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Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Tim Daly

The 12 episodes follow the Apollo space program from a variety of perspectives.

Rated TV-14

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English Dolby Atmos
Spanish DTS 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 662 min.
Price: $27.99
Release Date: 7/16/19

• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• “Inside the Remastering Process” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer.


From the Earth to the Moon [Blu-Ray] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 21, 2019)

Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of NASA’s momentous Moon landing, 1998’s From the Earth to the Moon offers a 12-episode HBO mini-series that examines the Apollo missions. The plot synopses come from IMDB.

Can We Do This?: “The United States launches an aggressive plan to beat the Soviets to the moon.”

As the opening episode, “Can” needs to do a lot of heavy lifting, as it introduces a slew of characters and situations. It achieves this but it seems less coherent than I’d like.

I expect future episodes to feel more stable simply because they’ll need to cover less territory. Still, I can’t help but think that “Can” should’ve been a smoother ride, one that better connected its circumstances and roles.

Apollo One: “NASA prepares for the Apollo 1 mission and then investigates the cause of the mission's tragic cabin fire.”

After the wide scope of “Can”, “One” goes down a much tighter path, and it works better to due to this more limited focus. It leans toward TV movie melodrama more often than I’d like, but it still becomes a good exploration of the subject matter.

We Have Cleared the Tower: “With a documentary film crew watching their every step NASA prepares for the Apollo 7 mission.”

“Tower” mainly opts for a documentary framework, as much of it shows a camera crew that follows the astronauts. Oddly, it flits between that structure and a standard setup, a choice that doesn’t really work. It’s still a decent episode, but the erratic orientation makes it less effective.

1968: “During the turbulent year of 1968 Susan Borman (Rita Wilson) looks with dread on her husband's (David Andrews) impending mission to orbit the moon.”

This episode uses the tumultuous events of 1968 as backdrop, but not with especially compelling results. The two sides don’t mesh well, and the alternating use of color and black and white feels contrived. Our glimpses of the year-ending Apollo 8 mission give us satisfaction, but otherwise, this feels like a spotty show.

Spider: “The evolution of the lunar module at Grumman Aircraft Engineering.”

Although the first four episodes went on a chronological path, “Spider” dips into the past – meaning pre-1968 – to follow its technological theme. This works well, as the look at the nerds gives us a new perspective on the space program and becomes a fun exploration.

Mare Tranquilitatis: “Buzz Aldrin (Bryan Cranston), Neil Armstrong (Tim Daly), and Michael Collins (Cary Elwes) prepare for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.”

Back to the chronological approach, and the most notable mission in the series. Given the series’ title, one might’ve expected it to end with Apollo 11, so it’s intriguing to see that endeavor only halfway through the run.

That makes me curious to see when Moon will go, and “Mare” offers a good perspective on events. We know more about Apollo 11 than any of the other missions, but “Mare” still finds an intriguing take.

That’s All There Is: “On the Apollo 12 mission rookie astronaut Alan Bean (David Foley) becomes the fourth person to walk on the moon.”

After the somber A11 crew, we see the A12 astronauts as wacky jokesters – probably a little too much, really. They may’ve been a looser group than others, but “All” tends to make them seem like buffoons too much of the time. It’s a fun show despite the overly comedic POV.

We Interrupt This Program: “The Apollo 13 mission as seen through the reporting of two newscasters, highlighting the changing character of news coverage.”

Given the hit 1995 movie, it makes sense that “Program” approaches the mission from a non-NASA POV. Its contrast between old and new reporters feels a little trite, but I still mostly like this creative view of A13.

For Miles and Miles: “Ten years after becoming the first American in space Alan Shepard (Ted Levine) battles back from health problems to command the Apollo 14 mission.”

While we’ve gotten glimpses of Shepard in prior shows, he plays a much bigger part here, and that side of “Miles” adds depth to the series. Though it can go a little melodramatic at times, “Miles” mostly offers a good investigation of its subject.

Galileo Was Right: “The Apollo 15 astronauts and backup crew go through extensive geology training in preparation for their mission.”

On one hand, the emphasis on scientific areas gives “Right” a different spin and focus. On the other hand, it can feel like a glorified episode of Bill Nye at times. These make it a decent show that can be a little too much like a science lecture.

The Original Wives Club: “The lives of the astronaut wives during their NASA years and beyond - through speaking engagements and fashion shows, alcoholism and divorce.”

I like the approach to the wives, and at times, “Club” works. However, it tends to be too scattershot and on the nose, such as a shot of a lit match right before the fire that kills the Apollo 1 crew. While generally enjoyable, “Club” lacks focus.

Le voyage dans la lune: “The last manned Apollo mission to the moon is juxtaposed with Georges Méliès' (Tcheky Karyo) filming of A Trip to the Moon.”

The series concludes with the end of the moon landings, and the connection to Méliès efforts offers a semi-interesting twist. However, the episode works best when it focuses on the conclusion of the missions, as the Méliès material feels contrived.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

From the Earth to the Moon appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. Because Moon ran in 1998, it originally appeared via the then-standard 1.33:1 ratio, so the Blu-rays represented an altered aspect ratio.

For the most part, framing seemed fine, and the image occasionally opened up to show additional information at the sides. This occurred mainly during visual effects shots that were newly-done for the high-def version.

Live-action footage also felt adequately framed most of the time, but exceptions occurred. In particular, some close-ups felt awfully tight. Honestly, I don’t like revised aspect ratios and wish Moon stayed 1.33:1, but I can’t object too strongly to the actual reframing on display.

Picture quality turned into a complex issue as well, for the visuals varied due to a number of factors. Most of Moon was shot on 35mm cameras, but some other formats got usage as well, so those elements looked rougher.

Also, while most of the live-action footage got rescanned from the 35mm source, some were “up-rezzed” from the original “finished on video” product. Add to that the mix of new and old visual effects to find a real mix of quality throughout the series.

This meant Moon varied from terrific visuals to ugly images in the blink of an eye. Nonetheless, most of the shows looked very good, so I don’t want to overstate the impact of the less appealing shots.

But I don’t want to lead the potential viewer to think the whole mini-series will look hunky dory, either. In term of sharpness, expect probably 75 percent of the project to look reasonably tight and accurate, with the other 25 percent in varying degrees of softness.

This became the case with jagged edges and shimmering as well. The majority of Moon lacked those concerns, but the up-rezzed shots and old visual effects could suffer from them.

Digital noise and some grain cropped up at times, but source flaws remained minimal. Really, outside of archival footage, I don’t recall any prominent instances of specks, marks or other issues.

Like everything else, colors seemed inconsistent. The mini-series tended to favor a fairly subdued palette, and the hues looked fine for the most part, if not particularly bold. The source led to inevitable degradation at times, though, so expect some shots to suffer from drab tones.

Blacks were mostly deep and dense, while shadows came across with fairly good clarity. Exceptions occurred, of course, but in general, those elements satisfied.

In general, the whole mini-series satisfied, as I really did feel please with most of the presentation. The mix of nagging problems impacted my overall score, though, and left this as a “B-“.

Less equivocal pleasures came from the pretty appealing Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Moon. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the mix added to the series in a satisfying manner.

Unsurprisingly, more action-oriented scenes fared best, as those that dealt with spacecraft brought involvement to the proceedings. These used the various channels in an active, engrossing manner that contributed to the impact.

Otherwise, the mix tended to be somewhat subdued. Music showed good separation and the track boasted a nice sense of environment, but only the spacecraft and other test vehicle shots really worked well.

Audio quality seemed positive, with speech that appeared natural and concise. The series’ score sounded a bit rinky-dink, but that’s the result of the source, as the synthesizer music never boasted great range.

Effects worked best, with fairly clean highs and some deep lows. I didn’t think the Atmos track rivaled modern productions, but for a reworking of 20-plus-year-old material, it seemed well-done.

Two featurettes appear here, and Behind the Scenes runs 29 minutes, 34 seconds. It brings comments from Walter Cronkite, executive producer/actor Tom Hanks, directors Jon Turteltaub, David Frankel and Lili Fini Zanuck, technical consultant Dave Scott, author Andrew Chaikin, producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, Apollo pad leader Guenter Wendt, production designer Richard Toyon, 2nd unit director Michael Grossman, director of photography Gale Tattersall, and actors Cary Elwes, Bryan Cranston, Tony Goldwyn, Elizabeth Perkins, Peter Horton, Dave Foley, Rita Wilson, Tim Daly, Ted Levine, Nick Searcy, Paul McCrane, Mark Harmon, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Frederic Lane, and Chris Isaak.

“Behind” looks at research and realism, story and characters, replicating elements, and some production notes. We get a decent mix of insights, but “Behind” remains relentlessly promotional, so it lacks the depth I’d expect of a moderately long program.

Inside the Remastering Process lasts 11 minutes, nine seconds and offers notes from HBO Studio and Production Services SVP Steve Beres, HBO Post Production SVP Gena Desclos, HBO Technology Producer Rodrigo Ibanez, colorist Jonathan Reid, HBO Manager of Post Production Sounds Glen Schricker and Anibrain Executive Producer Mark DeSouza.

As expected, they tell us about the work that went into bringing the late 1990s mini-series up to snuff for Blu-ray circa 2019. Though some of this seems self-serving, we get some useful technical notes.

As a look at the American space program, From the Earth to the Moon proves to be entertaining but erratic. While I mostly enjoyed the series, it could’ve been more consistent. The Blu-rays offer largely positive picture with very good audio and minor bonus materials. Although I don’t love Moon, it still seems interesting enough to warrant a look.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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