I love a good miniseries. Instead of needlessly dragging out a story for mind-numbing seasons, a miniseries gives you a complete and thoroughly satisfying story if it’s crafted properly. Chernobyl is one of those creations, and it makes for truly remarkable television.
HBO’s historical drama chronicles the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, and it’s absolutely harrowing in its depiction of the crisis. This is a show that hits the ground running right from the first frame, and grabs hold of you through its raw exploration of the disaster and its impact on thousands of people. A warning: this show is relentlessly gruesome. There are lot of disgusting, gory visuals and although they are necessary to convey the effects of the radiation, they are genuinely hard to watch.
The show’s cast is unbelievably impressive. Mad Men‘s Jared Harris delivers an astounding performance as Valery Legasov, the scientist brought in to handle the disaster, while his counterpart Boris Scherbina is immaculately realized by Stellan Skarsgard. Their dynamic is a true highlight of the show, and it’s captivating to watch it evolve through the disaster. Also brilliant is Emily Watson’s turn as Ulana Khmyuk, a resourceful nuclear physicist from Minsk hellbent on uncovering the truth. The trio makes quite a team and it’s a hell of a ride watching them navigate the complicated nature of the USSR in times of crisis.
If I had any complaints about the show, it would be the lack of authenticity with regards to everybody in the cast speaking English. I would have much preferred if the characters were speaking Russian, because seeing everyone speak perfect English often robbed the show of its accuracy.
First-rate production values and pristine performances make for a riveting series about one of the most terrifying catastrophes of our time. It’s bleak and depressing, but it’s also a must-watch.