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Chernobyl

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This was an incredible mini series. I really liked how there was the moment of real life in Pripyat with the pool and everyone in town. Those poor people. The sad update about the people on the bridge and how none survived. The trial was interesting, I only know of Soviet style trials from reading Animal Farm in 12th grade, with some false “evidence” and witnesses. Everything that was presented was pretty much a solid fact. I wonder if the moment the solider moved the mike closer to Legasov came from recordings, that was such an odd moment. I hope all the actors qualify for an ensemble Emmy/BAFTA.

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Just brilliant TV.  Seeing how the truth tellers were shut down - well done to the ones who made sure their story was told. 

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Terrific end to the series. 

The opening scene of people in Pripyat, some of whom we recognize, was so poignant. 

Legasov attempted suicide before, in  the summer of 1987, I believe it was. His wife saved him that time.  I wonder if he did speak out at that trial. In reality, he was not thanked for his performance in Vienna, even though many westerners felt he had saved the USSR’s standing in the world for telling as much as he did there.  At home, that was when his slide at Kurchatov began, as his colleagues turned against him  

The trial was closed to press and most people except for the opening day statements and the judges’ verdict on the last day. So many things could have happened, and I think I will hope that Legasov did in fact tell all the truth. 

PS. Well, dang, podcast says Legasov wasn’t even there, which was my previous impression before this episode. I guess the tapes he recorded were the vehicle to get the message around. 

Edited by Calamity Jane
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2 hours ago, KLeewrite said:

Someone needs to help me out here. Legasov got up to deliver his testimony...and my system decided to test its emergency alert system right then. We got the test for a couple of minutes and when the show came back, we were in the control room and Asimov was whispering to the young guy that he was doing fine. Can you fill me in on those couple of minutes that I missed? Many thanks!

Legasov starts using the chart to explain how the reactivy was going up and down in the reactor before, during and after the test. The red plaques are the events that make it go up, the blue ones go down. It's supposed to be a balance. To go into more detail I would have to transcribe word for word, I don't know how to summarize it. Back at the control room, Dyatlov is harassing Toptunov for going too slow and Akimov reassures him.

That part of the story is gut wrenching. The tension in the control room is palpable. Everyone knows they are going about it the wrong way, but none will stop Dyatlov. Akimov tries alone and is swiftly shut down. I imagine they all regretted not intervening for the short rest of their lives.

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The courtroom testimony about what is supposed to happen and did happen as well as the context of the operational test was just riveting to watch. That’s as good an explanation I’ve seen of a well planned expert testimony even for an American courtroom, much less a show trial in 1980s Soviet Russia.

Edited by theschnauzers · Reason: Typo
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Quote

The courtroom testimony about what is supposed to happen and did happen as well as the context of the operational test was just riveting tO watch. That’s as good an explanation I’ve seen of a well planned expert testimony even for an American courtroom, much less a show trial in 1980s Soviet Russia.

I think the courtroom scenes were dramatizations, and it did not happen like that in real life though.

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Excellent series.  I went to work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation right after the meltdown,  in communications.  My PR coworkers had just given interviews with the likes of Connie Chung at 60 Minutes because we also had a graphite reactor. It was already shut down and was undergoing massive safety renovations., and definitely had a different design. It was actually a weapons reactor. 

I am always puzzled by the Soviet Union,  the philosophy, the thinking behind the way they governed.  It just blows me away that they wouldn't want the scientific truth,  in a closed hearing,  no less. I never understood the appeal while watching The Americans, either.

I see many Emmys coming for this show.  

Edited by Andromeda
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1 hour ago, FinnishViewer said:

I think the courtroom scenes were dramatizations, and it did not happen like that in real life though.

Mazin talked about why he dramatized it in the podcast, that it was his biggest change for the series. He wanted to have a whole section of the show about science and used the trial to do it. It was something he had in mind when he started writing the show.

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On 6/3/2019 at 11:48 AM, proserpina65 said:
On 6/1/2019 at 10:26 AM, MsBig said:

What did throw me off slightly was actually the casting of the pet-hunting young man. I think Nina Gold's casting is genius but I'm not sure she made the right call with him. Nothing wrong with his acting, but his face is so typically Russian that it made me start thinking about the rest of the cast, none of whom look Russian. I hadn't noticed that before I saw him!

Are you referring to Pavel, the new kid on the patrol?  Because that was Barry Keoghan, who is Irish.  But looking at his picture on IMDB, he does look very eastern European.  Some of the other actors do as well, but not to the same extent.

I too was distracted by his unique looks—thinking of his possible ancestry—wondering if his DNA contained that of pillagers from Asian armies, just as my father's family look more like those groups who regularly terrorized their communities on the same land where a nuclear reactor would one day be built by a government who still did not care for the safety of its citizens (which previously bloodstained history was appropriately included in the closing screen text).
But then I recalled that much of the cast was from the UK, and realized how much the young actor resembled my Welsh brother-in-law and my grand-nephew, which brought me back to seeing him as any young man facing a war he did not have any interest in fighting.

In the finale, "Vichnaya Pamyat" (what does that mean?) the battle for the truth was several times likened aptly to a war worth fighting. Among the countlessly well-done things in this series was the way they kept back the root cause of the catastrophe being the cutting of corners to save money (and the fear of the State's power, and the desire for power of one's own that that fear engendered) until it was dramatically revealed by Legasov in testimony that was almost cut off, and would have been (with the possible result being more Chernobyl-like events) if not for the recognition by Boris that Legasov was right—in telling him moments earlier during a break precipitated by Boris's coughing due to lung cancer—that Boris alone had the power to make a difference—precisely because he was deemed a man of no consequence (as he so thought himself) and so was put in a place where he could make a difference. And so—whether or not entirely historically accurate—this one politician stands up for the truth of the scientists and thereby perhaps saves humans from extinction.

And that^ is basically what you missed, @KLeewrite, so be sure to watch it later when you can.
  
  

Edited by shapeshifter · Reason: Typo
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I burst into tears in the opening scene, when Lyudmilla peers through the window at Vasily, who is holding a baby -- and then again when I found out she was finally able to have a son.

Chernobyl is a great achievement in storytelling.

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5 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

<snip>

In the finale, "Vichnaya Pamyat" (what does that mean?) the battle for the truth was several times likened aptly to a war worth fighting.

<snip>

According to Google Translate, Вечная Память translates to "Everlasting memory."

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17 minutes ago, Kath94 said:

According to Google Translate, Вечная Память translates to "Everlasting memory."

Or “eternal memory.”

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7 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

In the finale, "Vichnaya Pamyat" (what does that mean?

I googled it immediately after. I means eternamemory, and apparently there's a very somber musical piece by that name. I believe Russians use it like we do "rest in peace".

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6 hours ago, ChicksDigScars said:

Jesus-fucking-Christ. That's all I could think to say as I stared at the TV, slack jawed, as the credits rolled. 

Not only does Chernobyl deserve ALL the Emmy's, it deserves to steal the Game of Thrones Final Season thunder (and for that matter, Veep's Final season thunder, as well), and totally dominate at the awards. Riveting, infuriating, some of the best television I've ever watched. 

Absolutely agree. My husband and I were saying it was incredible how riveting the entire series is. We have even been doing a rewatch up to the last series. Just want to see it all again. I would easily buy a dvd box set with extras and interviews...and hope they release one! Attn: TPTB!

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On 6/4/2019 at 4:29 PM, MadameKillerB said:

Absolutely agree. My husband and I were saying it was incredible how riveting the entire series is. We have even been doing a rewatch up to the last series. Just want to see it all again. I would easily buy a dvd box set with extras and interviews...and hope they release one! Attn: TPTB!

I know this has already been mentioned, but if you still need a fix, I highly recommend Midnight at Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham. I am reading it now and it's excellent!

ETA: Midnight IN Chernobyl. Not at. Getting the right preposition, especially for a book I am actually reading, is apparently a bridge too far.

Edited by MJ Frog · Reason: Accuracy.
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31 minutes ago, marinw said:

Yes, I think this one is only going to grow in reputation and popularity. I was a bit hesitant at first as the writer had done some movies that just aren’t my (old lady’s) taste, but it was absolutely terrific. I really hope he will do more in this vein - I’ll certainly be watching for what he does next. 

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I thought this series was surprisingly well done, and found drama and resonance in a story we (at least mostly) already knew. Though most conventional analysis today pegs the risk of a larger disaster capable of making the entire Ukraine uninhabitable as not quite as dire as shown here, I didn't know anything about that until this series.

But I didn't understand  the scene with the "bouncing" control rods in the last episode during the trial. Why did the reactor explode if the control rods were in (mostly), as shown in "bouncing" scene? I got that their graphite tips accelerated the reaction, and I thought he explained that something made further insertion of the control rods difficult or problematic, but then we seen the scene with them essentially entirely inserted. What did I not understand? I'm obviously missing something. 

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32 minutes ago, ahpny said:

But I didn't understand  the scene with the "bouncing" control rods in the last episode during the trial. Why did the reactor explode if the control rods were in (mostly), as shown in "bouncing" scene? I got that their graphite tips accelerated the reaction, and I thought he explained that something made further insertion of the control rods difficult or problematic, but then we seen the scene with them essentially entirely inserted. What did I not understand? I'm obviously missing something. 

What we were seeing were the steel-graphite plugs that sat over the top of the channels through which the fuel rods and control rods were inserted. Once installed, the control rods are well below the floor of the reactor hall, and there is no visible evidence of their movement. This Wikipedia page has a great description of the RBMK reactor.

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So so good. Interesting that the graphite tips on the boron rods were a cost-saving measure. Back in the day, my dad worked for an engineering firm that put a bid in on Three Mile Island. After the "accident" there, he mentioned that the builders had gone with the lowest bid. So: Don't cut costs when you're building a freaking nuclear power plant, k?

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18 hours ago, Andromeda said:

I am always puzzled by the Soviet Union,  the philosophy, the thinking behind the way they governed.  It just blows me away that they wouldn't want the scientific truth,  in a closed hearing,  no less. 

I don't think this is systematic of just the Soviet Union. 

Salon has an article that argues that just like the Soviet Union lied about Chernobyl - the U.S. lied about the air quality around the World Trade Center after 911. The EPA said the air was fine, when really there was a lot of asbestos in the air and a lot of first responders have been dying from it. 

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19 minutes ago, AuntTora said:

Global climate change will be exponentially more destructive to humanity than Chernobyl

The cruel irony is that nuclear power is a "Clean" source of power compared to traditional fossil fuels. Except for all that pesky radiation...

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56 minutes ago, Macbeth said:

Salon has an article that argues that just like the Soviet Union lied about Chernobyl - the U.S. lied about the air quality around the World Trade Center after 911. The EPA said the air was fine, when really there was a lot of asbestos in the air and a lot of first responders have been dying from it. 

I would say the difference in scale and motivations makes the comparison inapt.  With 9/11, I think the problem was more ignorance than any particular desire to cover up.  The EPA marched ahead with bad and/or incomplete information, and allowed it to be spun more positively than it should have been.  And once it became known, steps were taken to rectify what had happened.  With Chernobyl, the Soviets knew the issue, knew what would happen, and purposefully took steps to cover it all up, regardless of the consequences.  

One thing I wanted to note was the sets and set design, along with locations.  They wonderfully captured the 1980s Soviet look, where everything looked run down and you could feel the whole environment was just kind of an oppressive decline.  

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1 hour ago, Macbeth said:

I don't think this is systematic of just the Soviet Union. 

Salon has an article that argues that just like the Soviet Union lied about Chernobyl - the U.S. lied about the air quality around the World Trade Center after 911. The EPA said the air was fine, when really there was a lot of asbestos in the air and a lot of first responders have been dying from it. 

Happened to watch Spike Lee’s documentary on when the levees broke after Katrina, and many of the same shenanigans went on with which deaths were attributable to the hurricane and which weren’t. Governments are governments, I guess. Another horror story. 

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51 minutes ago, marinw said:

The cruel irony is that nuclear power is a "Clean" source of power compared to traditional fossil fuels. Except for all that pesky radiation...

Around the time of Chernobyl, my ex was a big proponent of nuclear power, for this exact reason. I hadn't made up my mind -- I could see his points but something about it just felt really creepy, and the issues around storing spent fuel, which is still dangerous FOREVER, seemed insurmountable. After Chernobyl, and after the information about what had caused it started to come out, I came down on the side of "nope". Not that he was wrong, but that the human animal was not (and is still not) mature enough to handle it. The profit motive makes commercial exploitation extremely iffy, and authoritarian regimes couldn't manage it. It's a technology lacking an appropriate civilization.

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58 minutes ago, marinw said:

The cruel irony is that nuclear power is a "Clean" source of power compared to traditional fossil fuels. Except for all that pesky radiation...

And apparently the environmental-turned-nationalist movement, which came to power when Ukraine became independent, largely on anti-Chernobyl sentiments, eventually had to go back reluctantly to nuclear just because they couldn’t meet energy needs with coal or oil. Hugely ironic. 

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I am so glad that I heard about the buzz this show was getting, because it was an incredible series, destined to be a classic miniseries. The ending, showing the actual pictures of the abandoned city of Chernobyl and the actual people from the story, really hit me hard. That and the opening scene of people going about their lives cheerfully right before the explosion, including people we see again after the explosion. Poor Lyudmilla looking at Vasily holding their friends baby. The friend and baby who went out to watch the explosion and she saw later covered in radiation burns. The part about how everyone who watched on the bridge died just made that scene from the pilot even worse. Its really going to haunt me. And we will never even know how many people really died...

In such a sad, bleak miniseries, I really loved the conversation between Legasov and Shcherbina where Shcherbina admits that his health is getting worse and worse and that he feels like he wasted his life, and Legasov tells him what an amazing thing he did here and what a good man he was and that his life really did have meaning. And the implication that Legasov finally told the truth after seeing that his friend is dying because of this exact bullshit that people are still trying to cover up. In the midst of all the frustration and tragedy, it was really heartwarming seeing their friendship grow.

Great acting, cinematography, writing, directing, and a very haunting ending. Hopefully it will get all the awards that it deserves. 

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It took me a day to put 2 and 2 together and realize the prosecutor was Roose Bolton. I couldn't put my finger initially on why he looked so familiar. 

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7 hours ago, tennisgurl said:

 I really loved the conversation between Legasov and Shcherbina where Shcherbina admits that his health is getting worse and worse and that he feels like he wasted his life, and Legasov tells him what an amazing thing he did here and what a good man he was and that his life really did have meaning. . . . it was really heartwarming seeing their friendship grow.

From some school teacher when I was a kid in the 50s-60s, I latched onto the idea that the only change for good that a person could make was to change one's self and set an example. Boris and Valery together encouraging each other to do good through honesty and self-sacrifice expand upon this idea. The coal miners too. The portrayal of unique individuals who could be any of us makes this series.

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As others have already said, the Choir at the end gutted me. It was such a  sharp contrast to the modern, abstarct dosimeter-based score for the rest of the series.

Edited by marinw
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The New Yorker condemned the miniseries for not being 100% accurate.  The liberties he condemns are in fact absolutely necessary to make the thing comprehensible to the layman. 

For example, we KNOW that Shcherbina never said "pretend I'm an idiot and explain how a nuclear reactor works," but we also know that it needs to be explained to US that way.  Still, it's an interesting article.

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7 minutes ago, Notwisconsin said:

not being 100% accurate

 Emily Watson's character was not an actual person. I admire her performace so I am ok with that. And as far as I understand, the showrunners admit the show isn't 100% acuarate. 

Edited by marinw
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1 hour ago, Notwisconsin said:

The New Yorker condemned the miniseries for not being 100% accurate.  The liberties he condemns are in fact absolutely necessary to make the thing comprehensible to the layman. 

For example, we KNOW that Shcherbina never said "pretend I'm an idiot and explain how a nuclear reactor works," but we also know that it needs to be explained to US that way.  Still, it's an interesting article.

I was pretty indignant/incredulous when I read this New York Times article, effectively skewering the series. Hale's closing paragraph is perhaps the least professional thing I have ever heard/read a professional critic say -- that someone other than the artist who created the art should have created it.  How rude.

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While I'm used to text postcripts in historical films/TV shows, I was shocked to see the postscript explain that Ulana Khomyuk was a fictional composite character. Composite characters are a standard feature of historical dramas, but I've never seen a postscript state that before.

It seems incredibly unfair that Dyatlov whose incompetence was in no small part responsible for the disaster got to live another nine years after Chernobyl, while Akimov and Toptunov died swiftly of acute radiation sickness in what I can only imagine was horrifying pain.

This was an excellent series, hopefully leading to bigger and better things for Craig Mazin who wrote some great scripts here. Beautiful, bleak, and a stunning attention to detail as Slava Malamud's live tweets on the series will attest. Fantastic acting as well. 

Quote

Nothing wrong with his acting, but his face is so typically Russian that it made me start thinking about the rest of the cast, none of whom look Russian. I hadn't noticed that before I saw him!

I've seen several complaints that no cast members look credibly Russian or even Eastern European except maybe Barry Keoghan (Pavel) or Paul Ritter (Dyatlov), but I've never known what "looking Eastern European" is supposed to mean, and I'm of Eastern European extraction myself.

Edited by Eyes High
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10 hours ago, MVFrostsMyPie said:

It took me a day to put 2 and 2 together and realize the prosecutor was Roose Bolton. I couldn't put my finger initially on why he looked so familiar. 

For me it was the voice. 

Michael McElhatton who played Roose Bolton has an amazing voice.

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Ok, this freaks me out—chart showing varying levels of radiation you are exposed to over your life and how that relates to standing next to the open core at Chernobyl: 1024px-Radiation_Dose_Chart_by_Xkcd.png

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This show is to tv what the Titantic movie is to film but without the sweeping romance. Taking an historical event that everyone knows the basic outcome of but presenting it in such a way as to convey the emotional impact of the disaster, which is no small feat giving all the complex science involved.

Radiation really is an unpredictable bitch isn't it. The men that went into the plant to turn off the water in the 2nd and 3rd episodes lived and I think I read even the man at the plant who held open the door and get burned minutes after the blast lived but everyone on the bridge miles away died?!?! Crazy!

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I for one was grateful for Legasov breaking down point by point what went wrong and explaining it in a way that I could grasp, as someone who is too lazy to research how it all works. I really appreciated that, and I enjoyed the flashbacks. The tension in the control room was palpable, even when you knew the outcome (and maybe because of it). I've wanted to see that asshole Dyatlov get his comeuppance since the first episode. Although, did the closing credits say he went on to work at some other nuclear power plant after getting out of prison? Oy. Finally, seeing the actual explosions was spectacular. 

Great series, terribly compelling, but I don't think I could sit through it a second time. There was just too much about it that was gruesome and hard to watch.

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