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Red Planet, the animated TV mini-series 
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Post Red Planet, the animated TV mini-series
Red Planet is a TV miniseries that first aired in 1994 on Fox in their Saturday morning children’s programming. Adapted from Heinlein’s novel by Julia Lewald, the story made some significant changes from the novel but did carry over many characters and important plot elements.

The most noticeable change was to relocate the story from Mars to “New Aries.” By 1994, we knew too much about Mars for it to be a believable setting for Heinlein’s story. New Aries, it seems, is a planet very much like Mars as it was described in the book. The other major change is the central conflict of the story. In the TV series, the threat is not from the “Company” secretly planning to not allow the colonists to migrate as a cost saving move, but instead that the Company is secretly covering up a health hazard from toxins in the mines that are the reason for the colony on New Aries.

The main character is still Jim Marlowe and the story revolves around him and his relationship with a native “roundhead” he names Willis. Frank’s role in the story is filled by Jim’s sister. They have most of the same adventures as in the novel. The only thing I really missed was the trip down the frozen canal in the jet-powered ice scooter and then on skates. That’s replaced by a chase and capture subplot with some sort of robot trackers that is a bit weird and not as effective but not terrible. Willis is depicted in two basic forms, one that looks as he was described in the novel and another that is sort of a cross between a spider monkey and a poodle. I didn't care much for the latter. The water seekers' role is expanded and they are drawn in a sufficiently scary form. The adult Martians, excuse me, "locals", are depicted pretty much as described in the novel, though their eye count may be a bit too high.

I would have preferred a more faithful adaptation but this one is pretty close. I think a good argument can be made that it is the best adaptation of a Heinlein novel to film, so far. Admittedly, that’s not saying much but the TV version of Red Planet is a respectable effort. I enjoyed it.

I should not have been surprised to find that the synopsis for Red Planet at IMDb was written by James Gifford.

The reason I’m writing this now is because of Red Planet’s strange history. In 1994, it was shown as a three part mini-series. It was shown again in 1996, in a differently edited form that added some introductory material but left out other parts to keep the time the same. Since then, it has not been shown again. Nor has it been released on VHS or DVD. Thanks to some fans who recorded the original broadcasts on their home VCRs, copies of varying quality have been available if one searched hard enough. That’s how I saw it originally. The version I saw was incomplete and missing most of the school scenes which was very obvious, at least to anyone familiar with the novel. That situation has changed. A dedicated Red Planet fan has collected all the existing recordings and re-edited them into a complete version of the story. I finally have seen the story at the school.

All the versions are now available for viewing on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/RedPlanetAnimated?feature=watch

Although it’s nice to have the versions as broadcast available as historical reference. I advise watching the “complete” version.

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Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:14 pm
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Post Re: Red Planet, the animated TV mini-series
I've had a complete version, carefully edited together from multiple source, version for some time. It was shown at the Centennial. Surprised to see it finally turn up in public.

I wrote almost the entire entry for IMDb, as it was very sketchy until I had my hands on the complete credits.


Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:00 pm
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Post Re: Red Planet, the animated TV mini-series
I watched it on first run. Was watchable, didn't knock my socks off, but they are superglued on.


Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:39 pm
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Post Re: Red Planet, the animated TV mini-series
JamesGifford wrote:
I've had a complete version, carefully edited together from multiple source, version for some time. It was shown at the Centennial. Surprised to see it finally turn up in public.

I wrote almost the entire entry for IMDb, as it was very sketchy until I had my hands on the complete credits.


I wish I'd known. I'd have asked for a copy. Are there any other lost Heinlein films you have hidden away?

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Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:18 pm
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Post Re: Red Planet, the animated TV mini-series
Blackhawk wrote:
I wish I'd known. I'd have asked for a copy. Are there any other lost Heinlein films you have hidden away?

Moi? I have cases of Heinlein crap. Keep meaning to catalog and grade it all for sale as a collection.

My version of the miniseries may be near-perfect; I had good source tapes and did a lot of meticulous editing to fix problems. It's finished as a commercial-grade DVD; I could be induced to part with copies for something around cost.

I wonder if any of the public material was taken from bootlegs of mine; I tried to keep it close for a variety of reasons but there are avenues that could have put it in someone else's hands. It is tagged, of course. :D


Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:54 pm
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Post Re: Red Planet, the animated TV mini-series
Sign me up for a copy Jim!


Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:54 pm
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Post Re: Red Planet, the animated TV mini-series
I'd be glad to get a copy of that...I have it recorded off-the-air from the original broadcast on VHS, but duping it over to DVD puts it behind a stack of home movies I've haven't gotten to do yet first. I trust Jim's equipment and editing skill better than mine. ;)


Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:51 am
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Post Re: Red Planet, the animated TV mini-series
I do seem to have the material available and working - wasn't sure if I'd archived it, which would make more copies a bigger hassle. But a test run just worked fine.

I don't want to make too big a thing out of this - radar, under, etc.

PM me if you are interested.


Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:15 am
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