As a television sub-genre, comedic science and science-fiction series aren’t exactly prominent, and are mostly limited to cable and new programming via online streaming sites. We’re all still holding hands and hoping really hard for Robin Williams to develop an updated version of Mork & Mindy, but until then, we’re happy to get anything we can. With the Space Race officially back back in action, and with greater destinations than ever before, NBC is jumping onto the astro-bandwagon by ordering a pilot based on a pitch from the Anchorman duo of Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay. Of course, it’ll be a period piece that takes place in the 1960s, but relevance is objective.
Titled Mission Control, the series would be a workplace comedy set in 1962, and would follow a testosterone-laden astronaut who has to accept the fact that a strong woman has entered the race to the moon. It’s pretty close to the plotline of the first Anchorman film, which also saw aloof men reacting wildly to a feminine uprising. One might speculate about the implications of this repetition, but we’re too busy wondering if their unique brand of over-the-top comedy will work on small-screen network TV. I mean, Brick Tamland held down The Office for quite a few years, but this will undoubtedly be less grounded in reality.
Ferrell and McKay will be executive producing, and they’ve brought in David Hornsby as a showrunner. A great actor in his own right, Hornsby is probably best known to comedy fans as Rickety Cricket, the homeless occasional priest on FXX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which he also produces and co-writes. While Ferrell projects are always hit or miss to me, It’s Always Sunny is one of my favorite series of all time, so my faith is strong with this one.
It’s a project that has apparently been in the cards for a while, as it was originally conceived as part of Ferrell and McKay’s Mediocre Man Trilogy, for which Talladega Nights was also an entry. It might work better as a film, unless there are more plot threads that aren’t being shared here, but the time period will be ripe for humor. I wonder if NASA will be involved, or if it will butt heads with that other space race series being developed. The more space on TV, the better.
Ferrell recently worked with Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont in spoofing epic miniseries of the 1970s and 1980s with IFC’s The Spoils of Babylon, which is about as ridiculously on point as any spoof I’ve ever seen. If they could transfer that aesthetic, with the same lofty sense of humor, Mission Control could be a shoe-in for getting an actual series order. As far as how it would fare in the ratings, that’s a different story.
Below you can catch a peek at The Spoils of Babylon through its amazing opening title sequence and theme song.