From the Earth to the Moon (“Le Voyage Dans La Lune”)

Part 12 of 12
Date of airing: May 10, 1998 (HBO)

This was close to being a bittersweet episode, because as the end of this episode established, mankind hasn’t returned to the moon, and even if Orange Hitler Donald Trump and his gay-bashing vice president have said that America is going to return to the moon, it’s not like this is actually happening in this political climate. It was also bittersweet, because here was the premise of mankind leaving the moon, while also opening up other opportunities for the future, and all I could think of was how this episode could have ended with the visual depiction of Mars, or how the end credits of the episode could have been like those of IRON SKY — move away from the moon and the Earth, but at the end of the three minutes of credits, you are close to Mars. If FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON would have been produced a decade or two later, I’m pretty sure the zoom to Mars at the very end of the show had been a huge possibility considering by then we have already gone through various Mars rover missions, have seen color pictures of the surface of the red planet, and we were already anticipating pictures of Pluto and beyond, as New Horizons lifted off in 2006 and delivered Pluto and its heart to mankind in 2015. But alas, FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON is 1990s television, so the love story was with the moon and the Apollo program entirely.

It’s hard to shoot a sci-fi movie on just one stage.

I loved the split nature of the episode, and how it went through the final Apollo mission, as well as the creation of LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE, almost making me wish there could in fact be a film about the creation of George Melies’ film. First of all, the making of the film gave new information to me, because I didn’t know that Melies was robbed off the money he would have otherwise made with his film in America. It almost makes me want to check out whether Melies’ family was reimbursed in some way later, as an apology from Hollywood (probably not, because Hollywood does not seem to be into this whole apology thing), because what they did was truly an asshole move, but these were the early 1900s, and who could have known that stealing a movie was so easy and yet difficult to do? By the way, if someone from the 2000s would travel back to 1900 and would make a movie about the moon with the science you learned about during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, how would that movie be reviewed back in the day? Did anyone even have the idea to create a realistic and scientifically grounded moon-based film back in the first decades of the twentieth century, or was it all a Jules Verle-like fantasy? Yes, back then the science wasn’t known at all about how to get to the moon, and what it looks like up there, but a realistic portrayal — a wasteland of a dark and colorless desert, no moon people, no volcanos making your life easier, small spaceships landing there, people in spacesuits… That kind of stuff. Was the idea there? Did people expect for the moon to be a dead wasteland with absolutely nothing interesting on it? Was that science there for mankind in the late 1800s?

Meanwhile, the depiction of the Apollo 17 mission was what made this episode bittersweet. Knowing that this is the last mission, the astronauts knowing that they were the last ones to see the surface of the moon with their own eyes, to be the final humans to have the opportunity to do something with the chance they have bene given (like Gene putting the initials of his daughter in the sand of the moon)… It’s like saying goodbye forever to the family you love, or leaving a place you have lived at for years and years for the final time, or maybe even realizing you’re dying and leaving the realm of life. By the way, the Apollo 17 crew was on the lunar surface for three days, and again I am asking myself what the command module pilot was doing in that time. Being alone in a tiny spaceship for three days, orbiting around the moon and listening to radio chatter, must be crazy and weird and fantastic at the same time, but again, the writers of this show (Tom Hanks with a sole writing credit this time around) neglected to make it part of the show itself. What are pilots doing in the days alone around a celestial body, while the other pilots and astronauts are on the surface of that celestial body?

The last shot to the moon comes with resting periods.

At the end of the day, I can only hope that as a kid of the 1990s, I will experience the landing of the moon, or maybe even Mars, with my own eyes. On a television screen, as the astronauts should broadcast their experience live. Whether it will be on a six-second delay, because the landing is on the moon, or on a multiple-minute delay, because the landing is on Mars. Here is to hoping that science and space isn’t just politics, because here is a generation in the need for a worldwide human experience. And while the moon landings might not have done it, considering wars and death and famine and all that stuff were still happening in the 1970s and later, a Mars landing televised worldwide might be a nice way to just put a stop to the craziness of the world, and remember where we all came from, and how much knowledge we have come to possess to leave the place we were born on, to reach for the stars, and to spread our wings.

From the Earth to the Moon (“The Original Wives Club”)

Part 11 of 12
Date of airing: May 10, 1998 (HBO)

The Bormans and the Lovells were still married after all these years. One of them was defined by their love for each other, the other couple was going through some serious hardships, but came out of it healthy and with their love still intact. The marriages of astronauts and their wives is a little harder to put into a normal average, to see whether marriages keep going or are divorced, because of the pressure of the men’s jobs, but the Apollo marriages were pretty obviously not ready for the tasks and demands of an astronaut, as most of the marriages crashed and burned, even if most of them did so about a decade after. This as a nice episode to show exactly that, and how love and affection and appreciation was sometimes not enough to keep the marriages alive. The astronauts’ jobs were to not crash into a building or onto a field and to land the freaking lander on the moon. The wives’ jobs was to raise the children and to protect their husbands from troublesome home lives. I have no idea if there was truth to it, but the way Marilyn Lovell kept things from Jim was probably the prime example of how much the wives had to work to not only keep the marriages alive, but also protect the husbands from not losing focus on their NASA jobs, which needed the men’s undivided attention that could have easily flown out the window if someone like Jim Lovell would have learned that his kids were in the hospital, albeit just for procedural surgeries. And now I really want to know if Marilyn Lovell kept all the things from her husband for real, and if it ever was a serious problem in their relationship. I would also love to know if Jim and Marilyn ever had the talk about what she kept from him to protect him.

Tragic news is incoming.

I loved that each act of this episode was centered on another one of the wives, giving as much focus and attention on them as possible, after previous episode didn’t focus on them at all, with the exception of one or two acts during “Apollo One” for obvious reasons. While Susan Borman was one of the wives with their chapters, making her the wife with the mot screentime (after all, she was sometimes the focal point in the storytelling during the Apollo 8 mission, depicting for the first time what the family down on the ground were feeling when the astronauts were up there), I loved the focus on Pat White and Marilyn Lovell, and how both women were essentially on opposite sides of the astronaut wives club spectrum. Marriages fail almost everywhere, so you can’t even say anything special about the astronaut marriages that failed during the 1970s and 80s, but Pat lost her husband in the Apollo 1 fire, and Marilyn was married for the entirety of the program and beyond. One marriage was successful, the other prematurely ended in a deadly accident. One marriage continued on, the other lost both members to death, but a decade and a half apart. There were different levels of emotions in that premise, but for some reason the experience of the wives was still the same, as there wasn’t a lot of distance between the two. Marilyn could have easily been in Pat’s shoes, and Pat never got to know if her marriage to Ed was something special, and could have hold together for years and decades. It’s pretty obvious the writers thought the same, or otherwise Pat wouldn’t have been the center of attention between the death of her husband and the other wives’ mention that they missed Pat, and the episode wouldn’t have started with Marilyn moving to astronauts’ town, as well as the episode putting so much emphasis on the scene when Jim realized he was kind of kept away from his kids’ lives. It makes one think whether Marilyn was the front wife of the astronauts wives club, and if Pat was something of a black sheep, because her husband was one of the first dying on the job, and she had a lot of time just looking at all the other successes, unable to build an emotional connection with each of them, because why was she pretty much the only one to live through the trauma of losing her husband?

Meanwhile, this episode gave me what I was asking for in previous episodes, when I was missing character depth through the characters of the wives, while their astronaut husbands were working on the moon. First of all, I wasn’t expecting that all those reactions (minus Susan’s, who got her own story in the Apollo 8 episode) to be collected in a single episode, but when it started, I didn’t even expect to be emotionally assaulted like that, when Marilyn was at Marilyn See’s house to keep her away from the press and radio, or when Pat realized Ed died (granted, it was reused footage from “Apollo One,’ but it’s still one of the most powerful moments of the entire series). I mean, holy shit… Marilyn knew that Marilyn See’s husband was dead, but she had to act like everything was fine, until at least Marilyn See could be officially told. How much of an emotional torture must that have been for Marilyn Lovell?

This marriage could end right here, or it could define itself.

There should be more stuff like this out there. I know that ABC did a miniseries titled THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB, but if I remember correctly, it didn’t rally get rave reviews, and I’m not that interested to watch an entire series about the wives only, not even after I really wanted to watch it, which was a feeling that dissipated ten seconds after I wrote that sentence for the “Mare Tranquilitatis” review . A feature film in the vein of Jan Armstrong’s portrayal in FIRST MAN is all I need right now. A miniseries that goes into each wife with importance is great. Like, an extended edition of this episode, focusing even more on Pat, and what she had to go through to accept Ed’s death and her standing as one of the original astronaut wives. Maybe even more of Susan, because her secret alcohol problem intrigued me, and were perfect for a little soap opera-ish story arc. Maybe even Marilyn Lovell, whose efforts to keep her husband protected from emotional troubles led to a fine and exceptional marriage between the two.

Rita Wilson and Jo Anderson delivered standout performances during this episode. They reminded me once more why I love watching emotional drama stuff, rather than sitcom or silly genre shows. Those two almost made me cry during this hour, and there is never a better feeling for me than being emotionally affected by scripted television.

From the Earth to the Moon (“Galileo Was Right”)

Part 10 of 12
Date of airing: May 3, 1998 (HBO)

Nothing suspenseful and tense seemed to have happened between the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, so the writers decided to get into the context and science of the missions, making this episode essentially the beginning of a context-filled Apollo missions, something the others didn’t have, although it’s to be argued whether there was more to Apollo 11 than just landing on the moon and bringing home some random rocks. The Apollo 15 crew might have been turned into geologists for an adventure of the moon (and so the 16 and 17 crew, judging my the image of how many Apollo program astronauts were part of Lee Silver’s class), but the question remains whether the Apollo 11 to 14 crews were also taught by professors of the science to understand a little more about the moon, to look further than just the next rock lying right in front of you in the dust. Did Neil Armstrong know to not just do that, but look for a specific rock (or get to the nearest mini crater — and he did shoot a picture of the lunar module from the side of one of the mini craters), or was he not told to do that and just focus on being on the moon and have some fun for two hours and a few minutes, and make the lunar surface trips short as possible, considering it was the first-ever lunar trip?

Welcome to the moon part of the Earth.

I loved the scientific angle of the episode, even if I barely understood anything, thanks to the fact that I don’t know anything about geology, let alone can distinguish rocks from each other. If this had been a 90-minute show, maybe the writers would have had more time to show the change in the knowledge the Apollo 15 crew was getting (compared to previous Apollo flight crews), would have gotten deeper into the science, like how APOLLO 13 went into turning down both the command module and lunar module (as part of a depiction of technological science, as well as computing), which might have been scenes cut from the FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON episode, if the film had not existed, but hey, this episode worked the way it was built around the geological aspect of the mission, making me realize that from Apollo 15 on, the missions must have been more complex and difficult to do, as you couldn’t just land on the moon for a few hours and do some sightseeing and set up some long-lasting experiments with the help of machines that were left behind — and you couldn’t depict that in a scripted television series either, as it would have gotten boring after a short while. Hell, we didn’t even see Apollo 15 launch, splash down, let alone land on the lunar surface. All this we have seen from the previous missions already. Now it’s time to actually go straight into the science of the moon and find out what makes the moon the moon. We know it’s there, we have stepped foot on it. Now to research it.

For one, I never heard of the genesis rock, and you can bet your life savings on me hitting up this part of Apollo 15’s history on the internet, as soon as I am done writing this wall of text, because the science aspect of finding out what the moon is and where it came from is intriguing to me, and this without having to watch a television series about the Apollo missions. Knowing how planets came to be is part of the universe’s history I want to know about, seeing what planets look like after we did a flyby of it, like New Horizons visited Pluto in July 2015, is something I always have a boner for. Seeing strange worlds for the first time must be exciting, because you never know when you see something that enriches your knowledge about something, or exceeds it, or gives you all the context you were looking for, or didn’t even know you needed. Yes, Apollo 15 went to the moon to look for a particular rock to unlock a specific door of mystery, so that all the theories spoken about where the moon came from can be proven (like Dave proved Galileo right at the end of the mission), but what if you found a rock you didn’t even expect to find there? Voila, a lot more doors opened, a lot more science for you to go through, a lot more answers found out to questions you didn’t even know to ask.

Astronauts are totally into rock porn.

With all the science aspects of the episode, there was barely time to focus on the characters of the hour. After 53 minutes I don’t know anything about the Apollo 15 astronauts, I even know less about Lee Silver. It’s one of the problems FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON always had, but with the general excitement of the Apollo missions waning as the numbers go up, I was hoping for more focus on some of the characters. It turns out the writers continued to focus on the premise and left the characters on the side of the road, which I am sad about. Hopefully there will be a spaceflight television show in the near future that manages to join the scientific part of the achievements with the characters of the story.

From the Earth to the Moon (“For Miles and Miles”)

Part 9 of 12
Date of airing: May 3, 1998 (HBO)

This episode turned from a depiction of the Apollo 14 mission into a biography of Alan B. Shepard Jr., which seemed like it was the right thing to do. FROM THE EARHT TO THE MOON hasn’t been known to focus on the characters, because it looked like the missions were more important for the writers and producers, but now that all the major historical events have been breakfasted throughout the show and there aren’t any more Firsts to get through and celebrate them with patriotism as major historical facts, the writers finally got an opportunity to focus on the people behind the mission and give them depth, and maybe even get into the science of the missions. And holy cow, did Alan Shepard have depth in this episode. From being the first American in space, who gets ridiculed and roasted for being in space for only 15 minutes, gets confused for John Glenn, gets made fun of during banquets for the little work he has done to become part of spaceflight history, to the fifth human being on the moon, it’s kind of astounding, especially when you bring his medical history into his story, and how there was a chance he would never fly again, becoming a caricature of himself, as the once celebrated American astronaut would turn into a forgotten footnote in American history. According to this episode, he must have had a tense life, and not just because he is being made a joke out of, thanks to him being the first American person in space. I’s almost like he had to prove to the entire world that he was still an astronaut and a pilot by taking part in the Apollo program and making himself available to step on the moon. Alan Shepard was actively trying to write his own legacy.

The man cannot drive, so the wife has to help out.

Watching this episode, I realized that Shepard is an interesting personality for a biopic in the vein of FIRST MAN, simply because of the fact that he was going through some medical troubles and then had to show everyone off at the end. Besides that, the auto abort drama right before the descent made for another spaceflight thriller, and once more I realized how much I am getting out of FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, not having known about all the little problems the crews had faced during their spaceflights. Besides, the notion of an on-board computer being manipulated into thinking it’s already in auto-abort mode when it really wasn’t gives me chills. Something in the coding of the software must have happened for the computer to force Antares into an auto-abort, and something must have happened to the computer when Shepard and Ed Mitchell were rewriting the software, while waiting to descent to the lunar surface. Holy hell, that is some kickass technology making here – I would sweat all my salty waters out, knowing I had to rewrite a software while also preparing to land on the moon, and all this within less than an hour, because a) the Antares was closing in on the far side of the moon, and b) the ship was probably not allowed to be in orbit for this long. It does tell you how focused the astronauts must have been, and how the missions were never easy, let alone free of certain hiccups. At the end of the day, the explosion at Apollo 13 was just a hiccup, but one that happened to create a ton more hiccups. The Apollo 14 flight only had one hiccup, and lucky for the astronauts it only troubled them during the time before the descent.

Americans like to play golf, even on the moon.

Meanwhile, the biographical bits and pieces of Alan Shepards’s life were interesting. I laughed when the secretary put the “mood of the day” picture of Alan’s pissed-off and angry face on the door, and I was worried for the guy when he didn’t know whether he would fly or not, including the scene on the training grounds, when he had to tell his crew they were grounded from Apollo 13. I mean, here is a guy with a questionable health record and because he never gave up on flying again, he stood with the program and essentially had to be grounded again, with two of his crew who were perfectly healthy and ready to fly. Shepard’s ego almost might have killed the career and spaceflight aspects of Mitchell and Stu Roosa, but I guess all these astronauts were professionals, and they didn’t take it personal when the health of one of them grounded them all. That makes me think, was Ken Mattingly only replaced with Jack Swigert, because Apollo 13 was to launch in a few days, and if the fear of Mattingly getting the German measles had arrived earlier, the entire crew would have been swapped? Hey Deke Slayton, maybe you should get into it a little, because it’s an interesting thing to talk about.

From the Earth to the Moon (“We Interrupt This Program”)

Part 8 of 12
Date of airing: April 26, 1998 (HBO)

This was the first chapter of the show that didn’t feel like it was just ripped out of the history books, with the writers attempting to create one factoid after another, turning this miniseries into a scripted documentary with A and B-list actors from television and film. This was a chapter of the series that took part of the history and made it their own — or at least it’s what I would say, because I can’t quite imagine that the rivalry between Emmett Seaborn and Brett Hutchins was taken from history books, let alone do I not know whether or not those two characters really existed or if they were amalgamated from various real-life personalities who reported on the Apollo 13 mission during the fateful week in April of 1970. And since the Apollo 13 mission has already been depicted in great visuals only a couple of years prior to the production of this episode, the writers of FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON essentially had to find a way to get through this premise of their show without being repetitive. Depicting the mission from the point of view of the press and reporters was a great idea, and the tension between Emmett and Brett brought something to the show it didn’t have previously — actual tension between characters which you could have cut with a knife it was this dramatic. Besides that, this episode is not just about the Apollo 13 mission from the point of view of the reporters, but it’s also a story about two reporters on opposite ends of the journalism spectrum. One just wants to speak the truth and give the viewers what they need to hear, the other is out for emotionally manipulative and sensationalist pieces, void of depth and science, because that’s what the reporter thinks the viewers want to see and hear. In a way, it’s a story about Emmett who is stuck in the old world of reporting, and Brett who has found out how to get the viewers and more stories to report, because he doesn’t care about the rules.

During NASA’s finest hour, bathroom breaks were allowed.

I even felt a little emotional by the end, when Emmett realized that his network isn’t interested in him any longer, and that Brett’s pushy ways have made it to television. You can watch this episode during the “fake news” narrative one Orange Hitler Donald Trump has been pushing since 2016, and you will realize there are quite a few similarities of how certain groups of reporters and journalists get into action when they hear a certain story happening. And you get to realize that the reporters who follow the rules are punished for doing so, because when you follow the rules, you also don’t get the hooks the viewers are apparently interested in. And it’s understandable, too. Emmett was talking with science and tech words all this time, even if he tried to keep it as easily understandable as possible for his audience, but it’s an obvious fact that the network wasn’t interested in it, and that they preferred Brett’s way of climbing onto a tree and secretly filming the Lovell family (which is freaking creepy, by the way — NASA should have had every right to ice Brett out of the press room), because apparently that is the bigger story. It’s terrible to see news television behave that way, and now I’m learning it was as terrible back then as it is now, as the viewers aren’t even given the opportunity to face the complex vocabulary, which means the most truth. Folks, there is a reason shows like ER and THE WEST WING were a ratings success with their complex vocabulary and sheer focus on medicine and politics — which isn’t a field the average American television viewer is known to possess knowledge of. On the other hand, maybe these shows were a success, because of a person named John Wells, who just happens to be a great writer and producer.

We interrupt this program to destroy every journalistic ethics rule can think of.

At the end of the day, there isn’t much else to write about it, with the exception of me wondering how much of the radio chatter between the crew of Apollo 13 and mission control in Houston was the real deal, and how much was rerecorded with a cast of actors. The chatter sounded way too cleaned up to be real, so I figured for the sake of FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON being a scripted television drama, everything was essentially made for the series, with the exception of some pictures and video here and there (I mean, the live images of Neil Armstrong on the moon are legendary and part of history now, you can’t fake them or remake it to look a little better). But yeah, as exciting as this episode was, due to the different angle of how the Apollo 13 mission was depicted, there wasn’t much of a story here at all. You had the characters, you saw them tackle the story each in their own way, and you realized they were on opposite ends of the spectrum after the successful splashdown. Slightly dramatic, and definitely interesting, but due to the nature of FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON being more of a docu-fiction series, it’s almost certain that nothing this episode delivered in the way of character depth will be meaningful for future episodes.

From the Earth to the Moon (“That’s All There Is”)

Part 7 of 12
Date of airing: April 26, 1998 (HBO)

Apollo 12 — the most boring and forgettable mission of all, because the two most essential things that happened during the mission was the call for SCE to auxiliary, as well as Al Bean smashing the camera on the moon, giving nothing but emptiness back to Earth. It’s kind of interesting how this episode is going to be in a sharp contrast with the next one, or maybe just the film APOLLO 13 itself. Apollo 12 seemed like a perfectly executed mission, in which everything went as it should be, if you exclude the little moment of panic during the liftoff, when lightning hit the spacecraft and served the three astronauts a couple of seconds of heart attacks. Apollo 12 seemed like the mission to tell yourself that moon landings aren’t that exciting anymore, because you don’t know anything about the science behind the missions, or aren’t interested in it, so you lose interest in the entire program, simply because nothing exciting happened during the mission as it was executed without faults. Apollo 12 was the mission that might have started the rumor of NASA losing some of its money, because the Russians have been beaten, so why should we continue to go to the moon?

Apollo astronauts have to train for everything.

The contrast is ridiculously intriguing, and damn, would the show have been great, if it had find a way to join Apollo 12 and 13 somehow, and show that the space missions are never easy, and that even Apollo 12 had moments so tense, your heart would have jumped out of your chest. Even if it didn’t look like for almost the entire episode, thanks to the ludicrous easiness of the crew and how Al Bean commented from the off that the three have been best friends through flight training, the actual mission, and then afterwards. Damn, Al Bean, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon talked and hung around each other like they were a set of triplets, never to be separated, always being with each other, experience the same adventures, having the same interests, talking the same words while doing the same jobs. If this had been a porn parody, it would have been certain that the three guys were all into each other, intertwined and laughing and happy, and definitely not ashamed or embarrassed over how dirty they are, never humiliated by the thoughts they expressed with words. I almost can’t believe that the three were indeed best friends forever, because the Apollo 12 mission must have ran like a well-oiled machine.

Because barely anything worthy mentioning happened in this episode, what can there be said about this hour? Maybe Paul McCrane took some of his cocky attitude into the character of Pete Conrad, or maybe Conrad really was this carefree and friendly and funny and on-the-nose and freaking foul-mouthed during training. Maybe Dave Foley was a little too youthful for his character, as his face looked like he was a proper astronaut with some experience, but his voice sounded like he was about to spend a hot summer with a 17-year-old in a random small town during 1950s America, before getting killed by a murderous shapeshifting clown. And maybe I would have loved to see more of Dick Gordon, because what FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON hasn’t managed to do yet is giving examples of what the command module pilot was doing, when the commander and LEM pilot were on the moon. Dick was obviously working on something, but dammit, I’m interested in seeing what the command module pilot is doing when the real action is happening on the moon, and I’m especially interested in learning what they do and think about when they are alone for a day or two. The lunar missions got only longer with each Apollo flight, so it’s even more important to showcase what happened in the command module, and what this kind of loneliness and isolation can do to someone professional as an astronaut, who was trained to be in isolation for an extended period of time.

This is the moment the Apollo program turned into an X-rated adventure

Plus points for all the funny moments of the episode through. “Survey — Her Activity” gave me a good chuckle (was this the first and only time someone looked at porn on the moon?), and Pete and Al getting into the command module naked after docking was also hilarious as hell, because I can’t imagine they were indeed strapped in and prepping to burn their way out of lunar orbit without wearing any underwear. By the way, the first R-rated imagery of this very G-rated production of HBO — consider me surprised.

From the Earth to the Moon (“Mare Tranquilitatis”)

Part 6 of 12
Date of fairing: April 19, 1998 (HBO)

In which the show gets a little more patriotic, because it was depicting the moon landing, which is one of the most successful arcs of the United States of America, let alone humanity, so of course there could not be any bad feelings towards anything in this episode. What a shame that Buzz Aldrin wasn’t listening, because it looked like he had some feelings towards the fact that he wasn’t the first one getting out of the lunar module, which means he would not be the first one to step foot on the moon. It was essentially the only notable storyline of the episode (if you exclude the actual moon landing), and it was kind of fascinating, because chances are you probably didn’t know how uneasy Buzz’s feelings were about being the second man on the moon. Then again, this could have been a fictional account of his life during pre-flight training in the Spring of 1969, but considering how FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON was always close to being a scripted documentary, chances are Buzz really had those feelings and may have quit the program over this kind of petty stuff. What this episode was missing though was a little bot of a talk about how Neil and Buzz weren’t just bringing themselves on the moon, but also humanity. Buzz not having thought about that in the months leading up to the launch obviously had him missing some point of the whole Apollo program, but the interview sequences with Emmett could have deserved a scene that was about Buzz realizing he would not be the first on the moon, but he would still carry humanity on his shoulders.

Pre-flight television interviews are the hardest and most useless.

It was a solid episode, although maybe it had been a good idea to showcase some of the troubles the astronauts went through to get to the moon. The crash of the Flying Bedstead is a known accident and I was hoping for it to be captured for this episode (although I couldn’t really remember if it was Neil’s accident, and I’m far out of having watched FIRST MAN now), but the 1201 and 1202 master alarms during the lunar descent could have been played at more greatly. They were part of the “Go!” song from Public Service Broadcasting’s Apollo-focused instrumental album (it’s my favorite number of said album) and they were the moments of tension that brought sheer thrill to the moon landing sequence in the Ryan Gosling-led biopic. In this episode though they seemed like a momentary lapse during an otherwise successful mission and no one is going to remember how chaotic it may have been during the 1201 and 1202 alarms. But I do appreciate that almost the entire landing sequence was depicted here, as well as how Buzz continuously gave Neil the data he needed to land the Eagle, especially the moments Neil was not horizontal to the moon surface and Buzz had to remind him of that fact twice or three times. Lunar landings probably don’t look exciting for some people, but similar to the pre-launch scenes in “We Have Cleared the Tower,” those brought a lot of awe into my brain. So may things to not forget during the landing, and both Buzz and Neil did not forget anything.

Meanwhile, I was missing the part of the Apollo 11 mission that happened after the landing and Neil and Buzz’s first few steps on the moon. Michael Collins mentioned some experiments he would be doing while in the command module, but barely anything was seen of him while Neil and Buzz conquered their first interplanetary body of human history. The simple notion of being all alone should have deserved a scene or two, simply just to see how Mike is coping with the fact that he truly was disconnected to everyone. Granted, he had radio contact with Eagle and Houston, but if the mission on the moon had gotten south, Mike would have been the sole survivor of the flight, and he would have taken the trip back home to Earth all by himself — let that not only sink in for a moment, but let Mike talk about it for longer than just mentioning that the crew has been trained for potential events like this. All of sudden I would love to see a television series with a lonely astronaut up in space, lost and unable to return. We may have had that with THE MARTIAN recently, but how about making it a lot more complicated and thrilling? Okay, I’m gonna rewatch THE MARTIAN now.

It’s human’s first look at the lunar horizon.

Also missing were a few scenes with the wives of the astronauts on or around the moon. It’s an aspect FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON regularly decided to cut in favor of some hard science stuff or more Apollo history notes, but the things about this episode is that the wives were entirely absent, not even mentioned throughout these 56 minutes, which is kind of a huge letdown. You set up your Apollo-focused spaceflight miniseries on HBO, got a ton of cash to make it, have twelve episodes to do so and then you still miss out on certain aspects of the spaceflight program. Do I have to watch THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB now, which wasn’t really a well-received show to begin with? Considering my hunger for more spaceflight drama, I would have to think about watching the ABC miniseries now. Right after I finished rewatching THE MARTIAN.