From the Earth to the Moon (1998)
Character Name: Dave Scott
Tom Hanks’ “From the Earth to the Moon” is a 12-hour miniseries that chronicles the birth of the country’s space program and the astounding achievement of landing men on the moon — and bringing them home safely.
Brett Cullen stars as astronaut Dave Scott, who flew first in Gemini 8, then again in Apollo 9 and was later commander of Apollo 15. Brett appears briefly in Episode 1: “Can We Do This?” comes back in Episode 5: “Spider,” and then has the starring role in Episode 10: “Galileo Was Right.”
Episode 10 begins with a voiceover by Brett as Dave Scott and Jim Irwin explore the lunar surface during the Apollo 15 exploration of Hadley Appenine. They describe the surface to Mission Control in Houston and within minutes hit paydirt. Brett’s voice grows with excitement…”Oh boy…guess what we just found…guess what we just found!” The awe in his voice dissolves into the story of how he and the astronauts were trained to understand the significance of what he was holding in his hand…anorthosite. Part of the moon’s primordial crust.
The story continues as Lee Silver, a professor of geology, takes the astronauts out of the classroom and into the real world to prepare for their lunar exploration. The astronauts are initially reluctant and treat the field trips like a joke. But after a few excursions into the Orocopia and San Juan Mountains in Colorado and Buell Park, Arizona, the astronauts begin to mirror the professor’s enthusiasm and start actually competing for rock samples. They learn that being an astronaut is not just about being a good pilot. The world wanted to know how old the moon was and how it was formed, and the challenge fell into the hands of Apollo 15. Silver was convinced the answer was attainable. “It would be a shame if it was up there and we missed it,” he told them.
During a meeting that was held to determine the landing place of the mission, Brett Cullen’s Dave Scott captivated the NASA executives with his assessment of the choices. Would they land in a relatively easy area or attempt a more risky landing in the mountainous Hadley Appenines?
Dave Scott wanted the more risky landing, because of what could be gained. “The Appenines have something else,” he said. “Grandeur. I believe there’s something to be said for exploring beautiful places — it’s good for the spirit.”
Dave Scott’s vote decided it. Apollo 15 was headed for the Hadley Appenines.
After safely landing the LEM on the moon, Dave Scott and Jim Irwin surveyed the Appenines from the Rover and described the landscape to Mission Control. Everything Professor Silver had taught them was being used. Silver sat in Mission Control for much of the mission, drawing on maps of the moon’s surface and sketching. When Dave Scott’s awe-filled voice crackled over the radio, “I think we found what we came for. I think we found ourselves some anorthosite.” Professor Silver’s face was a symphony of relief, wonder and accomplishment.
After the tired astronauts left the moon and prepared for their return flight, Dave Scott spoke directly to Silver over the radio. “Professor, I hope one day we can get you up here, too.” Silver responded, “That would be an amazing adventure, but I feel like I’ve already been there, thanks to you.”
Indeed, thanks to a fine cast led by Brett Cullen, viewers will also feel as if they were on that exploration with Apollo 15. Cullen is magnificent as Dave Scott. Cullen’s performance of exuberance and awe hammers home the significance of the mission — Dave Scott did what few men before or after him have done — he brought home a key to the universe — what was later dubbed the “Genesis Rock.” And thanks to the talent of Brett Cullen and the rest of the cast, we were invited along for the ride.