Apollo: Missions To The Moon – National Geographic TV

We are coming up on the big anniversary of men walking on the moon, and there is a plethora of documentaries on the subject, but this one stands out. The producers did not shy away from the gritty setbacks (space is hard) and at least threw Wernher von Braun a bone. Not that the doc went into the details of his work, but he was given an opportunity to describe the goals so more than just a fleeting picture from afar.

While the SS Sturmbannführer is uncomfortable for some, we must consider the reality that without his contributions—i.e. the turbo pumps or F-1 engines—there would be no Mercury (Freedom 7) or Apollo moon landings for the U.S.A. 

This particular documentary spans the entire Apollo program and is full of great still pictures and some wonderful pop-culture tie-ins featuring Walt Disney and Bob Hope—e.g., “No one likes a smart as-tronaut!” In retrospect, that joke probably made for pretty daring TV even for Bob Hope in the late sixties. As far as the NASA content is concerned, I thought I’d seen and heard pretty much everything that NASA had produced, recorded, and/or filmed, which is a collection of more than 500 hours of footage, 800 hours of audio, and 10,000 photos. However, there is some fantastic, rarely-seen footage and commentary included, as well as some never broadcasted audio. 

All in all, this was a well-rounded representation of the Apollo program: patriotic with tons of American flags, yet inclusive of the rest of the world and the landings on the Moon achievement for the US of A and mankind.