HBO to create six-part “scripted” series on Musk and SpaceX

Where NOT to get your facts about SpaceX’s history: HBO today announced that it is going to create a six-part “scripted” drama series describing the history of Elon Musk and SpaceX.

In terms of story, the small-screen narrative will follow Musk as he develops the first SpaceX rocket and launches it into orbit with a handpicked team of engineers on a remote island in the Pacific. His dream of humanity colonizing the universe takes one step closer to reality with the first (and successful) manned Falcon 9/Crew Dragon mission on May 30, 2020. The participating NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, have since returned to Earth from the International Space Station.

From my experience writing non-fiction screenplays for cable television when I was still in the movie business, I can guarantee that this drama will have very little connection to reality, and is more likely to get numerous basic facts wrong. It will thus accomplish nothing but to misinform anyone who watches it.

Canvas – The Simpsons theme song

An evening pause: About two years ago I said to Diane that I’d never seen any of The Simpsons animated TV show. Neither had she. Since then we have watched all the available episodes on DVD, covering most of the first twenty seasons.

What first impressed us about the show was how actually normal and family-oriented it was, in the beginning. It was not the “edgy” ugly portrayal of America its reputation had implied.

Over time that theme was more and more lost, though whenever the writers went back to those roots the show shined. Even so, what was most impressive was how the show managed somehow to remain fresh, for most of that time period. Except for a period around season nine, the satire and jokes remained solid for almost all of the first twenty years.

Since the last ten years have not been put on DVD, we won’t likely see them. No matter. Twenty years of The Simpsons was great, but it was more than enough.

Hat tip Diane Zimmerman, who used numerous musical quotes from the series to find many great evening pauses.

Reality show to fly contestant to ISS

Capitalism in space: A new reality show, dubbed Space Hero, will have audiences watch contestants compete to be a passenger on a private capsule, likely SpaceX’s Dragon, and fly to ISS for ten days.

The selected group of contestants will undergo extensive training and face challenges testing their physical, mental and emotional strength, qualities that are essential for an astronaut in space. I hear the idea is for the culmination of the competition to be in a an episode broadcast live around the world where viewers from different countries can vote for the contestant they want to see going to space. The show will then chronicle the winner’s takeoff; their stay at the ISS for 10 days alongside professional astronauts traveling at 17,000 mph, orbiting the Earth 16 times a day; and end with their return to Earth. The Space Hero company is currently in discussions with NASA for a potential partnership on STEM initiatives onboard the ISS.

The trip of the Space Hero winner is expected be on a SpaceX Dragon rocket though a launch provider is yet to be officially selected. Space Hero, billed as the first space media company, is working with Axiom Space, manufacturer of the world’s first privately funded commercial space station — a module for the ISS where the private astronauts can stay — and full-service human spaceflight mission provider.

The project seems more viable and realistic than previous such attempts, aided by the fact that tickets can now be purchased on a private and operational manned capsule.

Liberace – Malaguena

An evening pause: Stay with it, because after the music Liberace and Sammy Davis do some comedy and a dance number that is pure light-hearted entertainment, the kind of thing that was normal on television in the 1960s, and now seems so difficult for modern performers to achieve.

Hat tip Tom Biggar.

Walt Disney’s MultiPlane Camera

An evening pause: This was filmed in 1957, and was almost certainly made to be shown as part of Disney’s weekly television show series for kids that began in 1954 and was one of television’s most popular shows in the 1960s. It describes one of the most important technical developments in animation, developed by Disney, until the arrival of computers.

To repeat: This was made for kids, yet it is thoughtful, entertaining, educational, and quite detailed in the information being conveyed. It treats its young audience with great respect and dignity.

I generally do not watch children’s shows today, but the few that I have seen have generally been quite shallow, overwrought, and would have insulted me, when I was a child. I don’t know if today’s kids would react the same today, because when I was a child Disney’s show was somewhat typical. I expected to be treated with respect. Today’s kids might not have that expectation.

Hat tip Wayne DeVette.

Kukla, Fran and Ollie – Here We Are Again

A evening pause: Hat tip Jim Mallamace, who writes, “Before there was Shari Lewis; before there were the Muppets, there was Kukla, Fran, and Ollie. An American television staple from 1947 – 1957, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie demonstrated there would be as large an adult audience for puppetry as there was a child audience. Burr Tillstrom voiced all the puppets. Fran Allison was the host. In this video, they sing their theme song ‘Here We Are Again.'”

Do a quick search on youtube and you can find clips of them singing songs from things like The Mikado and doing satire on television advertising. As primitive as it might seem when compared to modern television, this was a children’s show with a whiff of sophistication.

The Amazing Paul Frees

An evening pause: You have heard his voice, many times. This highlight reel, suggested by Jim Mallamace, includes just a few, all amazingly different:

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion
Boris Badenov
Pillsbury Doughboy
Lion and Mouse
Voyages Through Inner Space
Burgermeister Meisterburger
The Beatles Cartoon
Morocco Mole
Ludwig von Drake

He was a contemporary of Mel Blanc (most famous for providing the voices for Warner Brothers’ cartoons), was as good, but is far less well known.

R.I.P. Rose Marie

Rose Marie, best known for her role on the Dick Van Dyke show in the 1960s, has passed away at 94.

Diane and I recently rewatched the entire Dick Van Dyke show, and they come off as fresh and as funny as when they were made more than a half century ago. If you want to see adult comedy at its best, not the modern obscene and shallow adolescent humor that dominates today’s culture, you must see this show.

The Danish National Symphony Orchestra – Star Trek Medley

An evening pause: It is never a bad thing to listen to the music from Star Trek (though I would have preferred a larger percentage of this piece devoted to Alexander Courage’s original score).

Hat tip Willi Kusche.

Readers: If you want to contribute to Behind the Black, you can! I am in need of Evening Pause suggestions. If you haven’t suggested any before and want to now, comment here (without posting the link to your suggestion) and I will contact you!

Lesley Gore – California Nights

An evening pause: From a very amusing 1967 Batman television episode, with the evil arch villain Catwoman, played by Julie Newmar. Lesley Gore’s lip-syncing isn’t the best, but the overall silliness of the scene, as well and the entire show, makes it is worth watching. The song is nice too. Unfortunately, I can’t find the whole episode, but this search on youtube finds a host of scenes from that classic of campy 1960s television.

Hat tip Diane Zimmerman.

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