In between streaming the first 8 episodes of Wish Me Luck, I have been renting the 5-disc set of Tom Hanks’ epic series From the Earth to the Moon. The series came out in 1998, and I honestly cannot remember why I never saw it before. I will say that, as someone who was alive on July 20, 1969, it is a series I have always wanted to watch, but I somehow never got around to it. Well, as they say, better late than never.
From the Earth to the Moon is a 5-disc set with 12 episodes plus a disc with bonus features, including a “making-of” featuring many of the actors and crew from the series. It is, in a word, outstanding. Some of the cast members are familiar (Tom Hanks, Peter Scolari, Tim Daly and Elizabeth Perkins, to name but a few), but the majority are people I have either never seen before or who are not instantly recognizable. And that’s OK. In fact, I really like it when movies based on real events have actors I don’t know because the actor’s persona doesn’t get in the way of the character he or she is playing. I know this isn’t always possible to do, but I do appreciate it.
The stories aren’t always told in a linear fashion. For example, one of the later episodes deals solely with the wives of the astronauts, and the episode shows us their perspective on events that have already been covered in other episodes. So we see the Apollo 1 tragedy twice — once from the perspective from NASA and its employees, and then we see it again from the perspective of Marilyn Lovell, who was with Gus Grissom’s wife when she learned that her husband had died in the fire. Another episode focuses on the lessons in geology that the astronauts received later on in the Apollo program. One episode is entirely from Alan Bean’s (Apollo 12) perspective. It sounds rather hodge-podge, but it really works.
The bonus disc is also worth watching. We get to see some of the real astronauts interacting with the men who played them. We get to see how they recreated the scenes on the Moon. This was a well-made, compelling series, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.