The History Channel launches a new scripted series. But don’t call it history. Drenched in science-fiction lore and featuring late 1940s period settings and costumes, it’s a little like “The X-Files” meets “L.A. Confidential,” except those were intelligent and this is not.
“Project Blue Book” (9 p.m., TV-14) follows investigations into UFOs conducted by the Air Force between 1952 to 1969. Aidan Gillen stars as professor Dr. J. Allen Hynek, recruited by brash pilot Capt. Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey) to apply evidence-based studies to disprove the widespread, hysterical reports of flying saucers that proliferated in the years following the so-called Roswell crash of 1947.
But what’s the fun in that?
We soon learn that Hynek is being followed by shadowy figures and that Air Force officers (including Neal McDonough) are hiding Something Big.
“Blue Book” suffers from some obvious foreshadowing and clunky dialogue that often seems wildly out-of-sync with its mid-century setting.
Worse, it follows in a bad tradition of mingling actual history with comic-book nonsense. On the History Channel, no less.
Early on, we hear that President Truman himself is deeply invested in the Air Force’s UFO conspiracy. Having read a book or two, this made me want to vomit.
I was immediately struck by the show’s resemblance to “Taken,” a Steven Spielberg-produced miniseries from 2002, featuring a young Dakota Fanning. In that story, it’s President Eisenhower who is said to be monitoring work integrating alien technology with military hardware.
At the time, I wrote that it was a little disturbing for a director like Spielberg, closely associated with Holocaust remembrance, to take such a cavalier attitude toward the blending of history and fantasy, something practiced by neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and other deplorables.
That was a long time ago. Using real history as a jumping-off point for mere fantasy has serious ramifications. I believe the folks who run the History Channel know that. They just don’t care.
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