This was one of the two DVDs on the space race in my Christmas stocking. I watched this first (the other being Tom Hanks' From the Earth to the Moon) as I wanted to get the whole story presented to me before I watched the American story in more detail.
There is no doubt that where this series excels is with the Soviet side of things. Presumably this came about as a result of the BBC's co-production with (amongst others) a Russian broadcaster, and easier access to previously secret material. However, there was a huge amount to fit into only four hours with the result that a lot of the landmarks are only briefly covered, or are even skipped completely.
The series has quite a Korolev bias, which whilst not too obvious in the first episode, takes hold and becomes evident as the series progresses. Not that I necessarily think that was a bad thing; this series covers old ground as far as the American side of the space race is concerned, but I found myself somewhat awestruck by Korolev's genius and vision.
I thought that the series was far too short to cover this subject in the detail that is justified. If you are going to tell this story, then do it well, and don't hold back by trying to save money. Tom Hanks tells the American story in twelve hours, whilst the BBC tried to do the whole thing from both perspectives in just four. Why not do it like the much acclaimed 'World at War' (26 episodes), probably the definitive WW2 story?
I thought the format was rather good. It is a drama documentary, so the historical events are acted, and the story is also narrated. The BBC have done a number of such programmes, and whilst not to everybody's taste, I quite like this method of storytelling.
Overall, I am glad to own this. It didn't tell me a great deal of new information where the US side of the race is concerned, but it really brings the Soviet story to life. I grew up in the Cold War era, so can understand and remember the competetive rivalry and paranoia that existed between the USA and USSR. Younger viewers may not remember it and so it may seem quite bizarre. If so, then I think that would make the series all the more compelling. Whilst it may be inaccurate in a few areas (as other reviewers have observed), this didn't detract for me, and I generally enjoyed watching it.