Although he didn’t know it at the time, Douglas Preston’s nonfiction book “Dinosaurs in the Attic: An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History” (1986) plays as a collection of research notes and ideas for his later career as a novelist. That wouldn’t begin for another eight years, with “Jennie,” the seeds of which are found here in chapter 11’s recounting of Meshie Mungkut, the first example of a chimpanzee raised as a human.
After his love letters to jazz — “Whiplash” (2014) and “La La Land” (2016) — a film fan wouldn’t be surprised if director Damien Chazelle’s next movie was about Louis Armstrong. But “First Man” (2018) instead chronicles Neil Armstrong, and while it might seem like the pantheon of historical space-program cinema doesn’t need another recounting of Apollo 11, it turns out this is a very welcome addition.
From the beginning, “Mars” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays on National Geographic) has aimed to show what humanity’s colonization of the Red Planet will really be like. Season 1, which aired back in 2016, chronicles the travel and settlement in the 2030s. Now Season 2 brings us into the 2040s, after the initial challenges have been conquered.
“Mars” (9 p.m. Mondays, National Geographic Channel), the year’s most hyped science show, fails to capture the wonder of 2014’s “Cosmos,” which brought science to mainstream audiences with remarkable entertainment value. This is partly because “Cosmos” allowed host Neil deGrasse Tyson and his team to choose fascinating topics from throughout history, whereas “Mars” focuses on one thing: The first manned mission to Mars, which – if one is to buy the premise – will happen within the next two decades.