For All Mankind: Season One (Blu-ray)

In an alternative version of 1969, the Soviet Union beats the United States to the Moon, and the space race continues on for decades with still grander challenges and goals.

November 15, 2023 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Having been born just a few years after we landed on the moon (and, yes, we did so any/all conspiracy theorists – give it a rest), I don’t, and likely never will, understand how important the space race was. The fact that an American was the first man on the moon is certainly one of the most, if not the most, important thing we’ve done as a country. But what if that had. never happened? This is the question begged by the show and creator Ronald D. Moore (best-known for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation) along with Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi have scripted a series set in an alternate universe where the Russians were the first to walk on the moon. If you’ve ever seen The Man in the High Castle, this is essentially the same concept – only applied to the space race. Intrigued? I was. Instantly.

We begin in 1969 (obviously) where a Soviet cosmonaut, Alexi Leono, has made history as the first person to walk on the Moon. The United States (more to the point, NASA) is shell shocked and under the direction of Wernher Von Braun (Colm Feore), they make a point to step up their game and meet and exceed the Soviets’ accomplishments. Additionally, having been beaten to the punch, this prompts a shift in the way they think by going outside the box to include women and minorities. Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman), the main protagonist has his eyes set on landing after getting himself and NASA into some hot water. There are some additional subplots as well like the Vietnam War, President Nixon wanting to build a military base on the Moon and Deke Slayton’s efforts to enlist female astronauts.

Looking at this from afar, it’s kind of hard not to cringe with such “drastic measures” taken to get the United States to the Moon. The fact that they’re willing to resort to women and minorities is somewhat laughable now, though back in the late 60’s, this simply wasn’t the case. I’ve always been somewhat fascinated with movies and television shows that dealt with this particular segment in time. Films like The Right Stuff, Hidden Figures or Apollo 13 have gotten repeat viewings from me. The fact that, as of this writing, there are 40 episodes out there just waiting to be watched gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

Video: How’s it look?

Set in the late 60’s, sometimes these can look dull and monotone and others look like a painting come to life. For all Mankind is one of the latter and my oho my does it look good! Sony does a great job with their Blu-ray titles and this 2.00:1 AVC HD image simply leaps off the screen. The interiors of a NASA building could look cold and corporate, but instead they bustle with color and it makes for a pleasing picture. Contrast and black levels are right on the money, detail (as expected) is sharp as a tack. There are plenty of shots of the control room, outdoors and interior sequences that all look divine. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Sony puts out some of the best-looking Blu-ray’s (as they should, since they invented the format).

Audio: How’s it sound?

Granted, this DTS HD Master Audio mix isn’t one that’ll blow the roof off the place, rather it’s a nice, well-rounded track that’s sure to please. And, as we might expect with an ensemble cast, vocals are clear, pure and rich. Surrounds are used with good impact as well, though the front stage really does handle the majority of the audio. It’s a great-sounding track that makes use of dynamic audio and space (pardon the pun), but it’s low key enough that you won’t need to constantly fiddle with the volume. No complaints here.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This Blu-ray set contains no supplemental material.

The Bottom Line

For All Mankind is one of those titles that I’d heard of but never made myself sit down and watch. That’s changed with this set as I see there are a few more seasons out there that are ripe for the picking. If the “space race” or alternate timeline realities are your thing (or, better yet, both) then this one is for you. I, for one, found it pretty intriguing. Sony’s disc looks and sounds good, though the lack of any supplements makes it a hard sale.

Disc Scores