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Top Secret UFO Projects: Declassified Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
Stars: Stephen Bassett, Merrill Cook, Caroline Cory
Netflix’s new six-episode Top Secret UFO Projects: Declassified has landed in the wake of recent revelations regarding the U.S. military conducting active and ongoing investigations of unexplained aerial phenomena. For the completely uninitiated, this quick run of crashed spacecrafts, close encounters, and government coverups might make for a tasty meal, but for those who’ve been sitting with UFO lore for decades — or even if you just watched something like The X-Files in the ’90s — it’s an unformed mess that doesn’t present all that well.
The individual episodes cover separate topics, but that format is often ditched and the chapters wind up recycling too much information from previous episodes. Plus, it’s not until the fifth episode, “Hacked and Leaked,” that it even starts to get into the specific reasons for this series existing right now, which are the findings over the past few years and the controlled release of information relating to mysterious flying objects and possible extra-terrestrial happenings here on Earth. It starts with all the big early U.S. events (Roswell, etc.) and Project Blue Book (which itself was turned into a fun, short-lived History series starring Game of Thrones’ Aidan Gillen) but then it shirks chronology and hops around in a fairly scattershot way, bouncing from whim to whim, riding a wave of theories asserted as facts.
That’s not to say there isn’t overwhelming evidence of E.T.s out there, from all over the world, dating back hundreds of years even. It’s even stated on the show that, in our oddly shaped reality, the world just continues to spin as if none of this insurmountable evidence exists. But the show itself is poorly sourced and often relies on talking heads — who have titles ranging from “UFO Researcher” to “UFO Field Investigator” to “Alien Hunter” — just saying things they believe are real in a way that shapes it as an absolute truth.
Then, in an even stranger piece of packaging, the narrator gets in on this too. Instead of staying objective, the way a looming documentary voiceover is usually employed, you’ll hear things like “the question is no longer is there intelligent life in the universe, but how many forms can it take?” and “the being was questioned thoroughly by military intelligence. So how did they communicate? Telepathically.” It’s very jarring to hear those types of sentences mixed in with other parts where words like “alleged,” “claimed,” and other verbal safety nets are rightfully used.
Yes, the episodes have nominal topics, but mostly there’s a sameness to them that makes the messaging here feel confused and directionless. The lack of linear information, or drive toward a climax/culmination of effort, ultimately just might leave one’s head spinning. Are the aliens here to stop us from ruining Earth? Yes. Wait, are they here to help us learn new technologies? Sure. Are the crafts we’ve been seeing for the past 70 years here to study us? Probably? Do they mean us harm? Who’s to say? Are we currently building things based on their science? All things are possible. Regardless, in the end, we’re still at the mercy of our own government and how those in charge of these projects choose to dispense the information. If they want us to be fearful, we will be. So the end result here is… we’ll either all find out or we won’t.
That’s not to say that, within this jumble, there isn’t some fascinating stuff. From the alien holdings and tech being turned over to the private sector as part of the massive Military Industrial Complex to international UFO events ranging from Australia to Zimbabwe to Papua New Guinea, the series isn’t without its rewarding ruminations and musings. It’s at its most illuminating when breaking away from the U.S.’s greatest hits and giving us a global perspective, or even when touching on Blink-182’s Tom Delonge’s To The Stars Academy (which, honestly, may have made for a better centerpiece for the series overall).
Top Secret UFO Projects: Declassified wasn’t made without effort, but it still comes across as rushed. In an attempt to get out all the information, it sacrifices focus, awareness, and an underlying confidence of message. The mosaic you’re left with is one more of panic than wonder, as we now pile all of this E.T. stuff onto the pandemic and climate change and other enormously consuming and/or anxious thoughts. A meager effort is made, by a few of the speakers, to explain that these visitors are here to save us from ourselves, but looking out the window on any given day tells us otherwise.