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Apple TV + review: ‘For All Mankind’ goes 80s in engaging second season

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The alternate story drama “For All Mankind” moves forward in time, to a tense 80s Cold War on the moon.

In an era of many different shows about the past and present of the space program, Apple’s entry, “For All Mankind,” was one of the most creatively successful. The show, created by “Battlestar Galactica” veteran Ron Moore – starring Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi – is another take on the history of the Apollo program, which combines familiar tropes of the genre with intriguing historical assumptions.

The first season, which took place between the late 1960s and early 1970s, explored what could have happened if the Soviets beat the United States on the Moon and the space race s ‘was continued much longer. The premise followed this idea to several fun historical burrows, such as Ted Kennedy, after skipping that fateful trip to Chappaquiddick, being elected president in 1972.

The initial season of “For All Mankind” debuted on the day Apple TV + launched in November 2019. The aesthetic, whether at NASA Headquarters or in space, was essentially identical in places similar in space program movies like Good things, Apollo 13 and First man.

But the show had a lot of fun with the vanity of the alternate story. Most of the actors were made up of fictional characters, but it also incorporated real people, with veteran actor Chris Bauer playing Deke Slayton, who lived a very different life in “For All Mankind” – and died a very different death. – than the real Slayton’s.

There have been adventures in space, yes. But the series was – and remains – much more of a human drama than a science fiction show.

Front flash

Michael Dorman in the second season of

Michael Dorman in the second season of “For All Mankind,” which premiered February 19, 2021 on Apple TV +.

The second season of “For All Mankind” follows the premise of the first season in intriguing directions. The ten-episode season kicks off February 19, with one episode starting every Friday through April 23; I saw the first three.

As noted at the end of the season one finale, the new season begins with a time jump to the early 1980s. It begins with a cut-out letting us know what the butterfly effect of its alternate reality has. product, including the election of Ronald Reagan in 1976, and an Iranian hostage crisis that ended much faster than the real one.

This brings us to 1983, when the US and USSR established bases on the moon, leading to a microcosm of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race unfolding on lunar service.

The end of the first episode features a truly formidable play, set on the moon. Most of the series, however, takes place on Earth, as we catch up with the characters from the first season a decade later. And what emerges most often, in the second season, is compelling human drama regardless of the alternate history gimmick.

Gordo and Baldwin

Joel Kinnaman in the second season of

Joel Kinnaman in the second season of “For All Mankind” premiering February 19, 2021 on Apple TV +.

Gordo, played by Michael Dornan, of the Amazon show “Patriot,” is overweight and plagued by PTSD from his breakdown in season one and is faced with the prospect of a return to space. This comes as bad news for his ex-wife Tracy (Sarah Jones), who doesn’t want to be an “astro wife” as she puts it in one of the episodes.

Meanwhile, Joel Kinnaman’s Edward Baldwin is behind a desk and also deals with conflict at home. And Wrenn Schmidt’s Margo Madison is the new land boss.

Take directions

The show looks and sounds pretty much like the first season, except for a lot of 1980s pop standards on the soundtrack. Moore remains the showrunner, and the show repeats its first season pattern of having five different directors each direct two episodes at a time.

One of them is Andrew Stanton, the longtime Pixar hand who made The life of an insect, The world of Nemo, and WALL-E, and is the director of the third and fourth episodes of the new season.

Multimedia ‘Mankind’

Season two of

Season two of “For All Mankind,” premiered February 19, 2021 on Apple TV +.

Apple clearly believes in the possibilities of “For All Mankind”, even beyond the renewal of the third season. It got the kind of multimedia push that hasn’t been given to Apple TV + shows so far, because it’s the subject of a podcast, and also an augmented reality “experience”.

“For All Mankind”, like “Dickinson” before it, was renewed for a third season even before the second was premiered. And while “Dickinson” wrapped up the second season of filming before the pandemic began, “For All Mankind” had to take a month-long hiatus before resuming last August.

The series managed to build on the successes of its first season and came into force in its second.

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