This past weekend I finally finished watching the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon. I had purchased the DVD set a few years ago and started watching it but somehow got distracted. So about a month ago I started over.
It’s a great series if you love the history of space exploration, but it does have a few dramatic quirks that might make it more difficult for some folks to enjoy. Each of the twelve episodes is essentially a stand-alone story. Although there are recurring people who show up over the course of the series (like Deke Slayton, played by Nick Searcy) most of the episodes focus on a particular mission (ie. the building of the LEM or a particular Apollo mission). Because of this it makes more sense to view the series as an anthology of short films about the Apollo program rather than what we would normally think of as a miniseries.
However, even though it feels a lot like you are starting over as a viewer with each new episode, they are all compellingly written and directed with great casts. The entire series is really an extraordinary achievement.
As a companion to the series I would recommend the book Spaceflight: The Complete Story from Sputnik to Shuttle – And Beyond. It gives a great overview of space exploration before, during, and after the moon missions.
And although I haven’t read it, A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts, seems like an excellent history of the Apollo program.
Obviously the series takes its name from the famous Jules Verne novel, which if you have not read, you can get for free here on Amazon or the Project Gutenberg.
The final episode of the series has a nice series of vignettes about Georges Méliès making his famous film Trip to the Moon, inspired by Jules Verne’s novel.