'Darth Vader shopping cart': Lance Armstrong in Stars on Mars
At the beginning of a new there's a Stars on Mars reality show surprise when Neil Armstrong is revealed to be a contestant. This is a shock on two fronts. Why would the first man on the moon sink to a tasteless simulation of life on the red planet? You also have to pay tribute to his determination to be on screen, given that he died in 2012.
By all accounts, the real Neil Armstrong was modest and spoke quietly – as opposed to the flattering ghost that strides through the wobbly fake airlock at the beginning of “Stars on Mars”. That's because it's disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong – though the distinction initially eludes fellow contestant actress Ariel Winter, who believes she's in the company of a NASA legend.
“He’s a real fucking astronaut… you need to google him,” says the Modern Family star. “You should know everything about him because he's so cool.”
Lance, showing the humility and accessibility that will be the hallmark of his time on Mars, quickly brings her up to date. “If I were Neil Armstrong, I would be dead,” he says. “Right now, I'd rather be Lance Armstrong.”
He might prefer Lance. But those views are not necessarily shared by the South Australian Film Corporation, which helped fund the series, which has just debuted on the American Fox network. Stars on Mars was filmed in the “Martian” surroundings of the abandoned opal-mining town of Coober Pedy in South Australia, but officials who invested Australian taxpayer dollars in the project said they were “unaware” of Armstrong's involvement.
Well, now they know. Not only is Armstrong the highest-level celebrity involved in this “simulation” of life on a Martian colony, but he's also a ready-made villain. No one mentions the doping scandal that saw him stripped of his Tour de France titles, except for Armstrong, who refers to it in hilariously oblique terms when talking about his “very difficult social life.”
There is nothing difficult. about the figure he portrays in Stars on Mars: he's a badass villain, a profitable Darth Vader. While training with the NFL star, he notes that the average football game lasts seven seconds, while the Tour de France lasts weeks. “Who the hell is an athlete now,” he smirks.
Stars on Mars is being produced by Fremantle, the British reality TV powerhouse behind The X Factor, American Idol and Storage Wars (along with more niche screenings like “Are You Harder Than a Boy Scout?”). “Stars on Mars” is cut and paste: it's basically “I'm a celebrity… Get me out of here!” crossed with “The Martian” by Ridley Scott.
The fun began with the arrival of celebrities on Mars. Armstrong and Winter were joined by The Real Housewife Portia Williams, Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse (aka McLovin of Super Bad), NFL stars Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman, wrestler Ronda Rousey, actress Tallulah Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis ). and Demi Moore), singer Tinashe and Vanderpump Rules “television host” Tom Schwartz.
William Shatner narrates the series
They are greeted by Star Trek's William Shatner, who remotely emerges from his captain's log cabin on Earth to set tasks and deliver a fake voice-over (“In space, only one will make it to the end”) .
Frivolous celebrities and a sugary host can be a winning formula. It's easy to imagine the British version of “Stars on Mars” making a splash – imagine, say, Rebecca Vardy and Christopher Biggins arguing over whose turn it is to put the kettle on 140 million miles from Earth (it's not clear if “Stars on Mars” is really Fox will be broadcast in the UK). But American celebrities are so image-conscious that they are unwilling to do or say anything that will damage their brand and cause anyone to forget about it – except for the faceless Armstrong.
The nuts and bolts of Stars on Mars are boring. too much. According to the real Mars, their communication with Shatner on “Earth” is delayed by 13 minutes. And they have to wear bulky space suits when they leave their Big Brother-style complex of huts and tunnels.
Otherwise, there's little point in being anywhere but on Planet Reality TV. After getting to know each other, the first task of the celebrities is to appoint the equivalent of a team leader in The Apprentice. They reward Lynch, who gets an upgrade to his own room, where he rests for the rest of the episode.
MarsLovin: Christopher Mintz-Plasse accepts challenge
Meanwhile, Shatner appears on a video monitor to explain that another celebrity is waiting to join her (comedian Natasha Leggero). Unfortunately, her capsule refuses to open. Marchon puts Armstrong in charge of the rescue and the cyclist drives off, now completely unattractive on two different planets.
“Many of us would die if it were really Mars,” he shrugs. Mintz-Plasse shortly before his fellow Martians voted for him (one contestant receives a boot per episode).
As the show goes on, celebrities must cope with dwindling supplies. As Fox's parent company, Disney, embarks on a belt-tightening campaign, vacuum-packed food isn't plentiful. But while they have the ability to grow vegetables — like Matt Damon in The Martian — at least in the first part, the members are more interested in standing and chatting than doing any real work.
< p> The very essence. the oddity of the premise has given Stars on Mars a decent amount of buzz so far. But with such boring results, would the audience be willing to say in their orbit? Forget about Mars. Ultimately, the real red haze may be due to the blush of the executives who commissioned it.
“Stars on Mars” is now on Fox