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Thumbs Up For All Mankind

I have finished watching For All Mankind, the four available seasons—I started a month and a half ago—and really enjoyed it. It sounds like a season five, if it happens, will be a ways off (due in large part to last year’s strikes).

It’s well cast, with a rich cast of characters. I enjoyed the “alt. history” aspect, and the VFX and production design were first-rate (and looked very expensive). The conceit of following people across 30+ years led to some unavoidably fake old-age makeup—but it still works.

Wrenn Schmidt is wonderful, and Margo Madison is a great character. The best Southern accent on television!

The only scenes that struck me as false were the White House scenes in the third season. The President and her apparatus were much too small. And everybody who has watched The West Wing this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.

Did you watch that clip? Pretty good, right! Oh, good times.

For All Mankind made me sad that we’re not doing space travel in any significant way, nor does it look like we will. Sigh.

One last thought about watching four seasons back to back. It’s a very useful television-writing exercise, to watch how the various threads are laid out and built into a climax. By the end of season four, I had a general sense of the move/countermove/counter-countermove dynamics that would occur, and how those would fall to various characters to further or complete their arcs.

But it all tends to become a blur. By the middle of each season, I struggled to remember what the big crises were in the previous year. It’s insightful to see how it’s just sort of about working you up into a big ball of tension, to release it at the finale.

Oh, I just described storytelling!

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