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Pioneer One

I haven’t watched the first episode all the way through yet, but anyone attempting ambitious internet television deserves support, all the more so when they’re trying to make a serious piece of speculative fiction. Here’s the site for PIONEER ONE, and here’s the first episode:

Published in researchmaterial


  1. Better than most of what I see on network TV!

  2. Brandon E Brandon E

    I enjoyed it. I need to see where it goes. I dig the idea of a Martian Soviet versus Russian Capitalist Technocrat cold or even hot war. I don’t see them developing on that given the largely American cast but still would be neat.

    The monologue on the false alarm missile attack was a bit misleading. Petrov was never dishonorably discharged. He was praised by his superiors but neither officially rewarded or punished. He voluntarily retired early and was adamant the he had never been forced out.

    The idea that the Soviets were somehow more gung ho about destroying the world then the United States psychotic Reagan administration and their hard on for biblical apocalypse is pretty silly and nationalistic.

    Despite that relatively short scene, I enjoyed it. It did a decent job of revealing the situation with limited filming locations and budget and without making the characters seem like narration devices. A sometimes tricky thing to do.

  3. hi, here’s josh bernhard answer to the petrov issue (i asked him the same thing in an interview i made for

    “As I understand, he was discharged, though not dishonorably. (I could be wrong about that. I know that his superiors were not happy with the weaknesses the incident exposed in their system.) I was aware I was fudging certain details, but the gist of the story was correct, which is the main thing. And to put it in context: this story is being recalled by an old school old cold warrior who heard it years ago and is telling it to make a point. I think the bit we fudged was more than justified. Also, I understand a lot of viewers don’t even realize the story he’s telling is true, so at least they’re learning something even if they don’t know it!”

    so both the “dishonorably discharged thing” and the “silly and nationalistic tihng” are not part of the message of pioneer one, far from it.
    you are referring to something said by this old “cold warrior”, something that makes perfectly sense if you try and look at the monologue from his point of view.

  4. Drax Drax

    You should watch the whole thing, Warren. It’s probably an innocent coincidence, but this “Pioneer One” thing is A LOT LIKE “ORBITER.” Other than that little niggler, it’s well-written and acted and pretty compelling.

  5. I’ve watched the entire pilot and wow. The potential and heart poured into this project is palpable.

    Also, I’d swear Warren Ellis had a hand in the script. The characters are not as curmudgeonly as Ellis’. But you can see it there, lurking beneath the surface.

    There’s also hints of Aaron Sorkin in his prime on West Wing.

    Maybe they’re some sort of bastard Ellis/Sorkin progeny.

    The possibilities on that is dizzying.

    @Drax: I noticed the Orbiter connection, too. I’m feeling a bit of Ocean and Global Frequency of all things as well. The unaired pilot and the books.

  6. Sveinung Sjåstad Sveinung Sjåstad

    I think what I enjoy most about the show is the pacing. They take their time with the story and the lines. Not the unrealistic constant babbling of the previously mentioned West Wing and, even worse, Gilmore Girls.
    And the ol’ coot telling his cold war story was a good example of that. That was the part that stood out most for me. He told it well, and he told it like an actual person would have told it. It’s all very low key.

    If they push through a whole series without anyone dropping to their knees screaming “Nooooo!”, or “Whyyy!” I shall be satisfied. But I suspect they will go further than that, and create something truly memorable, at least as far as I can tell from that one first episode.

  7. […] Pioneer One is a done-on-the-cheap Internet-only series going the crowd-sourced route. The pilot below was shot for only $6,000 (with a lot of donated effort), and they’re raising funds to shoot the rest of the series. Indeed, they’ve already met their early goals and the series will continue shooting. Check out the pilot episode below, and then consider helping them out. Found via Warren Ellis. […]

  8. […] a boost we needed.  We’re also getting attention from other sites such as a shoutout from Warren Ellis (creator of the new movie Red, starring Bruce Willis) and Wired […]

  9. Brandon E Brandon E

    Thanks for the info Zefram.

    I truly enjoyed the show. I just get touchy about the threat of silly nationalism. Plus, my internet access is generally off of free wireless, from bars, in the middle of a series of beers.

    I’m waiting for the next episode, and in a month or so, when the money is right, I plan on throwing some small amount of cash towards it.

  10. […] Pioneer One is the latest project from Josh Bernhard and Bracey Smith whose previous indie feature The Lionshare, became VODO’s biggest success to date with over 450,000 downloads since its release. The success of the project inspired the writer/director duo to develop this quality drama in collaboration with VODO and its distribution partners. With a successful distribution of the pilot they’re hunting for the donors and sponsors that will make the continuation of the show possible. The show’s pilot was shot for just $6000, raised through the micro-funding platform Kickstarter. “This production was possible due in no small part to the willingness of talented, professional people working for free,” explains Bernhard. “From actors to composers, they did this because they believed in the project and wanted to see it happen.The production was a journey in and of itself. Check out the video blogs that were posted to the web that tell the story from script to finished episode”: (pioneer one @, via […]

  11. […] week, I watched the first episode of a science fiction series called Pioneer One. (Via Warren Ellis’s blog.) It’s being produced directly for the internet, and is being funded using a micro-funding […]

  12. Rae Rae

    I am so glad I’m in the position to actually donate a bit of cash to this. I can’t wait to see more.

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