Pros: The authors have a deep respect for the history of NASA and the people who worked at the agency in the late 60s and early 70s. last century; attention to detail, historical and technical facts; fantastic assumptions intertwined with real stories of space exploration; good selection of actors; lots of Easter eggs noticeable only to those familiar with the issue and Ronald D. Moore’s previous work; stylistics and attributes of the 60-70s. XX century; soundtrack Cons: The series slowly picks up speed; the emphasis on the daily life and family problems of astronauts will not appeal to everyone. For All Mankind / “For the Sake of All Mankind”
Creator Ronald D. Moore
Cast: Joel Kinnaman (Edward Baldwin), Michael Dorman (Gordo Stevens), Renn Schmidt (Margot Madison), Sarah Jones (Tracey Stevens), Chantel VanSanten (Karen Baldwin), Jodie Balfour (Ellen Waverly), Eric Ladin (Gene Kranz) , Jeff Branson (Neil Armstrong), Chris Bauer (Dick Slayton), Colm Feori (Wernher von Braun), Sonya Walger (Molly Cobb), etc.
Apple TV+ channel
Year of release 2019
For All Mankind is an alternate NASA history in which America lost the space race, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first to set foot on the moon, the Vietnam War ended in 1970, and Ted Kennedy avoided the accident on Chappaquidick Island and became the 38th President of the United States . A story in which the rivalry between two superpowers on the Moon led to further developments in space technology and even some political shifts on Earth.
I don’t know what the viewers and critics who gave For All Mankind low ratings wanted to see in this series, but personally I saw exactly what I expected – the stories of people who connected their lives with NASA; the daily hard work of engineers, mission managers, astronauts and how this work affects their personal lives; political intrigues associated with knocking out budgets when changing administrations; many real stories and legends of the initial stage of space exploration; a lot of real historical figures and aerospace technology of the 60-70s. last century, as well as engineering prototypes that could have become a reality if history had turned out a little differently.
The level of enjoyment you will enjoy while watching For All Mankind depends on how well you know the real story of the moon race and the people who had a hand in this historical event. Not only the names of the Apollo 11 crew members, but also the biographies of the people who designed the rockets, were in the control center, conducted tests, etc. It’s much more interesting to watch if you know who Deke Slayton is and why he, the only one of the Mercury Seven, flew into space only 16 years after the start of the program; if you understand who the prototype of the first female astronaut Molly Cobb was (this is Mercury 13 program participant Jerry Cobb, who was only six months away from the series premiere); if you have heard who Gene Kranz is and are familiar with the complicated history of Wernher von Braun.
For All Mankind appears to have been inspired by the classic film The Right Stuff, about the first seven US astronauts, and the documentary Mercury 13. It’s also easy to see the show’s writers being influenced by the likes of First Man, the TV series Mars, and The Astronaut Wives Club.
Plus, don’t forget what series For All Mankind showrunner Ronald D. Moore has worked on in the past. His credits include Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, the new Battlestar Galactica, the still-on-air Outlander, and an episode of the Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams anthology. That is, Moore knows well how to work with fantastic themes and, first of all, with space science fiction. By the way, an attentive viewer will notice several references to Star Trek in For All Mankind.
One of the features of For All Mankind is weaving existing technologies of the 60s and 70s into an alternative history. XX century and real events that took place at the dawn of space exploration. The same joke about the waste adapter for women is not a joke at all, it was one of the real reasons that delayed the recruitment of a corps of female astronauts. The phrase that astronaut John Glenn says in the series about female astronauts repeats word for word the phrase that Glenn said at the US Congress hearings on the Mercury 13 program. The delay in changing the crew of the lunar base is a reference to more than a year of interruption in flights to the Mir station. Etc. and so on.
The show’s focus on gender equality and sexual minorities, which may offend some traditionalists, is also in keeping with the historical period that saw the passage of some major civil liberties legislation in the United States. And the real impact of Valentina Tereshkova’s flight on the feminist movement of the 60-70s. It’s really hard to overestimate.
Special thanks to the authors for the selection of actors for minor roles, whose performers sometimes outshine the main characters of the series. It is worth noting the excellent work of Eric Ladin as Gene Kranz; Chris Bauer, who plays astronaut office chief Deke Slayton; Colm Fiori, who plays Wernher von Braun; and, of course, Sonya Walger as Molly Cobb.
Perhaps the only complaint that can be made about For All Mankind is that the series really accelerates very slowly and picks up pace only by the fifth episode. Until this moment, some viewers who are not familiar with the history of manned flights and who do not understand why, for example, the successful launch of the Soviet N-1 rocket is a fantastic event in itself, may get bored. In addition, until the fifth episode, there is very little space in the series about space itself. But, again, the way preparation for flights is shown here, in my opinion, is no less important and no less interesting than the flights themselves.
In a word, if you are interested in space, the history of the development of technology and space flights, then with a high degree of probability you will like For All Mankind. If you’re looking for something in the vein of The Expanse or Star Wars, look no further than Disney+’s The Mandalorian.
Like most new Apple TV+ and Disney+ releases, For All Mankind releases one episode per week rather than the entire season at a time. The first season is not finished yet, but Apple has already renewed the series for a second. Judging by the pace that the show’s writers have taken, by the end of the second season, the action of For All Mankind may move to the 80s and 90s. XX century, and events will develop as in the Battlezone series of games, the actions of which, if you remember, also take place on the Moon in an alternative timeline.
A real gift for those who are interested in the history of space exploration and astronautics in general