Not much has changed since the close of Project Blue Book. Find out more on Showmax
Not much has changed since the close of Project Blue Book. Find out more on Showmax

The Project Blue Book series is a bit like “X-Files meets The Americans”, according to The Los Angeles Times. It was the most-watched new cable series of the year so far on its launch in the US.

Top-secret programme

Between 1952 and 1969 the US Air Force investigated over 12 000 reported sightings of UFOs – more than 700 of which remain unsolved to this day.

This top-secret programme was code-named Project Blue Book, which is now the title of a 10-part historical fiction series based on the declassified government files of these investigations and set against the backdrop of the Cold War and rising Atomic Era.

Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger in Game of Thrones and Mayor Tommy Carcetti in The Wire) stars in Project Blue Book as Dr J. Allen Hynek, a brilliant astrophysicist who is recruited to the top-secret programme alongside World War II hero Captain Michael Quinn, played by Michael Malarkey (Enzo in The Vampire Diaries) as the “grounded Scully” to Hynek’s “obsessive Mulder”, to quote Time and another X-Files comparison.

As Variety put it: “The most surprising thing about Project Blue Book is that it took so long to become a TV show in the first place.”

While Quinn is fictional, Hynek is straight out of the history books – in real life, he went on to develop the Close Encounter scale of cataloguing UFO reports, which was popularised in Steven Spielberg’s alien movie Close Encounters of The Third Kind, which he was a consultant on and had a cameo in.

Other cast members include Screen Actors Guild nominees Neal McDonough (Justified, Desperate Housewives) and Michael Harney (Orange Is The New Black).

Project Blue Book is executive produced by Robert Zemeckis, the Oscar-winning director of Forrest Gump, who also directed the Oscar-nominated science fiction classics Back To The Future and Contact.

Zemeckis put together an impressive director line-up for Project Blue Book that includes Robert Stromberg, (Avatar, Alice In Wonderland; Emmy winning directors Thomas Carter (Coach Carter) and Alex Graves (Game of Thrones, The West Wing); and BAFTA winner Pete Travis (Dredd).

HISTORY has already renewed Project Blue Book for a second season, as they search for a new flagship series to replace Vikings, which will end with its sixth season in 2020. “We are believers in Project Blue Book and so is our audience, who has sparked a conversation about the hundreds of unsolved cases and our nation’s military response to UFOs that have remained relatively secret until now,” says Eli Lehrer, HISTORY’s executive vice president and head of programming. “Zemeckis, A+E Studios and our extraordinary creative team have shaped a compelling narrative that is the perfect blend of historical authenticity and entertainment that inspires curiosity in our viewers to learn more. We’ve touched on a very relevant topic and look forward to a second season.”

In case you’re wondering what the aliens have been doing during the last 50 years since Project Blue Book, while we’re gratefully agnostic on the topic, it’s worth noting that in 2017 The New York Times published a piece on The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, revealing “a secret Pentagon programme to investigate UFOs” that they claimed began in 2007.

As they later wrote in their review of Project Blue Book: “Not much has changed since the close of Project Blue Book… The government still makes every attempt to keep investigations and conclusions secret, while denying any involvement to American citizens.”

We’re just humble fans of the golden age of series, so we’re not qualified to comment on US government policies or the existence of alien life forms. All we know for sure is that Project Blue Book is a fascinating history lesson that doubles as “a stylish, pulpy delight,” The Independent.

Project Blue Book is streaming first on Showmax

Project Blue Book is now streaming first on Showmax in South Africa. Each episode draws from an actual Project Blue Book case file, like the military pilot who claimed he’d survived a dogfight with an alien craft; a mass sighting of a mysterious V-shaped craft in Lubbock, Texas; a scout troop who claimed they saw a strange craft hovering in the woods; green fireball incidents over several military bases; and a film documenting an army platoon under UFO attack during the Korean War.

What: Project Blue Book series
Where: Streaming on Showmax
Showmax:  For a free, no-risk trial, visit www.showmax.com
WS