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:

  1. Halt and Catch Fire
  2. For All Mankind (provisional – haven’t even finished S1)
  3. Mad Men
  4. The Last Kingdom (its Netflixification is making it silly, but I’m giving it the 10th century nod over …)
  5. 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.

Now, spring.

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.