Author Topic: The Cape (1996) - Episode 9: Buried in Peace ('Lost Cosmonauts' Episode)  (Read 2002 times)

Offline Graham2001

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I recently found online a copy of the 9th episode of the short lived TV series "The Cape" which tried to turn the Shuttle program into Daytime TV Drama.

Entitled "Buried in Peace", the story drew on the 'Lost Cosmonaut' lore and has a joint American/Russian shuttle mission encountering a derelict Soyuz in orbit complete with two very dead Cosmonauts, which is eventually revealed to be from an attempt to beat Apollo 11 to the Moon in early December 1968 (Interestingly the episode never once mentions Apollo 8 which circled the Moon at the end of December 1968.).

The backstory is compromised by the model Soyuz used in the episode it appears to be model of the later Soyuz T or perhaps the ASTP spacecraft rather than either of the spacecraft the Russians actually intended to use.

I'm trying to find more information on who wrote the script and just what inspired that plotline (I know the Russians came out with a lot of information on their failed Lunar program in 1989/90.) but I've not had much success looking online and there does not appear to be anything about the series on The Space Review.

Can anyone help?

Offline catdlr

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Tony De La Rosa

Offline Graham2001

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Will this help, see the section in Writing Credits:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115126/fullcredits/?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm

Thanks I just had a quick look at it, but it does not give the information I need which is who wrote which episode. As a side note I'm surprised no one has covered this series on The Space Review yet.

Offline Blackstar

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and there does not appear to be anything about the series on The Space Review.

A number of years ago a kind person gave me copies of a number of the episodes (not all of them) in the hopes that I would write about it for TSR. Alas, I never got to it. The show had its positives and I thought it was fairly well done at the time. But I get a little queasy writing about that kind of stuff because it's hard to simply evaluate it in terms of drama as opposed to looking for inaccuracies or saying "They would never do that!"

Offline Lar

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It sounds kind of dreadful, that may explain the lack of historical interest

Do you have any episodes other than the 9th? Do you know when it aired? (or copyright date from the credits?)
« Last Edit: 07/02/2018 09:41 PM by Lar »
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Offline Blackstar

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It sounds kind of dreadful, that may explain the lack of historical interest


It wasn't dreadful. It was actually about as good you could do considering the subject matter and a weekly television show. In order to appeal to a broad audience they had to include certain things, like romantic subplots and some artificial conflict. Part of the premise was that most of the training happened in Florida, and that the veteran astronauts, in addition to flying missions, were training the rookies. So you had lots of scenes of young, hot, athletic astronaut trainees jogging along the beach and playing volleyball. This was syndicated television (kids: look it up!), not HBO or Netflix.

But some of the stories demonstrated a decent understanding of the issues of spaceflight, although sped up for a TV audience. They couldn't show people training for 18 months to fly a mission, because that's boring. Or spending hours in a simulator, because: boring. And they needed to add in drama like if Bill gets in trouble for punching his ex-wife's new boyfriend, does he get kicked off the shuttle mission or can public affairs keep it all hush hush?

One of the very early episodes had the astronauts on a shuttle mission deploy a comsat that didn't fire its engine or something. So on the ground they had to figure out what to do. They were pressed for time and had to improvise, so they did something like plotted out the shuttle bay with tape on a basketball court and figure out where the comsat would go and where the astronauts on the EVA to capture it had to be located. Although that's not how NASA would have actually done it, I remember thinking that the show found a good way of showing NASA improvising and solving a problem in a way that the audience could understand.


Offline GClark

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...who wrote the script...

From tv.com:

Todd Ellis Kessler

Online Archibald

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It was shown on Canal+ at the time. I caught some episodes back then, notably one were a satellite goes nut and fires it kick stage... right into the orbiter payload bay, leading to an Apollo-13-like crisis (with a happy ending).

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115126/episodes?season=1&ref_=tt_eps_sn_1
« Last Edit: 07/03/2018 07:34 AM by Archibald »
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Offline Graham2001

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...who wrote the script...

From tv.com:

Todd Ellis Kessler


Thanks,

Of the episodes I've watched I'd rate "Buried in Peace" as a highpoint, even if I do have problems with their use of an ASTP configured Soyuz for a Moon-bound craft, and the way the backstory mixes together the rumors that Luna 15 was a manned attempt to beat Apollo 11, with the actual plans the Russians had to do a manned flyby in December 1968 to beat Apollo 8.

Online Archibald

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Artistic licence ! As Blackstar said - they condensed the soviet lunar program for the audience. They blended together all the different programs - LOK, LK, Zond, L3, Luna. Explaining how much a waste was the soviet lunar program would have been a little too confusing for the audience.

The Soviets developed 
- Zond, a modified Soyuz for a lunar flyby launched by a Proton
- LOK, another modified Soyuz, unrelated to Zond, for lunar orbit launched by a N-1
- LK lunar lander
- L3M much improved system leading to the DLB lunar base (never build)
- Luna orbiters
- Luna sample return probes.
- Lunokhod (initially for the LK, to ferry a stranded cosmonaut to another LK; then flown as standalone missions !)

Too many programs, confusing names : the audience would be at lost.
« Last Edit: 07/03/2018 09:26 AM by Archibald »
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Offline Blackstar

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Artistic licence ! As Blackstar said - they condensed the soviet lunar program for the audience. They blended together all the different programs - LOK, LK, Zond, L3, Luna. Explaining how much a waste was the soviet lunar program would have been a little too confusing for the audience.


And I think that they should get credit for doing the subject at all. Why mention the Soviet lunar program in a show about shuttle astronauts? Yeah, it would be nice if the implementation was better, but we got half a birthday cake, at least...

I also seem to remember that the episode was respectful of the Russians. Their cosmonaut was stranded in orbit, never made it to the Moon, died short of his goal, and nobody knew his name. In the episode, the NASA astronauts decided to send him to the Moon as a tribute, so he could complete his mission. Now the technical aspects were all baloney, but it was a clever story idea.


Online Archibald

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Quote
In the episode, the NASA astronauts decided to send him to the Moon as a tribute, so he could complete his mission.

Interestingly enough, same thing they did to Tom Lee Jones character at the end of Space cowboys. "Fly me too the Moooon..."

According to the link I posted, there was another episode were the lone Russian cosmonaut aboard Mir had gone crazy. Just like in Armaggedon.

The Cape was in '96, Armaggedon in '98, and Space Cowboys in '99. I wonder if the two movies stole some plot lines from the series...  :(
« Last Edit: 07/03/2018 03:13 PM by Archibald »
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Offline Blackstar

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Quote
In the episode, the NASA astronauts decided to send him to the Moon as a tribute, so he could complete his mission.

Interestingly enough, same thing they did to Tom Lee Jones character at the end of Space cowboys. "Fly me too the Moooon..."

According to the link I posted, there was another episode were the lone Russian cosmonaut aboard Mir had gone crazy. Just like in Armaggedon.

The Cape was in '96, Armaggedon in '98, and Space Cowboys in '99. I wonder if the two movies stole some plot lines from the series...  :(

What I remember from episodes of "The Cape" is that they were very much influenced by mid-1990s space history. In particular, there were new revelations about the Soviet lunar program that were emerging then. "Apollo 13" was 1995, and almost certainly resulted in the show getting a go-ahead. But it was clear to me that whoever was writing those episodes was reading "Quest" magazine and Andy Chaikin's 1995 book "A Man on the Moon" and some of the other contemporary publications. Without rewatching the episodes I can't remember anything, but I do remember watching a few episodes at the time and having a sense of where they were getting their information and ideas from.

Offline Graham2001

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Having started this thread, I thought I'd visit Wikipedia's "Lists of Fictional Astronauts" and see where the idea of the Russians getting to the moon first (and failing to bring the men back.) had cropped up previously.

These are the stories I found on that set of lists (I'll link to the appropriate list beneath each entry.) obviously this probably is not the full set of such tales. The first rather surprisingly appears to slightly predate the appearance of 'Lost Cosmonaut' tales in the media (At least as this material is covered by Wikipedia.)

1958 (November): 'Moon Glow' by G. L. Vandenberg (Published in Amazing Stories.)

First American manned Lunar expedition discovers a hole in the ground surrounded by debris, and one recognizable item, an intact and unopened bottle of Vodka.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_astronauts_(early_period)

1964: 'The Pilgrim Project' by Hank Searls

Astronaut sent to Moon in a modified Mercury capsule in an attempt to beat the Russians to the Moon stumbles across a crashed Soviet lunar lander (A modified Vostock). In the 1968 film version ('Countdown') the American is flying a modified Gemini capsule and the Russians are in a modified three man Voskhod.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_astronauts_(Project_Apollo_era)

The next entries come from the same list as the one above.

1967:  'Moondust, the Smell of Hay, and Dialectical Materialism' by Thomas M. Disch

Russian cosmonaut awaits death on the lunar surface after his spacecraft malfunctions.

1987 'Operation Zondraker Pt 2' by Merle M. Rasmussen

In the scenario outline "Codename: Starfall", published as part of a series of articles on how to add space exploration to the RPG Top Secret, it is discovered that Luna 15 was a manned attempt to beat Apollo 11 to the moon, with the crew dying as the consequence of a crash landing.

The next entry after that is for "Buried in Peace"
« Last Edit: 07/04/2018 01:40 PM by Graham2001 »

Offline Blackstar

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Having started this thread, I thought I'd visit Wikipedia's "Lists of Fictional Astronauts" and see where the idea of the Russians getting to the moon first (and failing to bring the men back.) had cropped up previously.


Similar, although not exactly the same, was the movie "Apollo 18," which had the Soviets landing at a South Pole crater in secret, but not returning:

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1996/1


(Because: aliens!)
« Last Edit: 07/04/2018 02:21 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Rocket Science

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I liked it...
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