The Right Stuff (2020 National Geographic Mini Series.) Quick Review

Over the last few months, Disney + has been stepping it up in terms of pumping out new original content every single week. Well, they’re nowhere near the level of Netflix as of yet (the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped in this regard) but they are certainly getting there. One of the newer offerings is this National Geographic drama remaking the story of the Mercury Seven for streaming TV. This was the group name for the first team of American astronauts to make it into space. Their story was previously the subject of an Oscar-winning 1983 film. How is the remake?
Being 100% transparent the only reason this critic is writing the initial draft is more to record the fact he sat through or eight episodes. This season was one of the most life threateningly dull viewing experiences in recent memory. Tone-wise this season is desperately aiming for “Mad Men in space.” The thing is that for dry dialogue-driven dramas to be in any way compelling the characters need to engage the audience on an emotional level. The characterization and scripting here have all the emotional impact of staring at blank wallpaper. Whilst none of the performances are awful this is more because the season has the feel of a purely functional dramatization of these events. This leads to a very similar aesthetic with the performances from top to bottom. Only the three main astronauts (Patrick J Adams Jake McDorman and Colin O’Donoghue)and this comes across as more to prove the showrunner has seen Apollo 13. There’s a potentially interesting subplot about setting up an equivalent female space programme. However, the female characters and performances spend 80% of their time underutilised. They only have relevance with their male partners it’s no surprise this element is incredibly underdeveloped. The production has the feel of a contemporary remake done purely for the sake of it rather than an opportunity to update an important story for a new generation.
The 2020 TV remake of The Right Stuff is the perfect example of what can be referred to as “the boring kind of bad .”It’s aggressively competent but in no way does this mean it’s emotionally engaging from a viewing perspective. The exact opposite is true. It’s one of the most painfully mediocre viewing experience is possible in 2020. It’s very easy to see why something this bland was sold off to streaming. Space drama obsessives all those desperate for another Mad man clone might get something out of it. That said this season is best avoided.

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