The American science fiction drama television series All Mankind was developed by Ben Nedivi, Matt Wolpert, and Ronald D. Moore and produced on Apple TV+. A hypothetical history of “what would have happened if the global space race had never ended” is dramatized in the series following the Soviet Union’s successful first crewed Moon landing ahead of the United States. The phrase “We Came in Peace for All Mankind” is on a lunar plaque that the astronauts of Apollo 11 left behind on the moon, and it served as the inspiration for the title.
Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten, Jodi Balfour, Wrenn Schmidt, Sonya Walger, and Krys Marshall are among the ensemble cast members that star in the series. In the second season, Edi Gathegi joined the main cast, followed by Cynthy Wu, Casey W. Johnson, and Coral Peña in the third. The series features historical figures (played by actors or appearing through archival footage) including Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, Mercury Seven astronaut Deke Slayton, rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, astronaut Sally Ride, NASA administrator Thomas Paine, NASA flight director Gene Kranz, U.S. senators Ted Kennedy and Gary Hart, along with U.S. presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
For All Mankind Season Review
This week has seen a sharp decline in the months-long anticipation around Apple TV+ and the numerous A-list celebrities involved, as reviews have exposed a motley assortment of ill-conceived series that have supplanted ambitious concepts with lavish production values. It would therefore be weak praise to call glossy space race epic For All Mankind as the finest of the group but it’s suitably enjoyable and the first three episodes hint at the show it might become, something far better than it now is.
The retcon arrangement conjures up scenarios in which Russia emerged victorious in the space race and the first man on the moon declared “the Marxist, Leninist way of life” in his opening remarks. It does have a clever fakeout at the beginning, but in terms of alternate history plots, it’s hardly The Man in the High Castle, and Battlestar Galactica author Ronald D. Moore takes a while to convince us that his notion is worthwhile. The first episode’s bizarre rewriting of history and casual inclusion of the historical aftereffects (the Chappaquiddick event no longer occurred) make it more curious than compelling at points, bordering on smugness.
The main character at first is fictional astronaut Edward Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman), whose career is irrevocably altered by the advancements made by the Russians. Just as he was about to touch down on the moon, orbiting so close he could see its surface, his superiors pulled him back, deciding he wasn’t ready to take such a significant step just yet.
He gets demoted after telling a journalist in a drunken tirade how he feels about their timidity. As the show goes on, its viewpoint broadens and becomes more compelling as the more unexpected outcomes of the altered reality begin to materialize. Richard Nixon demanded that the US land a female astronaut on the moon if Russia’s second manned mission succeeded in sending a woman there.
Moving on from disillusioned heterosexual white men, we examine the ascent of female employees at NASA while also focusing on motivated white and black women. This makes it possible for some less typical conflicts to occur in a situation like this, when a woman tries to balance her life as a mother with her just-discovered career as an astronaut, all the while coping with the men in her life who don’t give her the credit she truly deserves.
The story bounces between the many threads and characters, with Moore juggling more balls with each episode. As the space competition heats up, Nixon also expresses a desire to establish a military station on the moon, evoking Trump’s space army. It is handled deftly at points, but other times it feels more disjointed. There isn’t a clear protagonist or at least a character who has had enough time to develop fully, so it begins to feel more like a mishmash of events and ideas than a coherent drama.
Although the stirring speeches aren’t that stirring, the production design is a stylish diversion, and Moore’s storytelling is often quite skillful, so it’s always worth seeing even if it doesn’t quite jump off the screen. He is the brains behind the fantasy smash Outlander as well as Battlestar Galactica, so he knows enough to pull this one off as a largely passable drama that won’t be anyone’s worst of the year but will be neither one’s favorite either. The people who have an extensive understanding of NASA in the late 1960s will likely benefit the most from this, while the general public will likely just be relieved that this is airing instead of one of Apple’s other programs.
“For All Mankind,” an Apple TV+ series, explores an alternate history where the Soviets win the space race, reshaping global events. The initial episodes introduce fictional astronaut Edward Baldwin, his altered career, and evolving storylines involving women at NASA. While the show boasts lavish production, its complex narrative lacks a clear protagonist, making it a somewhat disjointed but passable drama.