Coming on Bluray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and creators Ben Nedivi, Matt Wolpert, Ronald D. Moore is the world of ‘what if’s’ about the history of the space race with FOR ALL MANKIND: Season One.
It is 1969 and, in this universe, Soviet Alexei Leonov has just landed and step foot on the moon ahead of NASA and the United States is stunned. Edward Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman), an Apollo 10 astronaut, is furious and is out drinking when he tells a reporter that NASA basically didn’t do enough to win the space race. Baldwin’s wife Karen (Shantel VanSanten) knows this is trouble.
Director Wernher Von Braun (Colm Feore) is not happy with this and send him to, well, Siberia refusing to work with him again. When Apollo 11 does go up, Armstrong (Jeff Branson) and Aldrin (Chris Agos) run into problems. Crossing the border into the United States, Rosales and his daughter Aleida (Coral Pena) start a new life and gets a job working at NASA. Aleida also finds that she has an interest in space.
Nixon wants a moon base and he wants it now even though Director Braun says it is not possible. The president doesn’t like being told no and a campaign against Braun begins and Baldwin finds himself in the middle of the mess. Margo (Wrenn Schmidt) has been loyal to Braun and is shocked to hear what has been happening. Deke Slayton (Chris Bauer) brings Baldwin back into the fold but not before another Soviet moon shock happens.
Slayton is frustrated as Nixon once again makes demands of NASA and this time, he wants female astronauts. Included is Tracey Stevens (Sarah Jones), wife of Gordo Stevens (Michael Dorman) of Apollo 15, Molly Cobb (Sonya Walger), Patty Doyle (Cass Bugge), Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall) and Ellen Waverly (Jodi Balfour). The women are excited and the men are nervous as training begins, and it is all dangerous.
The Soviets are having problems of their own as well but NASA is pushing hard. Slayton has decided to remove Gordo from Apollo 15 and send Cobb instead. The problem is she has a chip on her shoulder the side of the moon. Margo tells her that she needs to rethink her attitude and that Cobb has the potential to blow the mission, the switch is flipped and she is on point.
Once on the moon, Cobb makes a discovery that allows the team to claim success in the mission. Poole is dealing with her husband who has returned from Vietnam with mental issues. That doesn’t stop from NASA’s Moon base names Jamestown. It’s now 1974, Baldwin, Gordo and Poole are living on the base and they are worried about communism. President Ted Kennedy is now running things and Apollo 23 causes a disaster that reworks NASA. Margo revisits Braun and finds a reason to get NASA to put her in charge and the Soviets have their Zvezda base.
Apollo 24 is having its issues delaying its meet up with Jamestown and it is becoming clear that Gorgo needs to go home and how that happens is intense. Ellen and Larry (Nate Corrdry) are dealing with issues that the FBI are bringing to the forefront and there is only one solution. Home lives of other astronauts are becoming serious and Baldwin doesn’t know that his son has been in a serious accident. Baldwin also discovers that the Soviets are truly spying on their base.
Karen is struggling and Apollo 24 continues to have technical failure. So much so that Ellen and Deke are dealing with the fallout. Dennis Tracy and Molly are preparing with Apollo 25 as the Soviets infringe on the U.S. mine but find they need their help from a country they shouldn’t.
Ellen and Deke are dealing with what is happening aboard Apollo 24 and once again there is a need between two countries. Baldwin has a chance to find out firsthand what the Soviets are thinking and what they are doing. That does not stop the expansion of Jamestown, no one or nothing is going to stop it.
Kinnaman as Baldwin is a man determined to get to the moon even if he sometimes steps in a bit of trouble. Trying to balance a home life and a career, he sees the effect it has on his wife but the drive to go to space is powerful. I have always enjoyed Kinnaman’s performances and in this series, he does not disappoint and delivers a strong storyline with tension and emotion. VanSanten as wife Karen goes through a series of every emotion possible when trying to support the choices her husband makes but there comes a time when it is now her choice in what comes next in her life.
Dorman as Gordo has a history of being a ladies’ man and everyone knows it, but after a mission to the moon things begin to change for him. Dorman gives his character such complexities and I never know what he’s going to do next and that’s everything. Jones is wife Tracy who knows her husband has predilections and turns the other way. That is until she is recruited into NASA where the balance of their marriage shifts. Jones portrays Tracy as going through being a housewife to a career that no one saw coming.
Balfour as Ellen is working hard to get up the ladder at NASA and is making choices about her life because of the stigma push of society. Balfour is quietly powerful and it will all come to radical decisions for their time. Schmidt as Madison leans heavily on her friendship with Von Braun but will find her own footing. Schmidt carves a path for her character and its again subtlety strong. Walger as Cobb jumps into training but it doesn’t mean she isn’t clear about who wants to be in power and who is in charge of the fake socials. Marshall as Poole is a woman of color who knows what she needs to do to get to the moon. When it comes down to it, Marshall is put in the position that conflicts with NASA and home.
Pena as Aleida has a match problem but once her father introduces her to the possibilities at NASA, she is taken under Margo’s wing to find where she wants to be. Her father has a melt down when she makes it clear than rather going to college to become an engineer, she wants to stay in school with her friends and the boy in her life.
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The Bluray includes the 10 Episodes: Red Moon, He Built the Saturn V, Nixon’s Women, Prime Crew, Into the Abyss, Home Again, Hi Bob, Rupture, Bent Bird, and A City Upon a Hill.
FOR ALL MANKIND: Season One introduces the viewer to a world that would not be expecting. It is not upside down or twisted but a linear view, side by side, with the basic history of space. There are issues and incidents that keep us on the ground and then on the other line is unexpected and fantastic storylines that compel continual viewing.
The cinematography of space is pure joy if even if you might not be a total space fan. It shows exactly what we would expect of the cosmos and of life on the moon. The intensity of the missions is filmed beautifully and keeps the suspense exactly where it should be, thumping in the middle of our chests. The political issues are interesting because it tackles the story of ‘what if this didn’t happen’ scenarios and everything is challenging.
Let’s not forget the drama and intrigue of the cast of characters either. It is vast and for both men and women, families and friends, life decisions and issues that although playing in the linear universe to our own, are totally relatable and equally frustrating. The first few episodes are a mixture and take a moment to place but once it happens, everything else expands like the universe.
Strap down because this rocket doesn’t slow down.
In the end – the space race is never going to end!