Not since (what was then) SciFi Channel televised the Battlestar Galactica miniseries in 2003 has science fiction storytelling been so good as Ascension, which aired last week. BSG changed the tone and tenure of speculative drama, that felt altogether more real in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Later watchers won’t feel the same about the miniseries or full seasons that followed. They’re beret of the shared context that amplified the emotional content.
Ascension’s showrunners smartly seek something similar, but playing reminiscent emotions rather than anger or fear. For aging Baby Boomers, and even their descendants, Ascension is a time tunnel to the early 1960s, perfectly preserved 51 years later. Pop! Let’s look inside the time capsule! i09 calls Ascension “Mad Men in Space”, and there’s something to that allusion. But unlike later Mad Men seasons, which carried the characters forward into the decade’s crises and conflicts, Ascension harkens a golden era of innocence before Civil Rights, Vietnam, war protests, hippies, political assassinations, or even the Beatles.