William Shatner's reality show Stars on Mars will feature Lance Armstrong, Ronda Rousey, and other famous faces.
Recently, William Shatner was able to visit space, exploring the final frontier just as his famous Captain Kirk did long ago. We weren’t sure what this veteran actor was planning to do next, just as we weren’t sure what television studios were going to do to handle the current WGA strike that effectively freezes out scripted content. Fortunately, Deadline has the answer to both questions: Fox is launching an unscripted, competitive reality show called Stars On Mars in which Shatner serves as Mission Control and various celebs like Lance Amstrong, Ronda Rousey, an Ariel Winter compete against each other in simulated Mars conditions.
It may sound crazy, but this latest addition to the reality television stable was very likely inevitable. Both NASA and erratic Twitter CEO Elon Musk have expressed interest in eventually colonizing Mars, and public interest in the red planet is higher than it has been since the glory days of Arnold Schwarzenegger films like Total Recall. While we are many years from actually making it to Mars, it makes sense for Fox to capitalize on the public fascination with the planet, just as it makes sense for them to make Star Trek star William Shatner the heart of the series.
In recent years, William Shatner has kept busy enough with various roles, including a memorable appearance on The Big Bang Theory as himself. However, he hasn’t headlined any major series in a long time, so serving as Mission Control while fellow stars fictionally colonize Mars might be just the shot in the arm his career needs. It probably doesn’t hurt that thanks to the success of shows like Strange New Worlds and Picard, Star Trek is a hotter franchise than ever, so Shatner’s casting on this reality show has more cultural cachet than it otherwise might have.
Aside from William Shatner, the rest of the casting alternates between inspired and insane (in other words: it’s a modern celebrity competition show). As Mission Control, Shatner will be working with a crew that consists of famous biker Lance Armstrong, infamous wrestler Ronda Rousey, Modern Family star Ariel Winter, and several others. While these are all stars in their own right, there can be only one winner in this reality competition, and that winner will earn the coveted title of “the brightest star in the galaxy.”
One interesting wrinkle to Stars On Mars seems to be that it will have a quasi-cooperative design. Even though only one victor can emerge as the brightest star, the show will follow how these stars help each other navigate the difficulties of life on Mars (as Lana Del Rey prophetically sang, “life on Mars ain’t just a song”)…or at least, life on Earth that simulates life on the red planet. However, they will also have to compete in various challenges against one another, and we’re getting the impression that William Shatner will help judge their performances.
Our tentative verdict: it’s not the craziest idea for a reality show we’ve ever heard, and it makes sense to release this show now (it premieres June 5 on Fox) because of the high public interest in Mars as well as the ongoing writer’s strike. The blunt truth is that we won’t get any scripted Hollywood content for a while, and we won’t get to actually visit Mars for much longer than that. Stars On Mars might be as good as it gets, both for fans hungry for new television shows and a William Shatner hungry to command a spacefaring crew once more.