Episode Guide (Click The Links For Full Recaps)
1:23:45 – | Review Score – 5/5
Please Remain Calm – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Open Wide, O Earth – | Review Score – 4.5/5
The Happiness Of All Mankind – | Review Score – 5/5
Vichnaya Pamyat – | Review Score – 5/5
Band Of Brothers remains, to me at least, the perfect series. The gritty realism, the grounded, respectful view of the war and all the memorable characters combine to make that 10 part series a beautiful reconstruction of Easy Company’s journey through World War II. Step forward Chernobyl, HBO’s latest mini-series that takes the core elements of what made that show so endearing and expands on it, adding a chilling, terrifying tone and a difficult 5 episodes depicting the true horrors of the Chernobyl disaster.
The story wastes no time getting to the heart of the drama, beginning moments before the reactor blows and all hell breaks loose. From here, the first episode shows those early hours after the explosion, as the true horror is witnessed by those on scene, only later to be realized by officials and Chernobyl’s threat slowly contained.
As the episodes progress, this initial horror is replaced by shock and dread, as the disaster is thwarted by brave men and women who managed to prevent this becoming so much worse than it was. This eventually leads to the final episode, with a split view between the past and present as we see the moments leading up to the explosion and all the pieces slotting into place along the way.
Split across five episodes, Chernobyl is one of the few shows I think benefits from not binging. The weekly releases are perfectly spaced, giving enough time to digest what’s happened whilst mentally preparing for what comes next. The dread-inducing tone throughout the series is something that few shows have managed to nail consistently, with The Terror’s opening few episodes coming close. In a way, Chernobyl takes these core horror elements and adds some realism, making it a far more terrifying show than it would be otherwise.
The attention to detail here is outstanding too and the accompanying podcast with the series is something I’d recommend listening to if you get the chance. From the fireman’s clothes being left in the basement and Doctors using milk to try and stifle burns, right through to the rods jumping up and down and Legasov’s tragic tale, all of these are true reflections of what happened. They’re added with such finesse too, making the show so much more realistic because of it.
The cinematography is slickly produced, with smooth camera work and tidy editing all the way through the episodes. There’s an abundance of long shots here which helps and whether it be cameras following Pavel as he’s tasked with killing animals or lingering shots as scientists bleed from the hip, these deliberate design choices do an amazing job to accentuate just how devastating, and long-lasting, the impact of this explosion was.
I could sit here continuing to gush over Chernobyl but to be honest, the quality of the show speaks for itself. It’s a beautifully written, respectful trip through history, one that does the true story justice and pays tribute to the men and women who sacrificed so much to save so many. Chernobyl deserves to stand alongside Band Of Brothers as one of the best historical miniseries out there.