An Entertaining, Tense & Informative Look At The Space Race From The Inside
I was fortunate enough to see this on its original TBS broadcast in 1994 and have just finished re-watching it for the first time in several years in honor of the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Having not seen it in so long and having been highly impressed with then, I was intrigued to see this again and wondered if my wonderful memories of it were still true. As it turns out, the memory didn't cheat on this occasion. Moon Shot was a fantastic and personal look at the Space Race from its beginning in 1957 to effective epilogue in 1975.
This documentary series is based upon the book written by astronauts Deke Slayton and Alan Shephard (both of whom are now deceased). The series is told from the point of view of Slayton in the form of narration from actor Barry Corbin. Corbin proves to be a perfect choice for the voice of Slayton (who died during the making of the series in 1993). As Slyaton, Corbin brings a wide range of emotions to his narration rather then a possibly monotone form of narration and by the end of it one could be convinced he is Slayton. Corbin though is the tip of the iceberg.
The series is also full of interviews as well. These range from other astronauts (including the book's co-author Alan Shephard) plus various individuals such as those who worked for NASA or reporters who covered NASA in this period. The interviewees each bring their own personal perspectives and allow for a much fuller version of events to be shared. The interviews also present a rather interesting historical document in themselves as many of the astronauts interviewed including Shephard, Wally Schirra and Stu Roosa to name a few have since passed away (Roosa passing away just months after the original broadcast). The interviews represent both a fuller picture of events and an interesting historical document rolled into one.
The series also makes extensive use of archive material as well. Much credit goes to the filmmakers in successfully bringing nearly twenty years worth of events into a just over three hour package which is entertaining, tense and informative even to someone who has spent their life studying the space program. Whiel there is a considerable amount of mixing and matching of stock footage which can become noticeable at times if you know enough, I suspect that the general viewer will remain oblivious to much of that (as I did until my most recent viewing). All in all though it is program that counts and the fact that this is as fascinating to watch today as it was fifteen years ago should speak to the success of the filmmakers.
Moon Shot isn't just another documentary on the Space Race. It is that familiar story told from the perspective of those on the inside of those events ranging from Deke Slyaton (in the form of Corbin's fine narration), interviews and archival footage in a from that is never boring but entertaining, tense and informative. As a result, Moon Shot (like its literary counterpart) takes a fascinating period of history where man first reached out into the night sky come alive again and, as someone who was born well after the fact, offers an amazing gateway into the past. I highly recommended this series along with the films For All Manking and In The Shadow Of The Moon as the best programs to watch about the Apollo missions.
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