This past week, I had the chance to check the HISTORY channel’s newest drama, PROJECT BLUE BOOK. Being someone whose always had a casual interest in aliens, I was initially drawn to the show due to the fact that it intertwined true life accounts with government conspiracies which begged the question…. Could there be life outside of what we know on Earth? The 10-episode show, which premiered this past Tuesday, January 8, 2019, is executive produced by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future), and stars Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones), Michael Malarkey (The Vampire Diaries), Laura Mennell (Watchmen), Ksenia Solo (Black Swan), and Neal McDonough (Minority Report).
The synopsis from The HISTORY Channel is as follows: “Dr. J. Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen), a brilliant yet underappreciated college professor, is recruited by the U.S. Air Force to spearhead a clandestine operation called Project Blue Book. Along with his partner, the debonair Air Force Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey), he is summoned to investigate UFO sightings around the country and use science to discover what really happened. However, when some encounters cannot be explained away and cases remain open, Hynek begins to suspect that he has been duped by the government into a larger conspiracy to cover up the truth. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War and rising Atomic Era, each episode will draw from actual Project Blue Book case files, blending UFO theories with authentic historical events from one of the most mysterious eras in United States history.”
I think it’s important, especially for us younger folk, to make note of the time period which is briefly mentioned in the description above. Taking place in 1952, a lot was going on in the world, especially between the United States and Russia. There was a lot of tension and fear brewing between the two countries due to the Cold War, which amounted to the government being suspicious of anything that they found unidentifiable in the sky. It was also at this time that the Hydrogen Bomb was being tested and civilians were being prepped in case of a nuclear attack with stores going so far as selling bomb shelters. Around this time is when the United States Air Force created Project Blue Book with the objective to determine if UFOs were a threat to national security and to scientifically analyze UFO related data (Source). Throughout its 18 years (running from 1952 to January, 1970), Project Blue Book collected “12,618 UFO reports” out of which only a small percentage were deemed to be unexplainable (Source).
Now that we’ve gotten some of the historical facts out of the way, let’s talk about the show. For the most part I enjoyed it, though I feel like it suffered from being a bit too slow-burn. Each episode draws from the actual case files of UFO theories that took place during this time. Some of these documented cases include the Lubbock Lights of Lubbock, Texas, the Flatwoods Monster in West Virginia, the Gorman Dogfight of Fargo, North Dakota, and many others. To me, this was one of the more interesting aspects because a lot of these stories I had never heard of, prompting me to go into a deep dive on the interwebs to learn more. The other aspect of the show that drew me in was how the government played into everything. I find it rather hard to believe that we are the only people in the entire universe so with that in mind I do believe there is something out there. I’m not saying that there are little green or gray aliens of the variety that we see so heavily depicted in pop culture, but I do believe there has to be something else out there. This leads me to believe that the government would absolutely try to cover that up, whether it be for good reasons or more nefarious ones.
Throughout the 6 episodes I watched, we really get an idea of where our two leads stand on UFO’s; however, there determination to find scientific proof that UFO’s don’t exist is tested numerous times resulting in some scenarios that are truly unexplainable. It’s at this point where we really see a shift in the characters, most notably Dr. Hynek. I’ve made a point not to read up on his character because I’m interested to see where he goes by the end of the series and what he does with all the intel that he has gathered. The juxtaposition between Dr. Hynek and Captain Michael Quinn is one that works well, especially the further down the rabbit hole they go. Quinn is quick to dismiss most things as anything but UFO’s while Hynek takes a more scientific approach. The other character that I’m intrigued by is that of Susie MIller (Ksenia Solo), and though I don’t want to give anything away pertaining to her background, I’m definitely interested to see where her story arc goes.
I think the main issue with PROJECT BLUE BOOK is the pacing and the slow climb of each reveal. There’s a lot of information packed within each episode and it can be a tad bit daunting to understand if you aren’t familiar with the time period or jargon. I think ultimately this could be detrimental to the show as viewers may find themselves bored. By episode 5, the action is ramped up a bit with episode 6 revealing certain plot points that have been intertwined through all the previous episodes. If you are willing to persevere through some of the more heavy-handed government moments, I think you’ll end up finding a lot to enjoy with the show. If anything, it’ll make you question the existence of extraterrestrial life outside of Earth, and ultimately, isn’t that what we are all curious about?
PROJECT BLUE BOOK airs each Tuesday at 10PM ET/PT on the HISTORY Channel