For All Mankind manages an interesting matrix of comparisons:
A little more dramatically sound than Mad Men with a comparable (but less slavish) level of period piece fidelity that outdoes Halt and Catch Fire whose characters I found a little more engaging. Toss The Right Stuff atmospherics in, but inflected with the whole alternate history thing …
I can tell spring is here, because I’m willing to engage with it. Two months ago, it was all I could do to stumble from one Vikings episode to the next.
Hot “Recent Period Pieces I Have Watched” rankings take:
- Halt and Catch Fire
- For All Mankind (provisional – haven’t even finished S1)
- Mad Men
- The Last Kingdom (its Netflixification is making it silly, but I’m giving it the 10th century nod over …)
- Vikings (… which, I’m sorry, did not manage the generational handoff, and turned Lagertha into a wax statue)
For context: 2020’s price, for me, was a near inability to sit through any sort of television program or movie. I did three hefty-for-me building projects instead. It felt better to fill my free time with learning about how to make things, and I appreciated the focusing effect of relearning how to use power saws. I wanted to keep all my fingers, so I had to think harder about less.
There was photography, too. Both in the taking: Simultaneously in the world but processing it as shapes, colors, and tones. And in the editing: Hours of going through the day or week’s haul and reconciling what the machine captured with new meaning I could feel emerging as I cycled through styles and crops.
I’m relearning how to read complex things. I feel flashes of anger I wouldn’t have allowed myself over things it was safer not to think about for a while. And I am willing to stake out the fraught ground of ranking period drama premium t.v.