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The twelve episodes follow the Apollo space program from a variety of viewpoints: (1) "Can We Do This?" maps the origins of Apollo and its Mercury and Gemini roots; (2) "Apollo 1" tells of the tragic fire and the subsequent finger-pointing; (3) "We Have Cleared the Tower" portrays the intense preparation for Apollo 7; (4) "1968" puts Apollo 8 into its historical context against events of the era; (5) "Spider" shows the engineering POV through the design, building, and testing of the LEMs with Apollos 9 and 10, (6) "Mare Tranquilitatis" shows the deeper considerations behind the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing; (7) "That's All There Is" portrays the camaraderie of the Apollo 12 crew; (8) "We Interrupt This Program" shows a by-now-indifferent media galvanized by the events of Apollo 13; (9) "For Miles and Miles" tells of Alan Shepherd's return to the manned program with Apollo 14 after being grounded between Mercury and Gemini; (10) "Galileo Was Right" show the non-piloting demands on ... Written by
During the Apollo 11 landing in "Mare Tranquilitatis", flight director Gene Kranz repeatedly includes "booster" in his controller polls. Booster controllers were present only during powered flight on the Saturn booster. Their job was done at the end of translunar injection and they were long gone by landing. See more »
[Reading telegrams to the Apollo 8 crew during their mission]
And we've got a telegram here from a Mrs. Valerie Pringle. I'm sure it's not a name that any of you recognize, it's just something that one of the Public Affairs people picked up 'cause he liked it. Mrs. Pringle writes, very simply, "You saved 1968."
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When I first heard of this series when HBO previewed it long before it aired, I was immediately hooked. When it finally aired, it lived up to more than what I expected. When it finally came out in video as a boxed set, it was natural for me to get it. Occasionally, some of the scenes still bring me very close to tears.
This mini-series details the history of the Apollo program from how manned spaceflight got started to the last man on the moon. It very accurately details how we achieved humankind's greatest feat ever: the voyage to, exploration of, and return from, the moon, while adding a very reasonable dramatic twist to it. There are moments where you might laugh, and there are moments where you might feel like crying. There will also be moments where you might feel something else.
Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and the rest of the production staff did an absolutely amazing job in putting this together, everything from the visual effects to the cast and crew. The casting was done so great that this is the first time you cannot pin leading roles in any of the episodes let alone the whole series, even with big names (Hanks, Tony Goldwyn, Mark Harmon, Adam Baldwin, Tim Daly, Cary Elwes, Jay Mohr, Stephen Root, and Lane Smith, not to mention several other big names). Even the writer of the book it's based on, Andrew Chaikin, gets a cameo as the host for "Meet the Press." The soundtrack to this day continues to give me goosebumps highlighting the emotional nature of this series.
Each episode (except episode 12) starts with Hanks as the "host" telling a short anecdote which ties into the episode. The series starts off with featuring the start of the U.S. Manned Space Program versus the Soviet program, highlighting the "firsts" in space by the Soviets and then the Americans, from Mercury to Gemini to the development of Apollo. Episode 2 centers on Apollo 1 fire and the resulting investigation. Episode 3 involves the resumption of the program and highlights the crew before they lift off.
Other Highlightable episodes include the fourth episode, called "1968," which despite how devastating the events of that year were, the Apollo 8 mission helped the year close on a more positive note. The sixth episode highlights the famous Apollo 11 landing on the moon and the first man to step on the moon. Episode 8 is notable for Apollo 13 after its explosion and how the media was trying to find almost anything to feed a hungry audience with tabloid journalism instead of just the facts. Episode 11 is very notable since it focuses on how the wives of Apollo astronauts were affected by their husband's celebrity status and how they coped through the tense, exciting and devastating times. Episode 12, probably one of the most emotional episodes in the series, is about Apollo 17 (the last mission on the moon) and how this mission relates to the a dream from 70 years before by a man called George Melies when he created the moving picture "Le Voyage Dans La Lune." The performances of Hanks (his only appearance as an actor in the series), Daniel Hugh Kelley, Tom Amandes, Tchéky Karyo, Lane Smith, and Stephen Root, with the voice-over of Blythe Danner, make this episode very emotional, especially with everyone except for Karyo in interviews as their older selves.
As much factual information is used while keeping any fictionalized material to a minimum, such as the TV network featuring Emmitt Seaborn (Lane Smith)anchoring the missions for the nation.
This mini-series reminds me what we have worked for in our society and how we are letting that deteriorate now. Back then, it was a man landing on the moon that united the world. It makes you think whether we need something at that caliber to reunite our world today, and how we need to forget our petty differences and better our society as a whole. When you watch this, should think about that, because this is a series you will absolutely never forget.
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