Imagine this: The CIA is developing a “mind control” program to use against the Communists, and everyone from the chief of police to a group of enterprising schoolchildren who started their own detective agency is affected.
That may sound like a modern-day plot line, but it’s actually one of the main themes in a new BYUtv series set in the 1960s, based on a real U.S. government program called “MKUltra.”
BYUtv’s first original scripted series, “Granite Flats,” seamlessly transports viewers to the “quintessentially American town” of Granite Flats, Colo., in the early 1960s. But while everything may seem perfect from the surface, the intrigue of the Cold War simmers beneath the lives of the town’s residents.
Owned by Brigham Young University, BYUtv will debut the second season of “Granite Flats” on April 6. The show, which drew rave reviews, has attracted a number of award-winning actors and actresses for its second season, including three-time Emmy Award-winning actor Christopher Lloyd, who you are sure to recognize from the “Back to the Future” films; Cary Elwes, who starred as Westley in the cult classic “The Princess Bride;” and David Naughton of “An American Werewolf in London.”
Elwes told TheBlaze at a press event in New York on Thursday that as a fan of history, the show resonated with him “right away.” He said he first learned about MKUltra a decade ago, and has been interested in doing a project about it ever since.
“They started out the program by drugging not just military personnel, but innocent civilians, and then followed them, tracked them, filmed them [to] see the effects of the drugs,” he said. “And without even notifying these poor folks. Some of them committed suicide because they were completely driven crazy by it.”
Derek Marquis, the managing director and CEO of BYU Broadcasting and co-executive producer of “Granite Flats,” said the unique nature of the show has attracted audiences and Hollywood talent alike.
While most “family programming” these days consists of cartoons, “Granite Flats” is a show the whole family can sit down and watch together, offering something for viewers of all ages.
Elwes certainly agrees, telling TheBlaze: “I have a 6-year-old daughter, so I like to try to do enough material that I can be proud to show her when she’s older.”
“I’ve done material that obviously is more adult, like ‘Saw’ and things like that which I probably will never end up showing her,” he added with a laugh. “[But] I want to be able to sit down with her, and watch some of it with her.”
More information on the show below, courtesy of BYUtv:
After an unidentified object (which turns out to be a Soviet spy satellite) falls from the sky in a fiery blaze, Granite Flats is rocked to the core and transformed into a place of secrets and fear. The Chief of Police is working with a Special Agent from the FBI to help ferret out a KGB spy hiding somewhere in their midst. A nurse at the VA Hospital has learned that her boss is running some mysterious tests on soldiers, part of the CIA’s top secret Project MKUltra program to develop mind-control as a weapon against the Soviets. The kid detectives end up in the middle of it all, gaining insight into the complicated political world that becomes the backdrop to their own coming of age experiences.
As the Cold War escalates and the country’s government and citizens confront enormous national and global challenges – including the assassination of President Kennedy – the tale of Granite Flats unfolds through the perspectives of an ensemble of diverse and multi-generational characters.
Watch a trailer for the second season of “Granite Flats” below:
“When we originally started this, we had no idea that old things would be new again, that we’d be having these same conversations again about the Cold War,” Marquis said.
“We have a lot of fun things happening, but I’ll tell you … of everything we’re doing, the most fun that we’re having, and I believe the greatest impact that we’re having on the television landscape, is Granite Flats,” he added.
BYUtv is carried in more than 53 million homes, including on Dish Network, DirecTV and over 800 cable systems.