To Boldly Go

To Boldly Go
Sam's Tavern, Capitol Hill, Seattle.

I finished the third season of For All Mankind. It wasn't easy. The writing, dialogue, and acting were pretty bad in spots. But I like stories about space, what-ifs, science, and problem-solving. For All Mankind has plenty of that.

I didn't know anything about the show going in. Not a spoiler, really - you find out quickly that this is an alternate timeline. I can't remember when I learned that Ronald D. Moore was one of the creators. That explained a lot. If you've watched Moore's Battlestar Galactica, the characters, their interactions, and the misdirectional transitions will be familiar. Earlier I said I thought a lot of that was bad, but that might not be fair. I think it's his style, and it harkens back to the original Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek. George Lucas wrote awful dialogue (still a creative genius); Moore might be very deliberate about the genre or style he's looking for.

If you liked The Martian and The Right Stuff, you'll probably like For All Mankind. And if you like alternate timelines or histories, you'll really like it. The writers came up with some very creative historical changes. For example, I almost didn't pick up on Senator Jimmy Carter. The writers also make great use of Oval Office recordings and newscasters who closely resemble Barbara Walters, Bernard Shaw, and others. Great use of music, too.

I'll stop here on For All Mankind. I'm glad I watched it. Gets you thinking about ideas, the stars, the absurdity of Cold War paranoia. I have another bias. One of my grandfathers worked on the Apollo missions. My other grandfather served in WWII and Korea. Apollo and Korea figure prominently in the show. (Mom and dad, you should watch.)

Oh, wait, one more complaint, and it's a big one. The show champions the idea of colonization and expansion without questioning the impact*. People are driven to explore, to wonder what's over that next hill. It's in our nature. It often goes poorly for the people found. One of the bases is named...well, this would be a spoiler. Europeans, or anyone with boats, traveling to the Americas was probably an inevitability. I would have appreciated some more nuanced discussions about we can do this, but should we. But back to what I said about Moore earlier - that unbridled enthusiam may have been very intentional. *Hey viewer, you can question these things without us telling you to question these things.

I like fish sandwiches, and I like fish tacos. Bait Shop in Seattle does a fantastic fish sandwich. Why am I mentioning this? Because I'm too lazy to get the ingredients for this New York Times fish sandwich recipe that seems like a slice of heaven. It's a recipe from Sue Li, and it looks easy and delicious. I'm going to risk including their photo by Christopher Simpson and Simon Andrews.

A wonderful photo of a fried fish sandwich by Christopher Simpson and Simon Andrews.
Fish sandwich, recipe in The New York Times by Sue Li, photo by Christopher Simpson, styling by Simon Andrews. 

All roads lead to California and/or Depression.

I thought I'd cancel HBO for a while after The Last of Us finale. But those schedulers, it's not their first rodeo. Season 2 of Perry Mason started kicking in, and I like it. Depression era Los Angeles, beautiful sets and fashion, solid acting and dialogue. 1930s Los Angeles. Beaux-Arts (breaking a rule of blogging - never just throw out a random guess on anything, maybe it's Gothic) buildings, glamorous hotels swimming in booze during Prohibition, ranch house neighborhoods, dusty villages, and racial tensions. Great show, fantastic writing. The writers try to convey the challenges that minorities and gays faced then, and I think it's sincere, but I suspect the challenges were much worse. It also has a bit of that we have to get the lesbian couple naked. (Juliet Rylance's Della Street is my favorite character in the show.)

Selfie. Capitol Hill, Seattle, March 2023.