The main novelty of the National Geographic selection in the Disney + catalog, the series Os Eleitos (The Right Stuff, in the original) is finally on display in Brazil four months after its debut in the United States. Based on the eponymous book written by Tom Wolfe (1930-2018), the production tells the story of the Cold War space race (1941-1991), but leaves aside the conflict with the Russians to make room for a classic soap opera.
As it is not the first adaptation of Wolfe’s book, the pressure on creator Mark Lafferty’s shoulders is great. In 1983, filmmaker Philip Kaufmann had directed The Chosen: Where the Future Begins, a feature film nominated for eight Oscars (including best film) and winner of four statuettes.
Even with the story of the book already told in theaters, the main problem with the version of The Elected Disney + is not being able to differentiate itself from other similar productions. Films such as The First Man (2018) and the Apple TV + series For All Mankind, to stay only in recent examples, have already efficiently counted the journey of an astronaut’s rise through the Cold War.
To gain some prominence, the production could innovate in some way – be it in special effects or in the poetic license to create new and interesting subplots. Without this strategy, the two episodes available on the streaming service can even create a favorable atmosphere for those looking for something new on the platform, but only because the Brazilian audience is already used (and likes) a good dramatist.
The Elect tells the story of the Mercury Seven, a group of American astronauts who spearheaded the project for the first manned voyage into space. In 1959, the United States was in full swing in the dispute against the Soviet Union for control of world war power and, of course, the space race.
Responsible for choosing the project’s crew, a still-new Nasa begins the selective through the list of her best test pilots available in the Armed Forces. The reason? They are professionals used to the danger of death.
Among the selected names, the series soon highlights the seven who will compose the Mercury group: Alan Shepard (Jake McDorman), John Glenn (Patrick J. Adams), Gordo Cooper (Colin O’Donoghue), Scott Carpenter (James Lafferty) , Deke Slayton (Micah Stock), Gus Grissom (Michael Trotter) and Wally Schirra (Aaron Staton).
With a large group, the narrative pays attention to the two main candidates for the post of first man to go into space: Shepard and Glenn. Because it is a soap opera, the two characters could not be more antagonistic. While the first is a womanizer and cynic, the second is a dedicated and work-focused family man.
Despite the opposing personalities, the duo shares the talent in flying fighter planes and the notoriety of their names among their peers. On a smaller scale, Gordo Cooper and his family conflict also stand out, showing the precariousness of the selective “social” that permeated the USA between the 1950s and 1960s.
Without focusing on space travel and pirouettes in space, Os Electos concentrates its narrative on what the role of an astronaut played decades ago. Once ordinary citizens, the seven become celebrities overnight, with herds of reporters at their doorstep, magazine covers and their own press officers.
In the middle of the history of the Seven, an impressive amount of details about the space program policy, the construction of the media around silly polemics and the technical difficulties that afflict the Mercury Project are intertwined – without forgetting that it is a plot of the years 1950.
With vast options for those who like Marvel movies and series or Disney classics, Mickey’s streaming service opens up a new possibility for anyone looking for something different within the platform.
The third episode of The Elected will be available on Disney + this Friday (19). The first season has eight chapters. Check out the trailer below: