For All Mankind: Hi Bob
November 29, 2019 4:26 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Ed, Gordo and Danielle struggle with an extended Jamestown mission.

A science fiction writer I know was invited once back to contribute some scripts for a proposed TV series (I think it was Space Island One). He told me that the writers had been told to keep it ‘realistic’ and promptly ran into the problem of most of the proposed scripts being variants on ‘crew get cabin fever in space’ because in the absence of aliens that’s where you tend to go for drama. Indeed, the short-lived BBC attempt from 1973 at a realistic near-future space drama, Moonbase 3, had only six episodes but at least two centred on astronauts having nervous breakdowns.

I again suspect that the writers are looking to Soviet space history for inspiration. At least two long-duration Salyut missions were cut short for reasons rumoured to be in part psychological, whilst other cosmonauts reported on the stress of being confined on a relatively small space station for months with only one or two crewmembers. Anatoli Berezovoy and Valentin Lebedev apparently spent much of their six-month mission on Saylut 7 barely speaking to one another, whilst Valery Ryumin apparently noted in his diary – supposedly paraphrasing O Henry – that all the necessary conditions for murder were met by locking two men in a small cabin for two months.

NASA’s own real-life history includes Skylab 4, a three-month mission (the longest flown by the US to that point) where the crew, ground down by an endless, heavy schedule of work imposed on them by Mission Control, eventually had to have a frank discussion with Houston leading to a more realistic schedule (although the story that they actually went on strike for a day seem to be exaggerated.)

Trauma The Young People Of Today Just Won’t Understand: trying to fix a VCR that’s eaten a tape. But was there really a problem with providing copies of TV shows? Surely this was being done for deployed military personnel by the 1970s in any event.

Did They Think About The Optics Of This? OK, I’m a middle-aged male white Brit, and even I raised my eyebrows a bit at the story line of ‘Black woman contrives to injure herself to protect the career of her jerkass white crewmate.’

Saw That Coming A Mile Off: Shane Baldwin getting killed or badly hurt (I guess we’ll find out which next week). Presumably this may lead to the dilemma of whether Houston inform Ed Baldwin. Again, I recall hearing about a long-duration Soviet mission where one cosmonaut’s father died during the flight and Moscow decided not to tell him until he returned to Earth.

Apparent Goof: It was established by some info-dumping last episode that Apollo 22’s CSM remains in lunar orbit and we see the LM near Jamestown base. The amended plan is for Gordo and Danielle to fly back leaving Ed at Jamestown. Two issues here:

(1) Unless Apollo 24 drops a crew member, there isn’t going to be space for Ed to get back. Also, he’s now going to be stuck on the Moon for the duration of that mission unless a further relief flight is added.

(2) We see the LM having docked with the CSM and a farewell in lunar orbit. But only the LM ascent stage should be docked, and it couldn’t land again. That whole scene doesn’t make sense: Ed would have waved Gordo and Danielle off from the lunar surface rather than flying up to orbit with them and coming back, which he had no means to do.
posted by Major Clanger (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Yeah, both of those bugged me. I suppose #1 could be answered by Ed getting stuffed into the sample return bin for the lunar rendezvous after 24s lunar stay (and sleeping on the floor at Jamestown?), but that still doesn’t give him a couch for earth reentry.

And yeah, #2 is pretty grievous, unless if they’re splitting ice for cryogenic fuels, maybe?
posted by Kyol at 3:10 PM on November 29


Re: Optics, I mean, not the greatest look with 2019 eyes, sure, but I feel like it worked within the show's logic and historically? But I get it.

This felt like legit good television for me. Gordo's breakdown was done really well, kudos to Michael Dorman, truly.

#2 baffled me as well.
posted by KTamas at 3:19 PM on November 29


Oh, I had a simple solution come to mind: send up 24 with a seat empty. Duh.
posted by Kyol at 4:00 PM on November 29


Everything about that scene where Ed sees off his crew was jarring. I've got no good sense of how that scene should look, but... ? Why is he up there? How did he get down? Was the csm supposed to just be floating, or was that altitude plausible for orbit?
I have no answers, and will forget it all by the next time I see the show.

Injuring yourself so that your colleague who is unfit to fly can go on to put other lives in danger is stupid, but unfortunately believable.

I really hope that jerk kid is okay. I'm pretty sure that learning how to dad is the major arc for Ed. If not, it might be something much less pleasant to watch.
posted by Acari at 7:17 AM on November 30


This was a really good ep in terms of human drama, one of the first that didn’t depend purely on launch excitement or shit blowing up. Also confused on why Ed had to go into orbit though.
posted by adrianhon at 10:48 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]


The arc may be the kid learning how to adult as an astronaut after having Ed as a father. Hollywood loathed VCR's and it was not until 1984 that the U.S. Supreme Court said that using video recorders wasn't copyright infringement. Film night for military personnel was actual film and a projector. Video scared Hollywood spitless.

I kind of assumed that either Jamestown has a fuel processing system or the supply rockets had been bring up extra fuel just in case. Then again if it was just an artistic license I feel OK giving it to them.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 4:46 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


Oh and I was mildly disappointed with how the Waverly/Wilson story resolved itself, but it's certainly true to the time so it's probably unrealistic for them to put their feet down and stand up to the system.
posted by Kyol at 1:27 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


I bumped on (2) from the original post as well - was really surprised to see all three astronauts in orbit. But looking closely at the lander in the VFX shot of the CSM and lander in orbit - that's a different vehicle than the LM we know. It appears to have four engines. Seems a stretch for 1974 but perhaps a reusable vehicle......
posted by bowline at 2:59 PM on December 1


To be a lifeboat the LM would have to be reusable at least once. I’d assume they were the second or third crew, there might be more than one lifeboat system set up; like they rotate in using them. And it might be their way home. Lifeboat protocol might be just using it when there is no proper relief.
posted by tilde at 3:24 PM on December 1


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