What, they’re still not back from Mars? Sean and Cody are on number two of a double-header (with last episode) as they take on Ridley Scott’s popular 2015 science fiction drama. In The Martian, plucky and somewhat jerky botanist astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) gets the Home Alone treatment as his shipmates accidentally leave him behind on Mars. It’ll be four years until anyone from Earth can rescue him and he’s only got 68 packets of potatoes and some freeze-dried poop. Wait, wasn’t that the plot of the last film on the show? That’s not a coincidence. Environmental issues discussed include the scientific and environmental accuracy of this film, radiation exposure for astronauts, Mars’s toxic soil, and various schemes and scams involving real-life proposed trips to the fourth rock from the sun.
Why do we keep changing our minds on whether liquid water exists on Mars or not? Are dust storms on Mars as epic as the way they’re portrayed in this film? Why is growing anything in Martian soil a challenge at best, and a suicide mission at worst? Given the amount of radiation and cosmic ray exposure that astronauts in space and on Mars would receive over the course of a mission, would a realistic sequel to this film necessarily be The Martian 2: Watney Dies of Leukemia? What was Mars One and why was it a scam? Why is the idea of putting Libertarians in space alarmingly dangerous? What do all those different kinds of producers listed in a film’s credits actually do? Why do so many movies involve rescuing Matt Damon as their plot premise? All these questions and more are sprouting from the rusty soil ready to be picked in this adventurous episode of Green Screen.
Original 2015 trailer for The Martian.
In the thrilling opening sequence of The Martian, the crew of the Ares III flight are going about their business when a dust storm suddenly changes the parameters of the mission…and proves disastrous for Watney (Matt Damon).
Mission controllers from Earth make the discovery that Watney is still alive. “What is he thinking up there?” The music is actually awesome!
“Fortunately, I know the recipe!” Watney manufactures water on Mars and makes do with what he has to plant enough food for him to survive.
Earth’s eggheads including Rich (Donald Glover) and NASA head Teddy (Jeff Daniels) come up with a daring plan to rescue Watney…using a stapler?
Additional Materials About This Episode:
Water on Mars, The Back and Forth:
“Nasa Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars,” NASA News, September 28, 2015:
Rachel Feltman, “NASA Confirms the Best-Ever Evidence For Water on Mars,” The Washington Post, September 28, 2015:
Sarah Kaplan, “Those Signs of Liquid Water on Mars May Not Be Water After All,” ScienceAlert.com, November 20, 2017:
Dust Storms, Soil and Radiation Issues:
Bruce Dorminey, “Rethinking ‘The Martian:’ Why Dust Storms Wouldn’t Sabotage a Real Mars Mission,” Forbes, August 31, 2015:
Ian Sample, “Mars Covered in Toxic Chemicals that Can Wipe Out Living Organisms, Tests Reveal,” The Guardian, July 6, 2017:
Leonard David, “Toxic Mars: Astronauts Must Deal With Percholrate on the Red Planet,” Space.com, June 13, 2013:
Kenneth Chang, “Data Point to Radiation Risk for Travelers to Mars,” The New York Times, May 30, 2013:
Schemes & Plans for Mars Missions
The Mars Society website (Mars to Stay):
Marcia Dunn, “Buzz Aldrin Joins University Forming ‘Master Plan’ for Mars,” AP News, August 27, 2015:
Website of Josh Richards, “Astronaut” chosen by the now-defunct Mars One project:
Joseph Roche, “I’m on a list to be a Mars One Astronaut–But I won’t see the red planet,” The Guardian, March 18, 2015:
D. Cooper, “Mars One is Dead,” Engadget.com, February 11, 2019:
The famous Apple Macintosh commercial from January 1984, directed by Ridley Scott. This is possibly the most famous TV commercial of all time.
Kimberlee Leonard, “Differences Between a Producer and an Executive Producer,” Smallbusiness.chron.com, March 7, 2019:
Where you can find The Martian: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/the-martian
Next Movie Up: Dr. Zhivago (1965)