Image via NASA / Wikimedia
Let me to pitch a TV show idea to you. It's the 1960s in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Not far away is the Launch Operations Center, the facility we now know as Kennedy Space Center, where the smartest people in the country are sending rockets into space. A group of journalists are hustling to catch a break in covering the Space Race, and the country is on edge as the Cold War appears to be hurdling towards a real war. And everybody is drinking a ton of scotch.
Not bad, right? It's also not mine. At this very moment, the writers behind Mad Men are working on a new concept that would transport us half a century back in the history of NASA. The show focuses on the media covering the ins and outs of early space travel. The show is not a done deal, but it's got people on both sides of the table excited.
The timing of the idea makes great sense. On one hand, America is losing its grasp on that chic early Sixties aesthetic as Mad Men swings into the Seventies. Things probably aren't going so hot at AMC, either, since the show's ratings have been on a downward spiral as of late. So rebooting the slim tie plus pocket square look makes a lot of sense.
On the other hand, to quote NASA's multimedia liaison, "Space is hot right now." Since the closure of the space shuttle program, there's been an uptick in interest in the history of space travel in America. NASA told Wired that the agency helped with over 100 documentary films in 2012, while also welcoming a flood of new fans checking in on the Curiosity rover landing on Mars. Over 3.2 million people watched the landing. Why wouldn't they want to watch more space-related stuff?
We've been through this before. Some space-age shows like "I Dream of Jeannie," which ran from 1965 to 1970, succeeded wildly. Others did not. The whole thing sends me back to the Nineties when Apollo 13-fever swept the nation. You couldn't turn around without seeing NASA's logo slapped on this trinket or that — or a rocket full of pogs.
Those involved in the new Mad-Men-goes-to-Space project are on the edge of their seats. It's a good idea, but TV isn't necessarily the best destination for good ideas. Cocoa Beach is pumped, nevertheless. “Hopefully, it happens,” Cocoa Beach Mayor Dave Netterstrom told the local paper. “It would be super-cool."