Ground Control to Major Tom, or: Why the Hell is this Taking So Long?

This past Sunday millions (maybe less and understandably so, I’m just ballparking it) tuned in to see Felix Baumgartner jump from space.  Well, not technically space, but from a balloon hoisted capsule that was about 25 miles shy of space (it was still in the stratosphere).  So sure, it wasn’t a space jump per se, but Felix did break a few records (altitude for a manned balloon flight,parachute jump from the highest altitude, and greatest free fall velocity).  Oh, and also the sound barrier.  Imagine the popping he must of felt in his ears.  And while that’s cool and all, it was a realllllllly long broadcast, the majority of which was watching a guy float up in a balloon.  And while that may have excited Jules Verne, it doesn’t make for three hours of good television.  I did, however, appreciate the bones bare presentation, if only because the event was sponsored by Red Bull and I was fully prepared for a whored out performance, complete with Red Bulls for everyone in ground control.  But again, three hours of back and forth shots between a rising capsule, an over the shoulder shot inside the capsule and video of ground control can get a little dull, especially when we’re all just waiting for that one moment when the guy will jump.  It’s like watching Titanic as a kid; I knew what was coming, and that whole friggin butt-numbing movie was just a build up to the last few minutes.

A boring lead up is one thing, and I don’t mind it if the payoff is worth it, but in the case of Felix Baumgartner’s space jump, it really wasn’t.  Not to me at least.  Sure the exterior shots of the capsule and the earth beneath were nice, but the jump?  Eh, not so much.  For such an epic (and I use that word sparingly) jump, I would have liked to have seen some shots of what Felix was seeing.  Surely they could have fitted that suit with a camera or two?  Anything more than a little dot tumbling around would have sufficed, as funny as it was (and life threatening).  So what I ended up with was three hours of nothing with a few minutes of free fall.  Was it worth the watch?  Sure, but only because The Walking Dead didn’t start until nine.

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