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Don’t know how widespread the rules are in the US, but in IL, I was told I couldn’t cremate a deceased family member (her wishes) because she had undergone a couple rounds of radiation treatment for breast cancer about a decade prior to her passing. If it’s that dangerous on a scale of one, it’s hard to comprehend what it would be like with mass radiation casualties. 

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6 minutes ago, crystalball said:

 If it’s that dangerous on a scale of one, it’s hard to comprehend what it would be like with mass radiation casualties. 

The more you know! Thank you for explaining.

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4 hours ago, proserpina65 said:

The nurse did ask and she did say no.  I'm thinking she didn't really understand the danger, and that if she had known how bad it could be, she'd have at least not touched her husband.

I think part of the reason for including her story (she is a real person) was to illustrate how little people understood about radiation and its dangers.  It seems the government concealed this from everyone they could, and certainly the facility seems not to have been supplied with protective clothing and equipment.  Why on earth didn’t they have “good” dosimeters in every room??  Gas masks, lead aprons, at least?  I still flinch when I think of those men running around in their thin lab suits to look at an open nuclear reactor.  

The general unawareness of the danger among the general population was also pretty evident the night of the event when everyone stood in the rain of radioactive ash admiring the beauty of the ionizing air, and when Lyudmila worried about chemicals at the fire.

Lyudmila’s story was also a way to get us in to the hospital to see the firefighters and the progression of their damage, and thereby to educate us the audience about the horrendous effects of excess radiation exposure. We all know radiation is bad for us, but I don’t think most people understood it to this degree. 

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I know Stellan Skarsgård is a talented and acclaimed actor, but I am constantly distracted by his horrible, gravelly speaking voice. Sure, a few actors have become famous speaking in a signature growl, but Skarsgård's is painful to listen to; it's as if he has swallowed broken glass. Most actors receive vocal training, which makes me wonder whether he has some medical issue or simply has bad technique.

Anyway, that one silly annoyance is the only thing I can criticize about this mesmerizing, horrifying show. 

I keep waiting for Barry Keoghan's character to get significant screen time. He's a well-respected up-and-coming actor, so I'll be surprised if he doesn't get some sort of storyline.

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I keep thinking Stellan’s gravelly voice reminds me of some other actor doing the same, slightly distracting thing, but can’t remember who or when.

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4 hours ago, Calamity Jane said:

was to illustrate how little people understood about radiation and its dangers.  It seems the government concealed this from everyone they could

The Soviet government considered everything to do with nuclear power to be a military/state secret. 

I found an interesting site with a lot of information about every aspect of Chernobyl including a discussion of the flaws in the RBMK reactor design and an evaluation of the health of residents 20 years after the explosion.  When it talks about the reactor, it quickly gets too technical for me, but most of it is in plain English.

Edited by Quilt Fairy
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25 minutes ago, Portia said:

I know Stellan Skarsgård is a talented and acclaimed actor, but I am constantly distracted by his horrible, gravelly speaking voice. Sure, a few actors have become famous speaking in a signature growl, but Skarsgård's is painful to listen to; it's as if he has swallowed broken glass. Most actors receive vocal training, which makes me wonder whether he has some medical issue or simply has bad technique.

Anyway, that one silly annoyance is the only thing I can criticize about this mesmerizing, horrifying show. 

I keep waiting for Barry Keoghan's character to get significant screen time. He's a well-respected up-and-coming actor, so I'll be surprised if he doesn't get some sort of storyline.

I keep wondering about that voice, too. It sounds like damaged vocal cords to me. It makes me want to clear my own throat. I hope it’s nothing serious; he is a very good actor. 

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On 5/22/2019 at 9:48 AM, islandgal140 said:

I've started wondering how much clean-up and abatement cost the Russian government. Also, I wonder if they had to pay neighboring countries and their citizens damages.

Spoiler

It basically bankrupted them. Belarus alone was responsible for over $200 billion in containment and clean up. Wikipedia has more details. 

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What impressed me about the latest episode was that the medical aspect was "explicit" (as another poster described it) without being gratuitous. It showed us the horror of dying of radiation poisoning without indulging in misery porn. This may have to do partly with the restrained performances and the absence of melodramatic music.

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On 5/22/2019 at 5:55 PM, Calamity Jane said:

I think part of the reason for including her story (she is a real person) was to illustrate how little people understood about radiation and its dangers.  It seems the government concealed this from everyone they could, and certainly the facility seems not to have been supplied with protective clothing and equipment.  Why on earth didn’t they have “good” dosimeters in every room??  Gas masks, lead aprons, at least?  I still flinch when I think of those men running around in their thin lab suits to look at an open nuclear reactor.  

The general unawareness of the danger among the general population was also pretty evident the night of the event when everyone stood in the rain of radioactive ash admiring the beauty of the ionizing air, and when Lyudmila worried about chemicals at the fire.

Lyudmila’s story was also a way to get us in to the hospital to see the firefighters and the progression of their damage, and thereby to educate us the audience about the horrendous effects of excess radiation exposure. We all know radiation is bad for us, but I don’t think most people understood it to this degree. 

I watched this episode again last night, and Lyudmilla definitely seems completely unaware of the danger.  The nurse (doctor?) told her not to stay long, and asked about pregnancy, but didn't tell her why it was important.  I'm not blaming that poor woman because she clearly was struggling to cope with the scale of the disaster she was dealing with.  As you say, the lack of information came from way up the food chain, but its effect was devastating.

 

On 5/22/2019 at 5:55 PM, Calamity Jane said:

We all know radiation is bad for us, but I don’t think most people understood it to this degree. 

I had no idea before what radiation poisoning does to the body, but that was ghastly, and even then, it was probably toned down somewhat.

22 hours ago, kieyra said:

I keep thinking Stellan’s gravelly voice reminds me of some other actor doing the same, slightly distracting thing, but can’t remember who or when.

I love his voice.  I've always found it (and him in general) to be extremely attractive.

Edited by proserpina65
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26 minutes ago, proserpina65 said:

I had no idea before what radiation poisoning does to the body, but that was ghastly, and even then, it was probably toned down somewhat.

I love his voice.  I've always found it (and him in general) to be extremely attractive.

His sons aren't too bad either 😉

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A thing I really liked about this episode was how they showed Vasily deteriorating *before* we got the explanation from Legasov about what radiation poisoning does to you. I feel like a lot of shows would have have that scene with Legasov and Shcherbina and then cut to Vasily and Lyudmilla, but instead we got an explanation of what we had already seen and building up the dread that it was going to get worse. And boy, did it get worse. I understand why that effects-and-make-up guy said that the research he had to do for this show was the worst he'd ever done.

I was also frustrated with Lyudmilla, but looking back I agree with what was said above - it shows how little *everyone* probably understood about this. No one explained to her WHY she couldn't touch him, or WHY it mattered whether she was pregnant.

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I couldn't help myself. I jumped into the rabbit hole and found Lyudmilla Ignatenko's story from Voices from Chernobyl. I wanted to find out what her naive and ill informed actions had cost her, as far as her pregnancy. If you want to be spoiled, it's here

I'm trying to state the above in a dispassionate manner, as to not give away anything to those that do not want to know. Sorry if it seems cold. 

Edited by ChicksDigScars
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1 hour ago, ChicksDigScars said:

I couldn't help myself. I jumped into the rabbit hole and found Lyudmilla Ignatenko's story from Voices from Chernobyl. I wanted to find out what her naive and ill informed actions had cost her, as far as her pregnancy. If you want to be spoiled, it's here

I'm trying to state the above in a dispassionate manner, as to not give away anything to those that do not want to know. Sorry if it seems cold. 

Wow, just wow.  Read it, and am at a complete loss for words. 

Edited by Calamity Jane
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I agree that the fireman's wife didn't understand the danger.  When the nurse is tells her not to go past the plastic, the wife says "he's burned" - my thought was she assumed these burns from a fire and didn't understand anything about radiation.

When Emily Watson is interviewing the men in the hospital, she is also shocked when the first guy, who is supposed to be the head engineer I think it was, tells her he's 25 yrs old.   I think the ultimate explanation will be a combo of design and human error (I will have to look it up).

I also loved the miners - at least they went in knowing what was happening, unlike the firemen and even the hospital staff don't seem to fully understand.  It was in episode one I believe when one of the nurses asks a doctor if they have iodine tablets and he asks "why" and this is after you see the obvious radiation exposure.

Back to the miners, when the crew chief is in the trailer with the JH and SS characters and Jared Harris tells him the have to dig 12 feet down for their safety:

"The entrance isn't 12 feet down".  "No"  "Are we 12 feet down now"  "No"   Miner tosses the mask on the desk "if these did anything, you would be wearing them now".  

That was a really good, quiet scene.

The episodes fly by.   Everything is top notch - the effects (I agree, seeing the men this week was for me, heartbreaking yet not gratuitously gruesome) - the acting - perfect casting all around.  Even KGB chief was quietly scary "I don't arrest people any more".  eek!

Jared Harris saying in the first episode "It means the core is OPEN" and I'm saying to myself "oh.my.god!!" 

I will watch each week and then do a binge when we have all the episodes, there are scenes I want to see again.

And yes, it was so sad seeing the dogs following the men around; one of the dogs still had a collar and leash on 😞

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3 hours ago, raven said:

I also loved the miners - at least they went in knowing what was happening, unlike the firemen and even the hospital staff don't seem to fully understand.  It was in episode one I believe when one of the nurses asks a doctor if they have iodine tablets and he asks "why" and this is after you see the obvious radiation exposure.

The hospital in the first episode was the local hospital in Pripyat.  The hospital in the last episode was Hospital #6 in Moscow which is supposed to be a specialty hospital for dealing with radiation issues. 

I've only recently remembered that I saw a documentary a few years ago about the structure that was built over the Chernobyl sarcophagus (which was only estimated to have a 20-30 year lifespan before it deteriorated). It's a Nova special called Building Chernobyl's Megatomb.  If you like geeky engineering stuff, it's pretty interesting. 

Edited by Quilt Fairy
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19 hours ago, ChicksDigScars said:

I couldn't help myself. I jumped into the rabbit hole and found Lyudmilla Ignatenko's story from Voices from Chernobyl. I wanted to find out what her naive and ill informed actions had cost her, as far as her pregnancy. If you want to be spoiled, it's here

I'm trying to state the above in a dispassionate manner, as to not give away anything to those that do not want to know. Sorry if it seems cold. 

Spoiler

Oh man, that was even worse than I'd imagined.

Edited by proserpina65
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During the scenes about the evacuation of Pripyat, I was regretting letting my college Russian get rusty, wishing there were subtitles of the announcements.  Of course, the Internet has everything, so I found it on Youtube.  A great thing about that is that there's a picture that shows how urbanized Pripyat was, so it's shocking to compare with what you can see on Google Street View, though it's tough to discern any buildings behind the overgrowth of trees.

Then I rewatched the evacuation and was able to pay more attention to details (though it helped that this time was on my computer, which is better than my TV), and it was devastating.  You can see a woman trying to bring her dog with her but not allowed to (this wasn't the same dog running after a bus) and a hospital patient struggling on his own to get up and walk out.  Even just that first part with the young couple shocked to see the endless procession of buses arriving was chilling.

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20 hours ago, captain1 said:

Wow that was a horrifying read.  Those poor people.

At least the article explained the shoes. At the funeral, most of the wives were holding their husband's portraits (although I wonder how accurate that was. They would have had to go back to Pripyat to get the photo's, right?) Lyudmilla was holding her husband's shoes. Now I know why. 

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1 minute ago, ChicksDigScars said:

At least the article explained the shoes. At the funeral, most of the wives were holding their husband's portraits (although I wonder how accurate that was. They would have had to go back to Pripyat to get the photo's, right?) Lyudmilla was holding her husband's shoes. Now I know why. 

...Bloody hell, I hadn't thought of that. Yeah, now that scene is worse.

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There are a lot of posters on Reddit who seem angry that the show isn’t spoken/performed in Russian. It’s a little weird. (I don’t just mean the “English accent” thing, I mean they say it’s disappointing that the dialogue isn’t in Russian.) 

It just seems odd for people to expect a creative work produced by English-speaking people to be performed in another language.

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On 5/24/2019 at 11:24 AM, raven said:

When Emily Watson is interviewing the men in the hospital, she is also shocked when the first guy, who is supposed to be the head engineer I think it was, tells her he's 25 yrs old.

According to the Wikipedia stuff he was an acting Senior Engineer but had very little experience in the job - it showed her just how little they valued knowledge esp. of the RBMK reactors - the more you knew about them the more dangerous you were to the State, because you knew what was wrong with them. 

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On 5/24/2019 at 8:26 PM, Schweedie said:

...Bloody hell, I hadn't thought of that. Yeah, now that scene is worse.

Sorry I feel a bit stupid right now but what is the meaning of her holding his shoes?

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33 minutes ago, Chas411 said:

Sorry I feel a bit stupid right now but what is the meaning of her holding his shoes?

After backtracking through posts and links, I think it’s that they couldn’t get his shoes on his feet to bury him in. 

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34 minutes ago, Chas411 said:

Sorry I feel a bit stupid right now but what is the meaning of her holding his shoes?

When she brought his suit/shoes to bury him in, his body was in such a state that they physically, literally, couldn't get him into his shoes (and they had to cut up the suit to get that onto him).

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In 2004, the History Channel aired a Canadian/British documentary series called "Zero Hour".  The first episode was about Chernobyl.  I watched it the other day (it's only about an hour long) and it was very good; some commentary from survivors and and details about what went wrong that I was able to understand.  It's on Amazon Prime so may be on other platforms.  What we saw in the first episode of this series mirrors what was shown in the 2004 doc.

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One historical point: Prior to Chernobyl, there had been only one massive population exposure to radiation — the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the most isolated exposure during the post WWII nuclear and hydrogen bond tests by various countries that ended with the Nuclear Test Ban treaty of 1963.

So there was some medical knowledge of the short, medium and long term effects of radiation poisoning long before Chernobyl. Which makes the lack of more general knowledge in medical and government communities, and the failure to communicate these effects more explicitly even more shocking. It comes across as a concealment trying to avoid mass panic which put millions of lives at risk then.

Its just astonishing! 

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So, the Chernobyl episode of Zero Hour was pretty interesting and worth the watch (thanks @raven). The thing I hadn't realized is that the three other reactors at the site continued to produce power for years afterward, the last reactor shutting down around 2000. And problems continued while they were operating, with one of the turbines catching fire, among other things. I would love to know the story behind all that -- were the workers only allowed to stay for a certain amount of time to limit exposure? Where did they live? What precautions did they take (if any)?

Part of the documentary was shot in the control room for one of the decommissioned reactors. That's great and all, but I'm not sure I would want to go that far for authenticity!

Edited by MJ Frog · Reason: Clarity.
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On 5/23/2019 at 12:31 PM, proserpina65 said:

I watched this episode again last night, and Lyudmilla definitely seems completely unaware of the danger.  The nurse (doctor?) told her not to stay long, and asked about pregnancy, but didn't tell her why it was important.  I'm not blaming that poor woman because she clearly was struggling to cope with the scale of the disaster she was dealing with.  As you say, the lack of information came from way up the food chain, but its effect was devastating.

I had no idea before what radiation poisoning does to the body, but that was ghastly, and even then, it was probably toned down somewhat.

I love his voice.  I've always found it (and him in general) to be extremely attractive.

He was super hot in RIVER. I envy the people who haven't watched it yet and get to go in blind for the first time. 

 

On 5/25/2019 at 6:31 PM, kieyra said:

There are a lot of posters on Reddit who seem angry that the show isn’t spoken/performed in Russian. It’s a little weird. (I don’t just mean the “English accent” thing, I mean they say it’s disappointing that the dialogue isn’t in Russian.) 

It just seems odd for people to expect a creative work produced by English-speaking people to be performed in another language.

In a lot of cases I do believe that performing it in the native language adds something to the overall feeling. This time it doesn't bother me. A lot of the information is very confusing for me, someone who knows nothing about how the reactors and other things work, and I find myself watching each episode twice as is. I like that I don't have to read subtitles because I'd rather focus on the details of the scene.

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I didn’t even notice the British accents until people on this forum pointed them out! To me it’s like seeing a Shakespeare Play in Modern Dress, after a few moments it seems natural.

I am so grateful this show does not employ a conventionally melodramatic soundtrack. The music (such as it is) sounds like it is based on Geiger counters. Very cool and appropriate.

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I don't usually care much for showrunners/creators/etc. podcasts about their shows, but I found the ones for this show really interesting -- they address a lot of the issues we've been talking about in the thread. Here they are on YouTube, but obviously, they're also on other platforms that you listen to podcasts on.

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4 hours ago, tljgator said:

I don't usually care much for showrunners/creators/etc. podcasts about their shows, but I found the ones for this show really interesting -- they address a lot of the issues we've been talking about in the thread. Here they are on YouTube, but obviously, they're also on other platforms that you listen to podcasts on.

I find the podcasts almost necessary for fully understanding the episode. And they inspired me to start more reading into the accident. Midnight at Chernobyl is a very good read. From it, I conclude that Legasov himself is a bit of a portmanteau character, in that he is shown making decisions and conclusions in the show that other people either had a hand in or actually were responsible for. Anyway the story as it is being told does follow the facts as told in this book, but there’s just so much more. It’s heartbreaking. 

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On 5/25/2019 at 7:31 PM, kieyra said:

There are a lot of posters on Reddit who seem angry that the show isn’t spoken/performed in Russian. It’s a little weird. (I don’t just mean the “English accent” thing, I mean they say it’s disappointing that the dialogue isn’t in Russian.) 

It just seems odd for people to expect a creative work produced by English-speaking people to be performed in another language.

Steven Spielberg, who produced the film of Memoirs of a Geisha, admitted in an interview that he wished it had been filmed in Japan with Japanese actors speaking in their native language rather than an uneasy mix of Japanese and Chinese actors speaking in English.

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On 5/22/2019 at 2:29 AM, Snow Fairy said:

I was 1, my mother remembers being told not to go outside.

No one knew the real danger, I think. (We live in Croatia, the cloud was above us for some while)

A lot of people in our generation have thyroid problems, autoimmune diseases, infertility, and for some time I'm wondering if this had something to do with that

My best friend was born in Croatia and when we talked about this show the other day, she recalled that she was in senior kindergarten at the time and they weren't allowed outside at recess. 

I'm in Canada and vaguely remember hearing about it, but it didn't directly affect us in anyway, so it was just a thing that happened somewhere else. 

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It's interesting that when it's one-on-one bureaucrat-with-scientist who find themselves responsible for preventing total extinction of life on earth that they manage to cut through the bullcrap and see each other as equals.

There's a tiny bit of cosmic justice in having those coal miners and the three guys who went back into open the valves finally shown as heroes.

I wonder if the feminist perspective is accurate. 

*******

I wasn't going to watch this because it's 100% grim, but I couldn't resist.

I do wish there was a little comic relief because it would give the show a wider audience, and the unvarnished historic lesson of the dangers of towing a party line may once again be necessary to humanity's survival.
But I also understand why the writers might have decided that it was inappropriate to add levity, given the great sacrifices depicted, and, also, the horror caused by the bureaucrats makes them beyond the target of even derisive humor.  

Edited by shapeshifter
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There's a great documentary on Amazon Prime called Babushkas of Chernobyl that is well worth watching. Inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.

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Sorry to post while episode in progress (not sure if that’s allowed for this one?) but I really need to warn people that there is animal stuff, if that’s a trigger for you. I’m having to skip a lot. Extremely graphic in some spots. The storyline is still occurring at about the 30min mark. I understand why they’re doing this but it does mean I can’t watch a lot of the episode (so far).

TL;DR domestic animal death warning. It’s an ongoing throughline that (as of 45 mins in) seems to be threaded through the whole episode. 😞

Edited by kieyra
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29 minutes ago, kieyra said:

Sorry to post while episode in progress (not sure if that’s allowed for this one?) but I really need to warn people that there is animal stuff, if that’s a trigger for you. I’m having to skip a lot. Extremely graphic in some spots. The storyline is still occurring at about the 30min mark. I understand why they’re doing this but it does mean I can’t watch a lot of the episode (so far).

TL;DR domestic animal death warning. It’s an ongoing throughline that (as of 45 mins in) seems to be threaded through the whole episode. 😞

Episode just ended. I have to agree. I’m not a big animal person nor do I own a pet but this stuff is like Handmaid’s Tale like trigger (can’t think of another recent show to compare to). Watch with extreme care. 

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I was able to at least catch the stuff about the graphite removal (knew the robot wasn’t going to make it), and the very basic explanation of why “pushing the button” caused the explosion. I do wish we’d seen more of both of those, and less of the ... other stuff. 

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3 hours ago, duddley said:

There's a great documentary on Amazon Prime called Babushkas of Chernobyl that is well worth watching. Inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.

I made a point of finding out the name of the wonderful British actress who played the babushka in the barn. Her name is June Watson. For some reason she’s not listed in the production on IMDb. Glad I was able to freeze-frame the rapid moving cast listings following the episode on HBO Now!

This is a long read but totally worth it, an article detailing the casting for Chernobyl:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/apr/26/game-of-thrones-the-crown-nina-gold-casting-director

Edited by TimWil
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Dang, I just realized I won’t be able to listen to the official podcast either, or at least not all of it. They’ll certainly be addressing that part some more. 

(I know it can seem silly to watch humans get irradiated to death, but then balk at anything having to do with “pets”. So it goes.)

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How I made it through this one, I’m not quite sure, but my eyes certainly had a lot of dust or something in them. I’ll never get over the proud momma dog with her puppies. I think the point would have been made by just what Bacho (?) told Pavel about their task, since the opening showed the cow being shot. 

At least, thank merciful heaven, they didn’t try to show Lyudmila’s baby, or go into detail about that horrifying death. 

I think this is one episode I will not re-watch. 

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3 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

I do wish there was a little comic relief

Come on, didn't you smile at this:

Scherbina (watching technicians manipulate a lunar rover): To think, that's what we put on the moon.

Legasov:  Well, not that one.

Sherbina:  I know not that one!

Otherwise, a very grim slog.  I switched channels every time the animal stuff came on, but it seemed like they did a quick cut away whenever one of the soldiers shot at an animal.  I stayed away for a few minutes when I heard the puppies (the closed captioning actually said "puppies whimpering"), so I don't know what they showed for that. 

There're no winners or losers in the animal slaughter, it's awful but it needed to get done, but I did smile and say to myself when they showed a cat, "Well, no matter what, they will never catch every cat!"

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51 minutes ago, Quilt Fairy said:

There're no winners or losers in the animal slaughter, it's awful but it needed to get done, but I did smile and say to myself when they showed a cat, "Well, no matter what, they will never catch every cat!"

That's what I told myself when they showed the cats because I was in denial. 

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There is no easy way around this episode, but it's necessary to the telling of the story - and I'm very appreciative of what the show chooses to show and not show. It's hard enough to view knowing that they were going to be shooting the animals. I was greatly relieved that the head of Pavel's little group was shown as a compassionate person, not wanting the animals to suffer. And also sending Pavel out of the building when he found him with the litter of pups.

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The reality was that every single one of the farm animals and pets were doomed to die from either radiation or starvation and that wasn’t a happy choice for anyone. That choice was known from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the various Pacific Ocean Islands, and even on land locations like New Mexico, during WWII with the early test of atomic weapons and the tests by various countries after WWII. 

The producers wisely avoided showing any pets being shot, but that old woman’s cow (obviously a stunt cow) was shown on its side after being shot.

Yes, this was another tough episode but the producers did their best, me thinks to not make it explicitly gory.

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According to the podcast, that was a constructed cow, at least the dead one was.

The scene of cleaning off Masha was so intense! I loved that they filmed that in such a close up and personal documentary style. I was surprised it only took less than 4000 men to do it, considering they were all one-and-done. 

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