"For All Mankind"

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"For All Mankind"

Post by Benji »

"For All Mankind" is a dramatic historical fiction series on Apple TV that imagines a world in which the USSR lands on the moon before the USA. It's currently free to watch.

I just finished the second episode and my reaction is a solid "meh". I was excited by the totally unique concept. The show begins in June 1969 with the world's reaction to the Soviet landing on the moon (they attempt to misdirect the viewer in the first couple of minutes, which fails because the preview image on the Apple TV interface is the Soviet flag on the moon). The show's timeline has departed from the real world before that, though. Of note, Wernher von Braun is the director of the Manned Spaceflight Center in Houston. Most of the Apollo astronauts are different, though the household names (Slayton, Armstrong, Aldrin, etc.) are retained. The timeline of missions up to that point (Apollo 1 fire, Apollo 10 dress rehearsal) seems to be the same. Beyond that, any technical inaccuracies could easily be brushed away by pointing to the different timeline.

What rubs me the wrong way are significant personality differences in the characters and the program. Wives are used as a backchannel for Deke to make suggestions to the astronauts and von Braun seems to have... given up? The character supposedly has the strong public support, ambition, and path to success of the real von Braun, yet his political and public relations savvy are nowhere to be seen. In the second episode, he is ousted for failing to support a moonbase concept because he is against the militarization of space. Instead of supporting the mission for the sake of technology or campaigning for his vision of peaceful exploration, he founders helplessly as Congress reveals his secret (in this timeline) past as an officer in the Nazi SS in order to discredit him in the eyes of the public. He had plenty of warning of the political forces at play, so I find it hard to believe that he would be blindsided in this manner.

Maybe it's due to the casting, which leaves a lot to be desired. In particular, I don't buy Colm Feore as Wernher von Braun, though many of the other characters are similarly hard to believe. Worse, though, is the writing. Episode 1 was overwrought drek; episode 2 was marginally better. I will keep watching and hopefully it will continue to improve, because I am excited by all of the directions this series could go.
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Re: "For All Mankind"

Post by p51 »

It isn't free, you actually have to sign in with your credit card number under some sort of promotional deal to get into that service. I refuse to be involved in something like that.
That said, of course I was curious about the series, and I do find your insights very interesting.
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