What Science Fiction fan has not read Ray Bradbury’s groundbreaking book, The Martian Chronicles. The book is not really a novel, but a series of shorter works that follows the settlement of Mars. Even though the Martian canals of medieval times were already disproved by the 1940’s when Bradbury began the project, he insisted on conforming his Martian landscape to such fancy. The series of works translate well to the mini-series format; however, the necessary f/x to pull it off just weren’t available in a 1980 TV bud…et. Cast members like Rock Hudson and Darren McGavin help to elevate the made-for-TV simplicity of the script. The mini-series is a direct allegory to European exploration and eventual exploitation of North America. The Martian natives succumb to human disease and commercial spirit much like Native Americans during the time of the conquistadors.
The first two manned missions to Mars have ended in apparent disaster. Mission Control head Col Wilder (Hudson) insists on making the trip himself. The third mission leads to the colonization and industrialization of Mars.
It would be naïve to expect anything more than the Dolby Digital mono track supplied with this disc. There’s noticeable high-end distortion, particularly when the score attempts any inclination to aggressiveness. Dialogue is fair most of the time. A disappointment for the most part.
Each of the three segments of The Martian Chronicles is featured in the expected 1.33:1 full frame format. This is a 1980 made for TV program, and it shows. Again I was pretty disappointed. Colors run like 2nd or 3rd generation video tape dubs. There’s enough instability in the contrast to make me wonder if they forgot to shut off the macro vision before making the transfer. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. What is more probable is that the original source tape has developed excessive wear in 25 years.
Not a thing.
OK. So what do we have here? Quite a mixed bag. The mini-series is surprisingly good. I’m sure the studio didn’t expend too much money on the transfer or clean-up. There is probably a limited audience for this sort of thing. This is one of those DVD’s I found looked better on my analog tube set. Maybe this should be a rental. It’s a good weekend of entertainment. Give it a little chance and “I’ll show you those Martians now”.
Special Features List