‘For All Mankind’: Ronald D. Moore Aims For ‘Positive’ Space Race Alt-History for Apple TV+

It's another indication that Apple TV+ is going to focus on programming that can be labeled "family-friendly."

Ronald D. Moore wants his upcoming “For All Mankind” television series to go where most alt-history stories don’t dare to venture: In a direction that won’t relentlessly depress viewers.

Alt-history and historical drama television shows have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Take Prime Video’s smash hit “The Man in the High Castle,” which presents a dystopia where the Axis powers prevailed during World War II. And then there was the 2017 British “SS-GB” miniseries, which featured a similarly depressing premise where Nazi Germany successfully invading and occupying the United Kingdom in 1941.

Not “For All Mankind,” which will launch on Apple’s upcoming Apple TV+ streaming service in the fall. Moore shared new details about the 10-episode series, which will star Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten, Wrenn Schmidt, and Jodi Balfour, during a Friday press conference.

“Alt-history tends to go dark and dystopian,” Moore said. “Ours is going in an opposite direction, a positive one. By expanding the space race, the world and nation became a better place.”

According to a report two years ago in Bloomberg, Apple TV+ is aiming to create family-friendly shows for its new service, investing its billions of dollars in programming that will engage and entertain the broadest platform of viewers as possible around the world. An alt-history space race show that doesn’t involve systemic oppression normal to the genre certainly fits the bill.

The show will take place in an alternate timeline where the USSR beat the United States to the moon and follow how the continuing space race impacts the lives of NASA astronauts and their families. Although budget details and a specific release date are still under wraps, Moore (“Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Battlestar Galactica”) noted that each episode will be around an hour and said his team hopes to work on a second season of the series.

For All Mankind
For All MankindPhoto Courtesy of Apple

Moore said growing up during the Apollo program’s heyday served as his catalyst for getting into science fiction. Unfortunately, space travel never progressed as far as people such as Moore hoped it would. That fact served as Moore’s inspiration for creating “For All Mankind,” which will champion a spacefaring culture that never quite became a reality in the real world.

Although NASA lent their support to the show, canny eyes will notice that the organization’s emblem in the show differs from the NASA logo in real life. Moore said NASA policy is to not to allow its official emblem to be used on anything that is not historically accurate.

Although “For All Mankind” will significantly diverge from the true history of space travel—Moore said moon bases eventually work their way into the plot—having some degree of historical accuracy is still important for any alt-history show. The show might be about the staggering complexity of space travel, but Moore said one of the trickiest things about filming “For All Mankind” turned out to be trying to find a simple television set. It turns out that the big, bulky CRT televisions that were commonplace back in the ‘70s aren’t so popular nowadays.

“It’s hard to find CRTs now; the tube has vanished,” Moore said. “This is a world where everyone has a TV set in their living room, so we had to cheat a lot of them, such as having a flatscreen on a set and putting curved glass over it to simulate the look of a CRT. It was madness, not being able to find TV screens, of all things.”

Like “For All Mankind,” Apple TV+ is expected to launch sometime in the fall. To see a teaser for the show, watch below:

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