Film: The Dish
Cast includes: Sam Neil (Jurassic Park), Patrick Warburton (Scream 3), Tom Long (East of Everything), Kevin Harrington (Australian Rules)
Director: Rob Stitch (Thank God You’re Here TV)
Genre: Historic-based drama/humor (2000)
In brief: “NASA spent billions on this project, and in the end it falls to you blokes,” one reporter observed. It’s 1969, and we’re in Parkes, Australia in the middle of a sheep paddock. The blokes he’s referring to are Cliff, Mitch, Glen and Al. Al’s an American, sent by NASA to keep an eye on the blokes. Parkes is the site of the newly built receiving station, affectionately referred to as The Dish. It measures 210 feet in diameter and weighs 1,000 tons. It’s the largest, most powerful receiving station in the world, and it’s so new that even the blokes at Parkes aren’t sure how well it will work… and now they’ve committed to be the primary receiving station for the televised broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Of course, the whole town is abuzz. You might say, “All of Parkes is over the moon!” And on Friday night, there’s going to be a ball in town to welcome the American ambassador. It’s vindication indeed for the mayor of Parkes, who went out on a limb to get The Dish built in Parkes. In the meantime, things are more or less going along as normal out at The Dish. Glenn had to reprogram all the coordinates in the computer because NASA sent the coordinates for the northern hemisphere… failing to notice that Australia is in the southern hemisphere. Al is a bit unnerved by the casual attitude, but what can he say? It was NASA’s fault, after all. On Friday night, during the band’s playing of a very strange version of the American National Anthem, Parkes's power goes out. The whole town goes dark, including The Dish, causing them to lose all their computer data. Rather than telling NASA what happened, they blame it on a relay problem… bullshitting Houston while they scramble to solve it.
If you think things looked quaint in the U.S. in 1969, things in Australia looked more like 1959. This film wonderfully captures an era and a place. The film is gentle and quirky, as were the people in Parkes. As town folks gathered around televisions to watch the moon walk, few had any idea what was happening out at The Dish. Few in the U.S. had any idea where The Dish even was.
3 popped kernels
Popped kernels for a good story with interesting history. It's low key but it's got interesting, endearing characters we come to care about.