Chernobyl

10/10 In the years of officially reviewing films and TV shows, I have given out a few 10/10 to some select films and although I have come close, no TV show had been bestowed my highest honor…until now. HBO’s “Chernobyl” is a five-episode miniseries that premiered in May of 2019, following the atrocious final season of “Game of Thrones”. When people talk about “peak TV”, this can forever be an example of what that truly means. Not only does “Chernobyl” stand on its own as one of the best miniseries I have ever seen, but it takes on a new light only a year later due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. Before I get into the Coronavirus comparisons, let’s break down why this series works. Every aspect that a show can be judged upon such as the acting, direction, writing, pacing, cinematography, casting, score, make-up & hairstyling, special effects, etc. are about as close to flawless as one can get. Much like the incredible first season of HBO’s “True Detective”, “Chernobyl” has one singular writer and one singular director making every episode. Writer Craig Mazin and director Johan Renck are able to create one singular vision and both the writing and direction on display here are phenomenal. Mazin’s scripts are fleshed out, emotional, informative without devolving into clunky exposition and well-paced. Renck’s direction balances the gritty poison and smog of the environment with smooth production elements that bring the setting and time period to life with apparent ease. His use of time jumps and flashbacks aren’t used as a gimmick but instead used in a mature fashion to add depth to the series. The recreation of the 1980s time period and the European locations are brought to life with the combination of live action sets paired with CGI and the end results are incredible. The attention to detail with the sets, costumes, props, hair & make-up, etc. are Emmy worthy. The make-up and prosthetics showcasing the radiation damage as people’s bodies deteriorated was effective, startling, disturbing and impressive. Speaking of which, this show won a slew of Emmy Awards including the top honor, Outstanding Limited Series, of which it was 100% deserving. Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir had one Hell of a 2019 as she not only won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for “Joker” but also deservedly won an Emmy for Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special (Original Dramatic Score) with her “Chernobyl” score, proving to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to film and TV composing and I will be watching any future projects she attaches herself to. The sound editing and mixing, along with every other production design element comes off as perfect here. Not a moment is wasted as characters are developed and have growth (particularly Stellan Skarsgård’s Boris Shcherbina). The casting is perfect and the lead trio of Skarsgård, Jared Harris and Emily Watson knock their respective roles out of the park. The show is engaging from start to finish as you will not want to stop watching. In terms of watching the series in a post Coronavirus landscape, the show takes on even more meaning and becomes even more relevant than it previously was. It’s not just the imagery of people wearing masks as bodies begin piling up, although that will stir emotion on its own. The biggest parallels to be drawn between the disaster at Chernobyl in the late 80s and the Coronavirus pandemic of today is how both were initially downplayed resulting in many deaths, brought about by complete incompetence, foolishness, recklessness and even evil and how ill prepared countries/the world was in the early days. In both cases, governments, whose perhaps greatest function is to keep its citizens safe, failed on a spectacular level and only made things worse. In the case of Chernobyl, the fact that this happened in the communist Soviet Union made things a million times worse, due to all of the lies, cover ups, silencing of whistleblowers and false information put out by The State to save face. In the ultimate display of irony, Russia banned this series in its country (censorship never seems to go out of style over there) as a Marxist-Leninist political party dubbed the series as “disgusting”. God forbid the gross incompetence and failures of the Soviet Union and the many individual failures at Chernobyl be acknowledged. While each country and each form of government may not be the same, one continuous certainty seems to be the failure of governments around the world. It is as true today as it was on April 26th 1986. I love that the show displays the true acts of heroism from scientists risking their lives to speak out about the truth to the hard working every man like the firefighters, miners, doctors, nurses and first responders who put their own safety at risk to help their fellow countrymen out. This series is important, timely, relevant, well made, entertaining, emotional and everything you can ask for in a television miniseries. Do the (Cher)noble thing and watch it as soon as you can.

#TheGraphiteAgainstTime / #OneRadiationUnderGod / #UkraineWreck / #BreakingComrade / #LieOfTheGeigerBySurvivor / #BoronAndMoron

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