Neil Armstrong. Buzz Aldrin. Virgil “Gus” Grissom. Every American knows their names. Their names are taught from childhood up through adulthood. That is because of their accomplishments during their time as astronauts with NASA. They are just a few of the names that put the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on the map over the course of its now nearly sixty years in operation. For all of the history that has been taught about NASA and its famed astronauts through the years, one part of NASA’s history that hasn’t been so widely taught at any level is its very roots. Thanks to PBS, though audiences recently received a healthy introduction to NASA’s roots in a new episode of its series American Experience titled Space Men. This new episode of American Experience delves into NASA’s earliest roots, explaining the men and the tests that helped form the foundation of today’s space exploration efforts. It will be available next Tuesday, April 19th on DVD. For those that were not lucky enough to catch it in its initial broadcast on their local PBS stations, there is plenty to appreciate about this episode of American Experience beginning with its story. The story, as already noted, focuses not so much on NASA’s more commonly discussed era but its earliest roots. This will be discussed shortly. As with so many other PBS presentations the interviews, pictures, and footage that are used to advance the story and better illustrate it add even more to its presentation. This will be discussed later. Last but hardly least of note is the program’s pacing and overall organization. The two elements work in partnership with one another. Together with the program’s central story and its overall content, each of the elements combine with one another to make American Experience: Space Men mandatory viewing for history buffs and space history buffs alike whether in the home or in the classroom.
American Experience: Space Men is mandatory viewing for history buffs and more specifically space history buffs alike. This applies just as much in a home setting as in a classroom setting. The main reason for this is the program’s story. Rather than present the all too commonly discussed topic of the “Space Race” this program instead focuses on NASA’s earliest roots. Ironically though, it is noted early in the program’s roughly hour-long run time that even in NASA’s infancy it was in fact engaged in a space race of sorts with the Russians. However in that time the race in question was quite different as it was just to see who could get a balloon higher into the stratosphere. That is just one of the interesting tidbits that are revealed about NASA’s early life in this program. Audiences also learn that if not for the concerted efforts of certain parties, America’s efforts to reach space might not have progressed beyond that original record setting balloon journey. That is because more than once, government officials though that what would go on to be called the “Man High Project” wasn’t worth the funding. That’s not all that audiences learn about. They learn about the men that made everything happen, beginning with the man called “The fastest man on earth”–thanks to the tests that he underwent–Dr. John P. Stapp. His dedication to keeping America’s earliest astronauts safe was truly laudable, as audiences will learn in watching this story. There are also profiles of Joseph Kittinger, Davis Simons, and Clifton McClure, the men that piloted the aptly titled Man High Project in each of its flights. This and s much more is presented in American Experience: Space Men’s central story. Altogether it is more than enough reason for history buffs and space history buffs alike to watch this new episode of PBS’ history-based series. It’s just one part of the program that makes it well worth the watch, too. The interviews, pictures, and vintage footage that are incorporated into the program add to its presentation.
The story at the center of American Experience: Space Men is in itself plenty of reason for history buffs and space history specialists alike to check out this program. It’s just one part of what makes the documentary worth the watch. The combined interviews, pictures, and footage that are incorporated into the episode are just as important to it as its story. The interviews are so important to the episode because they help tell the story both from a third person perspective at times and at others from a first hand perspective. In other words it is told collectively and wholly from the point of people who are very knowledgeable about the story and whose passion for the story is just as obvious. The footage of the Man High project and the projects that preceded them will take viewers right back to those early days of NASA’s attempts to reach space. The pictures that work alongside that footage add even more interest to the story and help to advance it even more. Both of those elements, when set against the program’s interviews, will keep viewers just as engaged and entertained as the movie’s story being that they tell the program’s story. Keeping all of this in mind, the story and its overall content are not the only important and notable of the program’s elements. Its collective pacing and organization are just as important as its story and associated content.
There is plenty to say to the positive about American Experience: Space Men as has already been noted in the discussions about the program’s story and its overall content. As important as both elements are to the whole of the program they are not the episode’s only important, notable elements. The program’s collective pacing and organization are just as important to the episode’s presentation as its story and associated material. Being that it has so much ground to cover its pacing is relatively solid from beginning to end. Audiences will agree in watching through the program it never short-changes viewers at any point or even spends too much time on one subject or another. Each moment in the story receives just enough attention to the end that audiences will never feel lost or bored. In the same vein the program’s organization will keep viewers just as engaged. The whole thing starts at the story’s end in order to set it all up. From there, it rewinds back to the story’s beginning and sets the stage for the achievements to come. Again through it all, no one moment receives too much or too little time. The end result is a roughly hour-long program that is loaded with little known history and that in turn is certain to introduce many audiences to a whole new part of NASA’s history. That is especially the case when the program’s pacing and organization are set against the episode’s story and its associated content. All things considered American Experience: Space Men proves in the end to be a presentation that, once again, proves to be well worth the watch among history buffs and space history specialists. It is yet more proof of why PBS remains today the last remaining bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.
American Experience: Space Men is another edition of PBS’ history-based series that is well worth the watch by its specific audience and history buffs in general. This is thanks in part to the episode’s story. It tells a part of NASA’s story that is rare (if ever) taught at any level of education and even known by audiences. To that end it will keep audiences engaged and entertained. The program’s content is just as certain to keep viewers engaged. The program’s combined pacing and organization rounds out its most notable elements. All things considered these elements work together to make American Experience: Space Men a program that reaches its own *ahem* heights for history buffs and space history specialists alike. It will be available next Tuesday, April 19th and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=89071786&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+experience+space+men&origkw=american+experience+space+men&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:
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