex for three years. Emma is a completely driven person, one who’s whole mission in life seems to have been to get to this moment.
Matt is similarly career-driven, but for medical reasons that will be explained, is not allowed to go into space, and he becomes the rock Emma depends on, both in the space shuttle and at home.
The crew of Atlas (the ship’s name) is terrific, including Lu, a driven Chinese woman who’s ticketed to be the first person to step foot on Mars; Mischa, a Russian cosmonaut as arrogant as he is brilliant; Kwese, an African botanist who is the least-experienced person on the trip, and Ram, a veteran Indian astronaut who is fiercely loyal to Emma and a brilliant engineer as well.
The show is at its best in the Atlas scenes, as the incredible visual effects compete with the dialogue and acting for your attention. This show clearly cost a ton to make, but it’s worth it. The performances from the astronauts are all stellar, and the tension and dramatic scenes are punctuated by some really funny scenes as well (as usual, peeing and pooping in space gets discussed)
Here’s the trailer…
It’s a fantastic, heartwarming show, a journey to Mars that never feels rushed, or pointless, or cliched.
There are some downsides to “Away,” for sure; some of the scenes involving Charles and his daughter, Lex (played very well by Talitha Bateman) feel very soap opera-ish, and I’ll admit that there are times when the scientific space talk went completely over my head and I had no idea exactly what problem the Atlas crew was trying to fix.
But overall, especially in the last few episodes, “Away” feels like a fantastic, thrilling journey, one that you’re rooting for the whole time.
I definitely recommend checking it out on Netflix, and hey, it’s only a one-season commitment, as sadly the streaming service has announced they’re cancelling “Away” after this year.
A real shame, because it’s such an uplifting, heartwarming show.
**Next up today, my wife and I are doing our annual fundraiser for the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in New York City, a place that’s near and dear to my heart.
When we lived in Manhattan I volunteered weekly at the second-busiest soup kitchen in America, and found it to be a wonderful, humane place. More than 1,000 meals per day are served there, and it takes dozens of volunteers to make things run.
Every year at Thanksgiving Holy Apostles holds a Fast-A-Thon fundraiser, where people like us who normally eat three meals a day eat only one, to empathize and understand what so many homeless and hungry Americans go through every day.
Because of the pandemic economy, approximately 1.5 million New Yorkers can’t afford food right now, and emergency funding from New York state to help places like Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen is running out.
If you’re able to help out, even a little bit, I would greatly appreciate it. They do such wonderful work at the kitchen, and I promise they never let me cook so I ever poisoned anybody. Here’s the link to our donation page, and thanks.
**And finally today, it was a strange week in the NFL, with most of the games starting at 4 p.m. Eastern thanks to CBS having The Masters golf tournament final round. But that meant almost all the best action happened late, with nothing better than the play of the year (above).
Buffalo led Arizona, 30-26, after a thrilling back-and-forth game. The Cardinals were just over midfield, with 11 seconds left, and no timeouts remaining. Superstar-to-be QB Kyler Murray scrambled around, nearly got sacked, then heaved a Hail Mary in the direction of DeAndre Hopkins, standing in the end zone.
There were three Bills near him, and they tried to do what you’re supposed to do: Knock the ball down. But Hopkins went up over them, made a sensational catch, and Arizona won the game, 32-30. Just incredible.
— The New York Giants are now 3-7, and probably the favorites to win the NFC East.
You read that right. A team that two weeks ago had only won one time this year, might get to the playoffs. The Giants beat Philadelphia Sunday, 27-17, and looked like the better team.
And in the epic shitshow that is the NFC East in 2020, they might only need two or three more wins to win the division and make the playoffs. Just astonishing.
— Speaking of surprises, the Miami Dolphins look like a very solid football team. Rookie QB Tua Tagavailoa (going to take me a while to learn to spell that) notched another win Sunday, the Fins are 6-3, and look very well set up to make the playoffs. Damn them.
— Fantastic, selfless play by Cleveland Browns stud running back Nick Chubb Sunday. The Browns were up, 10-7, over Houston, and the Texans were out of timeouts. With a minute to go, Chubb took a handoff and sprinted around the end all the way to the goal line. He could’ve scored, easily, and put his team up 10.
But if he did that, the Texans would’ve gotten the ball back. If he stopped short of the end zone, the game would be over, because all the Browns would’ve had to do was kneel on the ball.
Ninety-nine percent of NFL players score and celebrate themselves. Chubb didn’t. He ran out of bounds at the 1-yard-line, and the Browns won.
Just a great, smart, unselfish play. Very un-Browns like!
— Finally, shout-out to a kicker. The Lions’ Matt Prater hit a 59-yard field goal as time expired to give his team a 30-27 win Sunday. For one week, at least, he won’t be “The Lonesome Kicker.” Adam Sandler, take us out…