Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Mad Men" in a can, Part III: "Ascension" miniseries finale




Good writing: exciting with many twists. I didn't see any of this coming. Spoilers/bottom line: it's a not uncritical look at ... yikes, eugenics (the ultimate computer dating: Happy Ostara), namely, taking 1963's best and brightest to... breed people with psychic powers (the rather heavily symbolically named Christa, the clairvoyant child)... who can move the colonists to their new planet with their mental power. (Gault's stranded for now.) So the USS Ascension is Capricorn One fake but the space mission's real! Lots of ingredients (TV and movie tropes) in this stew, from "Mad Men" to The Truman Show to "The X-Files" (anti-government suspicion that never seems to turn into political reality: "Ooh, scary," say the geeks, who then vote for men like Obama) to "The Sims" to some of Planet of the Apes ("it was Earth all along"). Of course I'm glad what I expected to happen didn't: the '63ish fantasy world wasn't destroyed or didn't destroy itself; their ingenuity saved themselves (neat chemistry lesson at the end) and the door's obviously open to a series. Story lines didn't wrap up and we still don't know what the modified American flag means. (Our Milky Way galaxy?) Lots of political and soap-opera intrigue both on and off the "ship."

So it's not a clone of '63 but rather '63, the intelligentsia's utopian ideas from '63, and about 50 years of independent development.

A critic:
Characters wear military uniforms or extremely muted versions of ’50s suits and dresses — they wouldn't look out of place in a 21st-century New York bar or office.
Right, something halfway between '63 and the "Mad Men" effect (with his meticulous re-creation, Matthew Weiner meant to tear down the golden era but he started nostalgia instead: whiskey and cigarette sales have gone up) starting around 2007, which you can explain away as the ship's society slowly changing.

A 2014ism I thought I heard: the main teenage girl (the one in love with the good-looking rebel boy from the wrong side of the tracks ship; hackneyed but classic) or one of her friends says "totally" in a way unknown before Valley Girl talk became a fad in the early '80s (actually Moon Unit Zappa making fun of SoCal girls she didn't like). At least she didn't say "awesome."

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