By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—It seems TV viewers can’t get enough of space adventures. Perhaps it’s because so many of us have been stuck on the ground for months due to the global health pandemic. We’ve been able to escape for a little while watching exciting cosmic adventures including “Avenue 5,” “Star Trek: Picard,” “For All Mankind,” “The First,” and the latest iteration of “Lost in Space.” We could go on, but you get the idea. Now, Disney+ debuts its new original series “The Right Stuff,” Friday, Oct. 9.
It’s the popular streaming service’s first scripted series from National Geographic. “The Right Stuff” tells the incredible story of America’s first astronauts, the Mercury Seven, during the early days of the U.S. Space Program.
Based on the iconic bestseller by Tom Wolfe, “The Right Stuff” is set during the height of the Cold War in 1959. The Soviet Union dominates the space race, and America fears it is a nation in decline. Newly formed space agency NASA has the monumental task of sending a man into space, and its engineers estimate they need decades to accomplish the feat. They are given two years.
Dubbed Project Mercury, the program recruits and trains just seven astronauts from a handful of the military’s best pilots. Within days of being presented to the world, the Mercury Seven—Major John Glenn, Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard, Captain Gordon Cooper, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton and Scott Carpenter—become instant celebrities, elevated to hero status before they achieved a single heroic act. At a time when many wondered if America’s glory days were behind it, “The Right Stuff” is an aspirational story about how ordinary human beings can achieve the extraordinary. As much about who we are today as it is about historic achievements, the series evokes the wonder of this singular Cold War era and the Space Race, when the free world looked towards a new horizon of hope as we first stepped off the bounds of our only home to venture into the vast unknown.
The series stars Patrick J. Adams (Major John Glenn), Jake McDorman (Lt. Commander Alan Shepard), Colin O’Donoghue (Captain Gordon Cooper), Michael Trotter (Gus Grissom), Aaron Staton (Wally Schirra), Micah Stock (Deke Slayton), James Lafferty (Scott Carpenter), Nora Zehetner (Annie Glenn), Shannon Lucio (Louise Shepard), Eloise Mumford (Trudy Cooper), Eric Ladin (Chris Kraft) and Patrick Fischler (Bob Gilruth). The showrunner and executive producer is Mark Lafferty and Jennifer Davisson also is an executive producer.
Produced for National Geographic by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Bros. Television, “The Right Stuff takes a clear-eyed look at America’s original “reality show,” when ambitious astronauts and their families became instant celebrities in a competition for money, fame and immortality. The first two episodes of the eight-episode series premieres Friday, Oct. 9 on Disney+.