The Right Stuff on Disney Plus wants to be Mad Men meets First Man

The boys with the appropriate stuff.

Disney Plus

Ah, the ’60s: When males had been males, girls had been simply kind of round someplace, and rockets blasted off for the celebrities. Followers of sharp fits and area journey can get a jolt of area race historical past and midcentury Americana in The Right Stuff, a brand new tv drama streaming on Disney Plus telling the story of America’s first astronauts.

Produced by Nationwide Geographic, the brand new collection relies on the 1979 nonfiction bestseller by Tom Wolfe that laid naked the lives and loves of the Mercury 7, the all-American take a look at pilots who raced the Russians into area. The Proper Stuff launch date is Friday, Oct. 9 on Disney Plus, starting with the primary two episodes and adopted by a brand new installment each week.

The present opens within the early hours of Might 5, 1961. Unable to sleep, two square-jawed flyboys pound the observe within the predawn darkness — till one zooms previous the opposite. That is these guys in a nutshell: It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, they wish to go quicker. Or extra exactly, they wish to be quickest.

Tensions between the 2 are revealed over their steak breakfast, tensions they need to put apart because the historic day dawns: a gleaming white rocket thrusts right into a cloudless Florida sky able to put the primary American into area. However even when the mission is a hit, they’re nonetheless behind the Russians…

These are the stakes established. We then in the reduction of to 1959, after we’re launched to America’s elite navy take a look at pilots, a cocky cadre of flyboys and playboys devoted to “ingesting, flying and screwing.” If there’s one factor they like greater than flying too quick and dishonest on their wives, it is being the most effective of the most effective, so all of them leap on the likelihood to check out for one thing referred to as NASA.

Wolfe’s e-book concerning the Project Mercury astronauts was beforehand filmed as an epic 1983 movie directed by Philip Kaufman, a necessary look ahead to anybody all for extraordinary true tales. However that is not the solely purpose Nat Geo’s new TV model feels acquainted, despite the fact that the credit particularly say it is based mostly on the 1983 film’s screenplay in addition to on the e-book. It feels acquainted as a result of this can be a interval of historical past that is been mined many instances.

You recognize the drill: slim ties, and classic tunes on the jukebox. Quick sleeves and cigarettes in Mission Management. Immaculately coiffured wives opening the door of their suburban houses to flashbulbs popping on their immaculately coiffured lawns. These are scenes you’ve got seen earlier than in motion pictures and TV exhibits from Apollo 13 to First Man to Hidden Figures to The Astronaut Wives Club — it is such well-worn territory we have even progressed into alternate variations of the story in Apple TV Plus present For All Mankind. So the largest query hanging over this new model of The Proper Stuff is whether or not it presents sufficient new stuff.


Arms up should you really feel such as you’ve seen this story earlier than.

Disney Plus

2018’s First Man gave a fresh perspective on the well-known story of the primary moon touchdown by locking us inside Neil Armstrong’s cockpit, giving us a continuously terrifying first-person view of the bone-shaking, nerve-shredding expertise of escaping Earth. The Proper Stuff is much less within the mechanics of area flight (within the first few episodes at the least) and focuses as an alternative on the astronauts themselves. Given the size of a TV present season we spend extra time with the posse of pilots creating into an area age rat pack, their legendary take a look at pilot swagger examined by newfound fame and sudden political strain. It is extra like Mad Males than First Man, as these expert however deeply flawed characters, these outmoded males, are thrust right into a altering age.

As a result of even when it is not new to anybody who is aware of their historical past, The Proper Stuff continues to be an inherently dramatic story. They’re the primary astronauts, for Pete’s sake.

Throughout the group, the primary supply of rigidity comes from the conflict between straitlaced John Glenn and gleeful philanderer Alan Shepard. Glenn is portrayed as upright but ruthlessly bold, unafraid to court docket the limelight and glad to take action as a result of his life and household are so healthful. Shepard, in the meantime, chafes in opposition to fame as a result of his messy private life is the precise reverse. In between is Gordon Cooper, shaken by a colleague’s demise and compelled to maintain the collapse of his marriage a secret from the world. These males type a microcosm of American society, household and masculinity below pressure, with the added stakes that at any time any one in all them might turn into a legend or be blown to smithereens. 

Suits star Patrick J. Adams will get a great deal of display screen time as Glenn, though Jake McDorman — star of the Limitless TV present — steals the present because the salacious Shepard. It is powerful to fee the opposite proto-astronauts largely as a result of all of them look precisely the identical, though Michael Trotter will get a number of mileage out of the close-mouthed Gus Grissom. Within the 1983 movie, these predominant roles had been performed by Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid and Fred Ward — huge footwear to fill.

Among the many seven it’s possible you’ll acknowledge Mad Males star Aaron Staton as Wally Schirra. It is a harmful sport, nonetheless, to attempt to borrow a few of Mad Males’s shine, as a result of just about every other TV present suffers by comparability. The Proper Stuff simply is not as refined or subtle or as scathingly analytical of the period as Mad Males was. And regardless of its title, Mad Males triumphed when when it wasn’t targeted on the lads, as the ladies characters had been each bit as attention-grabbing and flawed as their male counterparts. The Proper Stuff spends little time with the ladies of its story — and whereas the fellows all look the identical, so too do the gals.

Then once more, it’s excellent for anybody who loved the look however thought Mad Males was too gradual. The Proper Stuff shoots for the celebrities with the vehicles, the garments and the music —  all the appropriate ’60s stuff for anybody who loves a contact of area age glamour on their TV.

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Richard Trenholm