Project Blue Book is a show that never quite figured out what it wanted to be. While there is a fan petition going to try and save the series, the official word from the History Channel right now is that it’s been cancelled.
Season two begins with a two-parter on Roswell, arguably the most well-known UFO incident, though how much people actually know about what happened and how much Roswell has just become associated with aliens is something these episodes get to explore. Project Blue Book (as in the US Air Force’s study of UFOs) didn’t exist in 1947, when the Roswell incident took place. These episodes, then, are set six years later in 1953. Professor Hynek (Aidan Gillen) and Captain Quinn (Michael Malarkey) have been sent to look into the case because someone is threatening to release new evidence that would prove it wasn’t a weather balloon that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, but some form of alien space craft.
Season two is both an improvement on season one and more of the same for the series. Quinn continues to push for the truth until it means going against the generals (Neal McDonough and Michael Harney). Hynek’s wife, Mimi (Laura Mennell), gets some better storylines this season, as she becomes more involved in her husband’s work and joins a local UFO group. Susie (Ksenia Solo) has officially decided to make Quinn her next mark, though their love won’t be launching any ships anytime soon.
Hynek and Quinn have always had to put up with the Air Force, but this season the CIA gets involved, as well, creating a rivalry between the two organizations. Not only does this provide more drama, as Project Blue Book’s future comes under fire, but it allows the series to recreate the Robertson Panel, which is when the CIA reviewed Project Blue Book in 1953.
Project Blue Book’s biggest problem, though, continues to be its overreliance on genre trappings that make it difficult to differentiate between what’s real and what’s fiction. There needs to be something that sets this series apart from shows like Supernatural, that aren’t trying to be factual, but while Project Blue Book takes a step in the right direction by cutting down on the men in black hats this season, the CIA’s secret, psychic program pretty much takes their place.
That Project MKUltra really existed isn’t the point. Most TV shows take liberties, but with Project Blue Book knowing what to believe can be tough, especially in light of all the heroics, like Hynek diffusing an atomic bomb in “Broken Arrow.” An episode set in the future on a movie set (Hynek was a consultant on Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind) shouldn’t feel more stabilizing than an official investigation, but Project Blue Book played an important role in calming the American public’s nerves. The show may not be as reassuring (or clear), but it’s not without style.
Project Blue Book: Season 2 is available now on DVD from Lionsgate.
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