Chernobyl ~ A Capsule TV Review

Chernobyl ~ A Capsule TV Review by Allen Kopp

On April 26, 1986, a nuclear power reactor exploded and melted down at Chernobyl, Ukraine, Soviet Union, releasing deadly radiation into the air that was detected the next day as far away as Sweden. It was an accident, as accidents very often are, that was never supposed to happen. The Soviet Union didn’t want the world to know about the accident and tried to cover it up—not only that it happened but that it was as bad as it was. Over time the toll on people, animals, crops, forests, and the environment would be incalculable.

HBO’s five-episode series, Chernobyl, is a grim dramatization of the explosion and meltdown and the events that followed, including the politics, the obfuscation, the lies, the temper tantrums, and the hunt for a scapegoat. It makes for great TV viewing, if you don’t mind seeing graphic human suffering. It’s more disturbing than any horror movie because it’s real-life horror instead of the product of a writer’s imagination. Sometimes you just have to look away (or fast-forward or mute), as, for me, when pets were being killed because they, as everything else, was contaminated with radiation.

Chernobyl has an authentic Soviet Union look and feel, instead of a slick Hollywood feel. Everything, down to the smallest detail (clothes, shoes, hairstyles, interior furnishings, etc.), looks absolutely authentic. Every character, no matter how small (the old woman milking the cow, for example) seems perfect for the time, the place and the situation. If you’re looking for something seriously good to watch on TV this summer, I don’t think you’ll do better than Chernobyl.

Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp

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