“The First” With Sean Penn

Sean Penn starring in a TV/Streaming series? Yup. But THR says: ‘Like mustaches and movie musicals, the popularity of Mars as an onscreen destination waxes and wanes. In the early 2000s, a wave crested with Mission to Mars, Red Planet and Ghost of Mars. After a long fallow period, there’s been a renaissance of interplanetary tourism with The Martian, Nat Geo’s blandly titled Mars and Hulu’s new drama The First. The main thing setting apart Beau Willimon‘s eight-episode take on space exploration is that it doesn’t actually get to Mars. That might sound like a spoiler or a criticism, but it’s a matter of establishing perspective and expectations. Going into The First anticipating fast-moving thrills and

big-budget adventure is almost certainly a recipe for disappointment. Meet the show on its own terms by knowing that it’s a drama about fierce dedication and an uncomfortable intersection of altruism and selfishness. The series has its eyes on the heavens but its feet on the ground.

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