Away 2020 is… called Away, but in the world of website SEO, too many titles with the same name doesn’t help, and it also is the same title as the 2017 film starring Timothy Spall, hence the differentiation.
The first episode begins with Commander Emma Green (Hilary Swank – Logan Lucky) running along the surface of the moon, 35 hours until launch at Lunar Base Alpha. However, as we see in brief flashbacks at that point, she certainly had her fair share of problems in the initial journey towards that astronomical body orbiting Earth which is our only natural satellite, and clearly, she’s not yet over any of this.
Then we go back to 2 weeks earlier, as she’s on Earth, and watching her daughter play football. She’ll leave behind her husband, Matt (Josh Charles), and daughter, Lex (Talitha Bateman – Vengeance: A Love Story, The 5th Wave), the former of whom is also an astronaut, but will be working in mission control. However, they’ll still miss each other despite it being a comparatively small three years apart.
In fact, flashbacks play a large part in this story as it fills in gaps in each of the main characters’ backstories as to what each member of the crew were doing before they were selected to head for the red planet, from veteran Russian spaceman Misha (Mark Ivanir – A Late Quartet, Braquo Season 3), Ram (ex-Eastenders actor Ray Panthaki, also in Gangs Of London) or the very reserved Chinese astronaut, Lu (Vivian Wu), whose story will unfold over time.
But about the initial plot, do the crew think she’s to blame for what happened? Either way, they’ll all have to answer to the powers that be on Earth, and we see how things panned out in the eyes of each of them. However, there’s no love lost between Emma and Misha, since the latter certainly has an issue with Emma running the show. And in episode two when, due to a malfunction, the solar panel known as “Zvezda” didn’t deploy fully – only to 25%, and it requires a couple of people to go outside and fix it…. hey, how about Emma and Misha? That should be fun for both of them(!)
So far, I’m four episodes into Away, and it’ll take the crew 8 months to get to Mars from the moon, and this is also a world where the Skype communication between Earth and Mars is instant, whereas TV stations can’t even link with someone from home without everything glitching out!
Overall, I love a good sci-fi drama, and although I do have a TV catch-up list as long as my arm, Away is a great complement to Apple TV+’s For All Mankind if you’re looking for a good bingewatch. This one also has a slightly wider than usual aspect ratio of approx 2.20:1, so not quite like most films in cinemas, but wider than the usual Netflix offering.
It can be a bit soap-opera-like at times, as we see the ins and outs of their personal lives, but it’s fine if you go with it.
UPDATE: Having now watched the full series, almost each episode is a solid 8/10, although episode 7 rather drags a bit by comparison…
Most episodes feature an almost insurmountable problem that has to be overcome by the crew and/or mission command, and as to whether they succeed? Well, it keeps making me think back the Simpsons episode Deep Space Homer, where Homer goes into space, causes a kerfuffle and they’re all about to die, and then Grandpa, watching it from home, barks, “Oh, of course they’ll make it… it’s TV(!)”
As to whether they do in this drama, you’ll only discover that by watching it, but it is a great watch, overall, and as much as I want to see season 2 right away, I know that filming of that will be delayed due to the current pandemic.
As an aside, I figured that Netflix would want this to last for several seasons, hence, you can’t just nip to Mars and back in 10 episodes. As to how much distance they cover in season 1… you’ll have to watch it to find out.
Away 2020 is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix from Friday September 4th.
Episode 1 Score: 8/10
Episode 2 Score: 8/10
Episode 3 Score: 8/10
Episode 4 Score: 8/10
Episode 5 Score: 8/10
Episode 6 Score: 8/10
Episode 7 Score: 7/10
Episode 8 Score: 8/10
Episode 9 Score: 8/10
Episode 10 Score: 8/10
Series Directors: David Boyd, Charlotte Brändström, Bronwen Hughes, Jet Wilkinson, Edward Zwick
Creator: Andrew Hinderaker
Writers: Jessica Goldberg, Ellen Fairey, Aditi Brennan Kapil, Jason Katims
Music: Will Bates
Emma Green: Hilary Swank
Matt Logan: Josh Charles
Lex Logan: Talitha Bateman
Dr. Kwesi Weisberg-Abban: Ato Essandoh
Misha Popov: Mark Ivanir
Ram Arya: Ray Panthaki
Lu Wang: Vivian Wu
Melissa Ramirez: Monique Curnen
Isaac Rodriguez: Adam Irigoyen
CNSA Head: Fiona Fu
Cassie: Felicia Patti
Darlene Cole: Gabrielle Rose
Meera Patel: Veena Sood
George Lane: Brian Markinson
Zhang Lei: Derrick Su
Dr. Putney: Michael Patrick Thornton
Mei Chen: Nadia Hatta
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.