Roush Review: ‘Project Blue Book’ Offers Little Surprise or Suspense

Project Blue Book
History Channel

“X” marks the cliché in a throwback to a time before the UFO was part of the conspiracy theorist’s vernacular. “Hasn’t caught on yet,” cocky Air Force Capt. Michael Quinn (a robotic Michael Malarkey) says of that soon-to-be-iconic acronym while grilling a witness.

Can Project Blue Book catch on? This attempt to depict a real-life X-Files operation, dramatizing actual cases investigated by the military, feels more like Close Encounters of the Familiar Kind. There’s little surprise or suspense in these by-the-book anecdotes of weird phenomena in the skies and sinister cover-ups on the ground.

Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) is the series’ greatest asset, prickly and dogged as open-minded astrophysicist and professor J. Allen Hynek. He’s recruited to work with professional skeptic Quinn to “control the narrative” by debunking the mass hysteria of flying saucer sightings in the Cold War 1950s.

If Hynek can’t always believe his eyes, he’s just as skeptical of the top brass explaining the inexplicable with talk of experimental aircraft and Soviet surveillance devices. We know better, mainly because we’ve seen it all before.

Project Blue Book, Series Premiere, Tuesday, January 8, 10/9c, History