'Project Blue Book' Season 1 ratings: A contemporary outlook, unconventional women, and a conspiracy ropes in 3.1 million viewers

To its biggest advantage, 'Project Blue Book' has taken the brave step of treading upon a controversy that has been haunting the US for generations


                            'Project Blue Book' Season 1 ratings: A contemporary outlook, unconventional women, and a conspiracy ropes in 3.1 million viewers

History Channel’s new drama series 'Project Blue Book' grossed 3.1 million total viewers over two telecasts of the premiere episode. With 2.1 million total viewers, the premiere telecast alone became the network’s most-watched scripted series premiere since the March 2013 premiere of the hit series 'Vikings' and was the Number 1 new scripted series on the cable of the 2018/19 TV season across all key demos and total viewers. Additionally, the episode grossed 1 million adults 25-54 and 771K adults 18-49 over the course of the night, according to an official statement from the channel.

Coming from A+E Studios and executive produced by Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Robert Zemeckis ('Forrest Gump', 'Back to the Future', 'Contact'), the 10-episode drama series is based on the true, top-secret investigations into Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and related phenomena conducted by the United States Air Force in the 1950s and 60s.

Starring Aidan Gillen ('Game of Thrones') and Michael Malarkey ('The Vampire Diaries'), 'Project Blue Book' is inspired by the personal experiences of Dr. J. Allen Hynek (played by Gillen), a brilliant college professor recruited by the U.S. Air Force to spearhead the clandestine operation (Project Blue Book) that researched thousands of cases, over 700 of which remain unsolved to this day.



 

So what has made the show such a compelling watch? While some fans claim it is the charm of the most mysterious era in the history of the United States, others are of the opinion that the show's sheer simplicity when it comes to dealing with its story is what has made it a fascinating show. After putting together fans' opinions of the show, here are top three reasons why 'Project Blue Book' turned out to be such a massive hit:

1. The Tale of the Most Mysterious Man in America

Nothing can be more compelling than a true story, and that is the advantage that 'Project Blue Book' has over many other shows. Based on the quest of Dr. J Allen Hynek, the show has managed to spin out a character who is both scripted and unscripted at the same time. Played by Aiden Gillen, who is best known for the portrayal of the sinister Peter Baelish (aka Littlefinger) in HBO's 'Game of Thrones', Hynek's character is not at all one-sided. In fact, in the first episode, we come across a man who is skeptical about the stories that he hears but does not let his skepticism blur his judgment. Gillen puts up the character in his most confused state while keeping his clarity intact.

Gillen's portrayal of Dr. J Allen Hynek is just as authentic as the story of the man on whom the show is based. (A+E Networks)
Gillen's portrayal of Dr. J Allen Hynek is just as authentic as the story of the man on whom the show is based. (A+E Networks)

Not to mention, Hynek is in the center of some of the boiling conspiracies of America, and his attempt to maintain himself as an ordinary man is just as enthralling as his search for the UFOs. A fan on Reddit claimed, " I hope the show keeps true to Hynek's work as being a skeptic at first and eventually becoming a true UFO believer and researcher. Also, his obstacles and hurdles with the government which eventually lead to the project being terminated due to the government not taking any of the UFO reports seriously and looked at it as a joke."

2. The Perfect First Impression

A fan on Reddit has actually claimed that 'Project Blue Book' did everything to prepare itself the way a person would when going for a first date. "Project Blue Book did look good. That's always a point in a first date's favor. Showing up with excellent settings and effects does make a good first impression." Unlike most sci-fi shows that often throw a tinge of grey and black to the muted colors in order to set the mood for some kind of impending doom, 'Project Blue Book' took the back door and made everything appear as bright as possible. Be it the hats, the long coats, the furry sweaters, or the vintage cars, the show has perfectly replicated the '50s as its backdrop.

The show has managed to focus on everything the '50s was famous for making it a perfect trip back in time. (A+E Networks)
The show has managed to focus on everything the '50s was famous for making it a perfect trip back in time. (A+E Networks)

We see the characters appearing in the most age-defining fashion, such as Hynek's wife, Mimi (played by Laura Mennell) sporting a crew-neck cardigan and a petticoat while her new-found friend, Susie Miller (played by Ksenia Solo) flaunts around in a bright red hobble skirt. The men, too, pick up the seriously restricted attire of the age which made them look like anything but relaxed, thus in a way picking up the true essence of the show — a mysterious conundrum.

3. The Millennial's '50s

A viewer on Reddit complained about the contemporary nature of the show, stating, "the military brass used terminology like "setting the narrative". That wasn't a fashionably used term/description in the '50s, you can bet there'll be LGBTQ and Race pandering as the episodes unfold." Truly, we have already seen a strange kind of relationship develop between Susie and Mimi when they meet at the shop. While the setting of the scene is a rather nostalgic one, the characters are definitely far away from their times. None of the two women shy away from casually flirting with each other but at the same time, Mimi manages to pull away from the conversation with a kind of shyness that was probably more relevant in the '50s.

While Mimi begins to subtly question her own sexuality, things are about to take a far different turn for Susie, who happens to give out some major "Russian Intelligence vibe", as a fan has claimed. "She is too gorgeous, too physical (she immediately starts to communicate with Hynek's wife with physical contact). It makes sense because the show tries to play with various hysterias in American society during paranoid 1950s, and there were some spy scandals like the Rosenbergs and Rudolf Abel."

The characters might be straight out of the '50s but it is their contemporary ideals that make them so relatable. (A+E Networks)
The characters might be straight out of the '50s but it is their contemporary ideals that make them so relatable. (A+E Networks)

While each episode of the show will draw from the actual case files blending UFO theories with authentic historical events from one of the most mysterious eras in United States history, it can be said that it is truly the contemporary nature of the show that has pulled in over a million viewers on its premiere.

'Project Blue Book' straddles the world of science and the exploration of the unknown, and in between it leaves with some extremely humane elements such as love, betrayal, and suspicion.



 

Alongside Aiden Gillen as Dr. Hynek, and Michael Malarkey as Captain Michael Quinn, the drama series also stars Neal McDonough ('Arrow', 'Legends of Tomorrow') as General James Harding, a confident and perceptive general responsible for heading the Air Force’s new division — Project Blue Book, Michael Harney ('Orange Is The New Black', 'Soy Nero') as General Hugh Valentine, a sometimes cryptic yet powerful USAF General both overseeing and keeping a close eye on General Harding’s new division.

Laura Mennell ('Watchmen', 'The Man in the High Castle') plays Mimi Hynek, Dr. J. Allen Hynek’s wife and loyal partner in life, and Ksenia Solo ('Black Swan', 'Lost Girl') plays Susie Miller, a stylish, eye-catching woman with a confidence to be envious of and whose stealthy charm goes deeper than what meets the eye.

The show is on its way to portray one of the massive conspiracies of the nation. (A+E Networks)
The show is on its way to portray one of the massive conspiracies of the nation. (A+E Networks)

An A+E Studios production in association with Compari Entertainment, the show is being executive produced by Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke ('Cast Away', 'Flight') and Jackie Levine ('Allied', 'The Walk'). David O’Leary serves as creator, co-executive producer, and writer, with Sean Jablonski serving as showrunner, executive producer and writer. Barry Jossen serves as executive producer. 'Project Blue Book' is set to return with its second episode on January 15 at 10 pm on History Channel.