Mars-Based Reality Show: How Stupid Could it Be?

How stupid is the idea of a reality television show from Mars? No stupider than one set in Drew Pinsky's clinic featuring a cast of D-list celebrities embellishing their own ridiculous stories of addiction. I've seen the latter, so why not the former? If Mars One gets off the ground, I just might.

Mars One is a Dutch start-up company apparently consisting of four people: Bas Lansdorp, Arno Wielders, Bryan Versteeg and Suzanne Flinkenflögel -- not quite household names, yet. But everything has to start somewhere and the folks at Mars One have decided to start with a nifty website and a plan to strand Earthlings on Mars where they'll be expected to film themselves living in what resemble large, upended muffin tins while trying to eke out an existence on the red planet despite its inhospitable climes.

At the Martian equator, one can expect a mid-summer's day to reach a balmy 70 degrees, a damn site more livable than the minus-225 you'll find nearer the poles. But on Mars, it's not the temperature that matters; it's the toxicity. The thin Martian atmosphere is 95 percent carbon dioxide, which means trying to breathe there would be even harder than in Beijing. There is no arable soil on Mars, no liquid water, no victuals and no Hooters. It's a crappy place, Mars, no matter what you've read to the contrary.

Facts notwithstanding, Mars One claims it intends to land its first team of colonists on Mars in 2023. If you're out of the loop, that's 10 years before NASA hopes to get there. Perhaps such ambition is warranted, given the company's fundraising goals.

To cover what he figures will be $6 billion in initial costs, Lansdorp told Gizmag, "... [W]e will create appealing media content around the selection of the astronauts, the training, unmanned missions and other topics," adding, "We expect that almost every person on Earth will witness the landing of the first astronauts on Mars."

Assuming he's correct, Lansdorp's plan will raise said billions and shoot a crew of four pioneers into space on a months-long trip to a rock nobody's ever been to where they'll be left with no way of getting back. That's the official plan, taken right off the website. If it all goes according to script, there will be four humans stuck on Mars and we can tune in and watch their hijinks right up to the time one of them goes wing-nut crazy, throws open the doors to the Habitrail and their heads pop open spewing frosty brain bits all over the camera equipment.

On the off-chance that four caged adults don't snap and kill themselves under such circumstances, every two years they can expect another foursome to arrive, meaning the population of Mars could swell to 20 by 2031. And if you're like me, what you're really hoping is that at least a couple of the colonists get their space funk on because surely a baby born on a planet with a third of Earth's gravity would grow super tall and develop uber-cool powers like x-ray vision or the ability to breathe through its eyelids.

I shouldn't scoff. The idea of Mars One has garnered the favor of both Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gerard't Hooft and chairman of the Netherlands Space Society Gerard Blaauw, and wouldn't you know it, joining Hooft and Blaauw is another sponsor, Paul Römer, co-creator of Big Brother.

So back to my original question; just how stupid is the whole idea, really? It can't be any stupider than locking a dozen utterly uninteresting hare-brains in a big house for several weeks to see which one is the least detestable to his or her peers. I remember years back seeing an advertisement for a reality show in which a team of wee harlots cavorted for the nuptial affections of a handsome dwarf. Back in 2004 there was The Swan, a Fox debacle that selected pairs of unfortunately plain and corpulent women to compete against one another to determine who would be less homely following a rigorous course of plastic surgery, orthodontia, diet, exercise, hair extensions and soul destruction.

In 2007, MTV gave us A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila, in which the title character announced her bisexuality on the show's first episode to 16 male and 16 female oily, scantily-clad suitors. And of course there was E!'s The Girls Next Door, which gave us a peek inside the warrened lives of Hugh Heffner's chosen bunny trio who between them were too daft to care that everyone in America but them finds Hugh Heffner four decades past smoochable.

Yes sir, when it comes to reality television, there are some dogs on the air that would make a foursome of Mars-wrecked crackpots seem rather watchable and for my money, there's none doggier than TLC's Sister Wives. What is there to say about a show that promotes a vain, dull polygamist with a cadre of pitiful house fraus? Why does anyone actually care enough to watch what happens to those people and why has someone not stormed their homes and whisked away their offspring?

Moreover, if we're going to have a show about unconventional couplings, why stop at polygamy? That's boring. I think there should be a show called Who's Loving Ewe starring the first twit willing to go on cable and profess his abiding devotion to the wooly love of his life. I'll bet you a dollar I can find a guy somewhere near Wamsutter, Wyoming, willing to sign up.

To tell the truth, if a team of Dutch dreamers does manage to blast a quartet of souls off to another planet with broadcasting equipment in tow, I'll probably watch. I won't if it conflicts with football or Swamp People. But if it airs opposite, say, anything starring Stacy London, I'll watch it with enthusiasm. Even if they have to rein back from their lofty goal, I'll watch a show shot on the moon rather than one shot in a dressing room.

But that's at least a decade off, a long time to stay excited about an upcoming debut. Thankfully there will be three Olympics and three World Cups to distract me between now and then. If I get really lucky, there might be even be a Swamp People spin-off and to y'all producer types out there, I'm not kidding about the sheep thing. Look into that.