Pioneer One

Had I not been so sorely distracted in 2010, I’d have known about, and definitely would have watched, the web series Pioneer One. It premiered that year and ran for six episodes.

But I didn’t and I didn’t, so I made up for lost time this weekend by downing the whole half dozen as one big bolus of sci-fi deliciousness, and then I went looking for more.


All I found was the frozen fundraising page where self-described “crossmedia distributor” Vodo is trying – or tried – to cover future production costs. The meter is stuck at $93,368 toward a goal of $100,000.

Which would be lunch money if Vodo were trying to jumpstart the return of a network show, but Pioneer One’s network was the internet, otherwise known as crowd funding. According to Wikipedia, the pilot episode cost $6,000 to produce.

Needless to say, there are no A-list or even B or C-list actors listed among the dramatis personae. And forget about CGI, boy howdy. But the premise (sudden evidence of a secret Soviet era manned mission to Mars) is compelling and the central characters well wrought. Not great, mind you, but of a piece with the shoestring aesthetic and to that extent following in the footsteps of Golden Age gems like The Philco Television Playhouse … unapologetically raw and a bit too stagey at times for 21st century screen work, nevertheless focused on the storyteller’s art with just enough chutzpah to pull willing audiences right the hell on in.

If you’re such an audience, you’ll want to watch, and you may do so here. The title graphics are killer, by the way. Sweet tracking shots, too.