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Tv Review : 'Rockets' Fails To Ignite Interest

July 11, 1986|LEE MARGULIES | Times Staff Writer

The promising premise of "Growing Up With Rockets"--an autobiographical account of what it was like to be a child living in Cocoa Beach, Fla., while the U.S. space program developed next door at Cape Canaveral--fizzles as quickly as one of those early missiles that looked great until it tried to get off the launch pad.

The hourlong documentary, airing at 10 tonight on Channels 28 and 50, isn't personal enough, it turns out. Producer-director Nancy Yasecko seems more interested in chronicling the history of the space program--which has been done before, and better--than in talking about the way she and other Cocoa Beach residents were affected by their proximity to such important events.

Neither she nor the people she interviewed has any insight to offer about their unique experience. Her dispassionate narrative, written with Nan Robinson, is filled with minor anecdotes--she and her mother were once asked for directions to the Cape by Walter Cronkite, for example--and is illustrated by home movies of families watching rocket launches at the beach.

The overriding impression is that Cocoa Beach was like any small company town. Since the space center employed so many of the parents, its activities naturally colored conversation and local affairs, but that didn't stop the kids from doing what kids elsewhere were doing--swimming, going to the beach, listening to rock music.

And, like other company towns, some of the young people followed their parents into the industry--including Yasecko, for a time. But she doesn't provide any explanation of how she came to take a job as an engineering intern on Apollo 17.

That's symptomatic of what's wrong with this film: It was all routine to her, and it still is.

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