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From the Earth to the Moon - The Signature Edition
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This 12-hour HBO miniseries created by Tom Hanks garnered 17 Emmy nominations and captivated audiences. From the early stages of the space program and Kennedy's 1961 call to reach the moon within a decade to the successes and heartbreaking failures of the race for space, the dream was kept alive by dedicated, daring professionals and a nation intent on reaching for -- and landing amid -- the stars, all while the world faced the Vietnam War.
The 2005 "Signature Edition" adds a powerful DTS track along with a remastered picture (now in widescreen). It takes many of the extra features from the original 1998 release's DVD-ROM disc and puts them onto a DVD disc including the standard making-of docs and several text segments on the solar system and timeline of space travel. This makes for easier viewing, but the new edition loses the virtual datacenter of space and NASA information that would be hard to reproduce without the ROM disc. The extra discs are mainly to hold both the DTS and 5.1 soundtracks; there are no new features. --Doug Thomas
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Top Customer Reviews
First, I grew up during the space race and Apollo era, and remember, as a small child, watching the various liftoffs, Moon walks, and splashdowns. When Apollo 13 gripped the nation with its near-disaster, my parents were watching it round-the-clock, and the splashdown was announced by our grade school principal on the loudspeaker, which resulted in cheering. So I enjoyed the period color, clothing, and technology. It astonishes me that my daughter's iPhone has more computer power than all of Apollo 11. Apollo 11 went to the Moon. We use iPhones to send each other pictures of cats that look like Hitler.
The other thing I enjoyed about this mini-series was its ability to dramatize what was essentially an engineering procedural, bring its complexity to life, put it in the context of the times and the nation, create memorable characters, and focus on various aspects of the program in a comprehensible manner. Without giving away spoilers:
The first episode explains how the space barons figured out how they would get to the Moon, with some of the more dramatic portions of that effort.
The second episode focuses on the tragedy, investigation, and recovery of the Apollo 1 disaster.
The third episode uses a faux documentary technique to explore how Apollo missions got off the launch pad.
The fourth episode shows how Apollo 8 saved a most horrific year -- 1968.
The fifth episode discusses how the most unusual spacecraft was made and tested -- the Lunar Module.
The sixth episode focuses on the ceremony, glory, history, and struggle of Apollo 11.
The seventh episode is an Astronaut's-eye-view (first person) of an Apollo mission.
The eighth episode explores how the media covered the Apollo program, and how it shifted from addressing serious issues to superficiality.
The ninth episode is about two struggles -- an astronaut to get back into space and an Apollo mission to land on the Moon.
The 10th episode focuses on how to turn test pilots -- engineers -- into capable scientists when they are on the Moon.
The 11th episode focuses on the support for the astronauts -- their wives, whose lives were far from the idyllic "super-wife" portrayed in the media.
The 12th episode, also in documentary style, compares two subjects -- early visions of journeys to the Moon with the real ones.
Hopefully this does not give away too many plot points, but it shows that there were many different angles, sides, and visions of the Apollo program, and executive producer, director, writer, and cameo star Tom Hanks did a superb job with this HBO mini-series, and it gives credit where it is due -- not just to the astronauts, but the vast numbers of support staff on the ground, that put 12 human beings (and two golf balls) on the lunar surface "for all mankind."
I am proud to have been one (out of 400,000 people) who worked on Apollo. My job was to make sure that the microwave transmitter (designed by RCA) used on the Lunar Excursion Module met the requirements of the landing radar.
On the Viking program, which successfully landed on Mars, I designed the transmitter myself. My own stuff is still sitting on Mars!
During recent debates between candidates for the GOP Presidential nomination, Mitt Romney laughed about Newt Gingrich's proposal to build a colony on the moon. I can understand the general public's loss of interest about space exploration and their concern about the cost this work. I expect someone running for President to have more perspective about the long term benefits of this effort.
DARPA and NASA are working together to deal with the practical issues involved in exploring space. A manned colony on the moon is a key part of this project.
The story about Apollo is beautiful, but the public's lack of interest in future work on the moon is sad.
Other than the aspect ratio issues, the show itself is still great, and presents a view of the portions of the space race that often get overlooked. I had read and enjoyed Andrew Chaikin's book "A Man on the Moon", and this miniseries lived up to the book that inspired it. In addition to the types of space capsule drama featured in the movie "Apollo 13" there are episodes that focus on the engineers and scientists, the astronaut's wives, the politicians, and even the Georges Méliès' 1902 movie "Le Voyage dans la Lune". The miniseries was produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Tom Hanks, the same people that made the movie "Apollo 13", so they avoid showing that mission at all by instead focusing on the news reporters that covered it.
The cast were great, and include such diverse actors as Tom Hanks, Jay Mohr, Clint Howard, Chris Isaac, Bryan Cranston, Cary Elwes, Dave Foley, Adam Baldwin, Steven Root, Kevin Pollak, Sally Field, Al Franken, John Carroll Lynch, Debra Jo Rupp, and Alan Ruck. Many of these actors are better known for their comedy rolls, but do an excellent job in this more serious work.
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