Ronald D. Moore's underrated alternate history space race saga For All Mankind returns for a third season on Apple TV+ this Friday. The series started with a unique premise — what if the Soviet Union landed on the moon before the U.S. did?
For All Mankind follows Moore's Battlestar Galactica blueprint. Space is fascinating to explore, and the visual effects can be dazzling, but at the heart of the series is character development that makes us really care about those intimately involved with the stars above.
The drama carefully navigates the thin line between actual history and manufactured events during its updated timeline. Fake history is difficult to pull off on TV and has been achieved mixed success. The Man In The High Castle started strong but faltered on its initial premise. HBO’s excellent Watchmen placed fictional superheroes within actual events to enlighten its audience.
The first season of For All Mankind was inconsistent and tied up in NASA politics, but when it was good there was nothing better. The second season reoriented after a time hop and dug deep on characters as they matured. Space exploration is no joke, and major accomplishments coupled with horrible tragedies are a natural part of the storyline. For All Mankind refuses to pull any punches. Season two was one of TV’s best series last year, culminating in a fantastic finale.
My favorite season closers are ones that feel like a series finale. These often occur when show runners aren't sure if their program is going to return for another season. They go all-in knowing that some network executive might not give the green light for more episodes. Fans hope for a return but are satisfied if things are left as is.
At the end of For All Mankind season two, more episodes seemed like nothing more than dreaming to become an astronaut. This Friday, dreams come true.
This new season is all about Mars and getting there first is once again what space exploration is all about. Set in the mid-90's, it's not just the Americans and Russians competing to get to the red planet before anyone else does. There's a new desperate entrant doing whatever it takes to be the first to plant its flag on red soil.
Another time jump adds ten more years to the lives of pioneering astronaut Ed Baldwin, astronaut turned politician Ellen Wilson, black female astronaut Danielle Poole and Margo Madison, who has rightfully risen to Director of The Johnson Space Center in Houston. Expect them all to deal with victories, tragedies and plenty of nail-biting drama in the NASA world.
As for the show's future, we've got a few more decades to go. I can't wait to see how this writing team tackles the adventures of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
Here's what else is worth watching this week…
That's My Time With David Letterman (Netflix) Thursday, June 9th
Dave just won't go away, and that's a very good thing. In his latest Netflix endeavor, a comedian does a stand-up set and then joins Dave for a quick chat. These episodes were recorded at the recent Netflix Is A Joke festival in Los Angeles.
It's clear that Dave enjoys doing things on his own terms now. Some stand-up, a quick chat, and on to the next comedian. I'm sure he misses Paul, but not all the other baggage that comes with hosting a late-night network talk show.
Dark Winds (AMC ) Sunday, June 8th 9:00 PM ET
It's 1971, and the Navajo nation has some intriguing crimes to deal with. Two Native American detectives are on the case in this adaptation of the Tony Hillerman novel that's powered by a mostly Native American cast and crew.
Robert Redford and George R.R. Martin executive produce this new series, which was shot in three different sovereign nations, written by indigenous writers and primarily directed by a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.
Evil (Paramount+) Sunday, June 8th Season 3
The creators of The Good Wife and The Good Fight are back with a third season of Evil. A priest in training, cynical female psychologist and contractor continue to explore mysteries of the Church that defy logical explanations.
This psychological thriller has toyed with science and religion since its debut. The cast is excellent with tons of recognizable faces. The writing makes you think twice about those unexplained phenomena, and I don't recommend watching this series alone at night.
Becoming Elizabeth (Starz) Sunday, June 8th 9:00 PM ET
Starz takes its shot at the crown (pun intended) in this new eight-episode miniseries chronicling the orphaned teenager who would become Queen Mother. King Henry VIII passes away and nine year-old Edward takes the throne as the scramble for power ensues resulting in the great Queen Elizabeth I.
THIS WEEK’S STIHTGT! (Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
Irma Vep (HBO) – Alicia Vikander is an American actress in Paris getting a little too close to the evil character she's playing. Monday at 9:00 PM ET.
Ms. Marvel (Disney+) – Kamala Khan is a Jersey comic book nerd who becomes the first Muslim superhero in the Marvel universe. Wednesday.
A Tribute to Bob Saget (Netflix) – John Stamos, Jeff Ross and John Mayer lead this tribute to the comedian who was much more than Danny Tanner. Friday.
75th Annual Tony Awards (CBS) – Broadway's finest are going live coast to coast for the first time ever. Sing along Sunday 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT.
GREATEST HITS (Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: Dexter (Showtime) – Dexter Morgan is a blood splatter expert for the Miami P.D. who also happens to be a serial killer operating with a code. Dex rationalizes taking out "bad people" to satisfy his compulsion. I'd stack the first four seasons up against any show from its time, and the John Lithgow season is one of the best you'll ever see. It's dark, funny, and truly compelling stuff.
Previous Picks: Alias (Hulu/Disney+) The Great (Hulu) Atypical (Netflix) Sherlock (PBS) Magic City (Peacock) Imposters (Netflix) Episodes (Showtime/Hulu) For All Mankind (Apple TV+) Abbott Elementary (ABC) Damages (Hulu) Luther (HBO Max) Downton Abbey (Netflix) Justified (Hulu) The Good Wife (Paramount+) Freaks & Geeks (Hulu) Patriot (Amazon Prime Video) Battlestar Galactica (Peacock) The Split (Amazon Prime Video) Bordertown (Netflix) Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
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