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I told my father about this show, saying only it was set in the 1940s and called Manhattan, and gave him one guess as to what it was about. He nailed it. The 40s are a largely ignored decade amongst TV shows but its rarity makes it all the more appealing. Considering that many of the files pertaining to the Manhattan Project have only recently been declassified, this riveting show is surprisingly relevant to modern audiences. A myriad of interesting characters populate ‘The Hill’ at Los Alamos, New Mexico as America’s greatest scientific minds race to create the atomic bomb, known euphemistically as “the gadget”. WGN isn’t a network that springs to mind when thinking of great dramas, but they definitely deserve a tip of the fedora for this brilliant show. As multifaceted and complex as the nuclear physics that theoretically comprise the subject material, the real action is centered squarely in the social, romantic, academic, professional and familial relationships that criss-cross The Hill with some surprising and occasionally shocking intersections. The writers weave an astounding tapestry of intrigue, rivalry, paranoia, ego and altruism, brought to life in glorious technicolor by a truly amazing ensemble of talented actors. There may be those put off by some of the rather blatant sexual content, but I think it adds an extra dimension to a stunningly detailed portrait of people in a very small community put under tremendous pressure. It’s virtually impossible not to be drawn in by all the compelling subplots and even though you know how the larger events of the time period play out, I find myself on the edge of my seat, totally engrossed by all the deeply personal and emotional drama. Of course, the writers have chosen to tell a good story rather than adhere strictly to historical accuracy, but since this isn’t a documentary, I don’t have a problem with some creative license.  Manhattan is excitingly clandestine with occasional unexpected volleys of wistful sadness and pain, I was completely entranced by the first season and really look forward to seeing more of the story unfold. – BETHANY

For more on this fascinating window into the genesis of of the atomic bomb, visit:

A very bad pun.

Dr. Frank Winter (center, John Benjamin Hickey) and Dr. Glen Babbit (right, Daniel Stern), both working on the Implosion design for the bomb.

Olivia Williams as Dr. Liza Winters, wife of Frank and a botanist.  She has no idea what her husband is actually building.

Checking one of the Implosion scientists for radiation when he accidentally swallowed some plutonium.

Paul Crosley (Harry Lloyd), a rather slippery and self-serving British scientist.

Dr. Charlie Isaacs (Ashley Zukerman) and his wife Abby (Rachel Brosnahan).

Charlie Isaacs hashing out a problem with Dr. Reed Akley (David Harbour), leader of the Thin Man bomb design.

                      The real J. Robert Oppenheimer (image courtesy of  “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”  – Oppenheimer’s famous utterance upon completing the atomic bomb, quoting the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture originally written in Sanskrit.

Photos courtesy of Lionsgate Television, Shoe Money Productions, Skydance Productions, Tribune Studios and WGN America (unless otherwise noted)


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