What if Hitler had won World War II? What if the Salem witches had joined the army? Can you imagine that the United States would have supported the Nazi side? What led Sharon Tate to survive the attack on her home? Turning history upside down is a subgenre each in vogue in fiction. But alternative history is a double-edged sword (remember the good-natured and ideologically questionable Hollywood). After launching such striking concepts, the complicated thing comes when trying to overcome the barrier of being an appetizing synopsis of filmaffinity, becoming an enduring series. The Serie For all mankind part of another uchrony: What would have happened if the Soviet Union (USSR) had been the first to step on the Moon? The argument did not go for much, certainly. But what stands out in this series from Apple is not the great idea of alternative history, but its subsequent staging and development. The imagination and curiosity of a good space trip.
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It all starts with a man, an astronaut, watching TV in a bar. The planet is experiencing a historic moment. A person will set foot on the Moon for the first time. We do not hear, however, that of “a small step for man …”. The first to land on the satellite says something very different: “I am taking this step through my country, my people and the way of life of Marxism-Leninism.” Much less glamorous, yes.
The event soon encounters unpredictable consequences. In real life, after this well-known planetary event, America got bored with the Moon. In fiction, by failing to overcome the USSR even once, the space race lives on. And also the cold war. NASA has yet to become first at something, and the moon landing will not be the last step of an era, but the first. Thus unleashes a drama straddling the politics of corridors and science fiction with a lot of humanism and that curiosity of the explorer that no one had captured better on television than the legendary From the Earth to the moon, which curiously was one of the first HBO productions. In the center, the imperfection of the astronaut described by Tom Wolfe in What You Need: Chosen for Glory.
First came the good guy, and then the ideal screenwriter. Because Ronald D. Moore is one of the key names to understand American audiovisual science fiction of the last 30 years. The writer has gained more popularity lately for adapting Outlander, but his soul will always be linked to turning the universes of Star Trek and of course, Battlestar Galactica. Moore succeeded in space opera to be taken seriously on television, to compete head-to-head with any other posh genre.
His latest odyssey also has drops of space opera, although the base is different. The historical turn makes it more political and down to earth. There are moments on the Moon, but what is underlined is the humanity of the title. In reality all of Moore’s work is deeply humanistic, even fleeing from Manichaeism. Even when in the nineties that pitted him against the heads of the chains already trekkies. Thanks to that, For all mankind is curiously much more faithful to the passages of Wolfe than the adaptation that Disney + released a few months ago. Despite not sharing characters or situation, fidelity to these men with everything there is to have – used to living at a different speed and imperfect in their perfection – is very much alive. This time they have lost. They were not prepared to be worse than the rest. Surprises and dramatic twists and turns await them and viewers. As well as something necessary in a series of these times: anything can happen.
This domino effect also moves many more pieces. For example, we learn in a quick temporary montage that Prince Charles marries Camilla Parker Bowles, John Paul II is assassinated, Lennon lives, and Polanski is arrested. It does not affect the plot, although it fits a fun game of guessing what happened, and what did not, which brings realism. The twist transforms the series’ narrative in a more logical if unexpected way. Thanks to trying to be the first in something, the United States is established in a country that embraces feminism. Contrary to reality, women manage to occupy spaces of power reserved only for men in the Apollo. A hope opens.
Because all space opera it is hopeful by definition. If there are trips to space, it means that there is a future and things to discover. For all mankind It tries to be quite realistic and raw, but doesn’t miss those moments of space wonder as the last mysterious frontier. We remember Apolo 13 (still top in this cinema), From the Earth to the moon it is included Salyut-7, most unknown tape told from the Russian side about the first spacewalk. The space belongs to everyone.
For all mankind It also opened another frontier, by becoming one of the first AppleTV series. He founded a catalog that, given the lack of franchises and brands, has prioritized original projects and adult series. Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Calls, Dickinson, Central Park, Mythic Quest, Home before dark… Perhaps this first-time platform is not worth paying for its wardrobe, but what little it has, shines. Copying HBO at the beginning of the golden age of the series, its motto could well be: “This is not a platform of streaming, this is Apple ”. They are not ashamed to create chapters of more than an hour that simmer; they run away from the marathon and the throwaway series. They do not need to create content in spades, only series that are worth watching, discussing and thinking about. You just have to wait for them to achieve their Stranger Things (when they improve their application). The wickers are.
The important thing was not asking the questions. It was knowing how to answer them. The past has already changed, but what is clear is that For all mankind it has a lot of future.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.