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Manhattan is an overwrought, overripe piece of pulp fiction stuffed with overboiled intrigue.
Things heat up (literally) in the second hour with Justin Kirk in a guest role. The increasingly engrossing first four episodes move through D-Day.
It's as well acted and intriguingly plotted as any of TV's period dramas.
Messages contrived to make ideological points have a way of exacting a toll from drama-usually a flattening predictability-and this series is no exception.
It does fine work in shadows and close quarters, the influence of the co-executive producer Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing), a veteran TV director with a knack for creating theatrical intimacy.
Manhattan isn't quite yet the great show I know it's capable of being as season two begins, but it's a show that moves with the confidence of a series that knows it can be great.
Frank's the one with the vision and grit Charlie Isaacs is looking for, and he's the one whose absence pulls all the main characters together.
It captures the enormous creative possibilities that come from putting a few hundred great brains together on one army base in the middle of the New Mexico desert, but also the problems that arise.
It still features a superb and growing ensemble cast, a textured commitment to period detail, the smooth execution of some of TV's best directors and the looming potential of atomic detonation to give it all some dramatic juice.
This is the kind of evolution that all-time great series take, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see Manhattan get to the status that it deserves.
The series by Sam Shaw and Thomas Schlamme captures an American past with detail like no series since Mad Men and has an enviable cast.
Audience Reviews for Manhattan: Season 2
May 25, 2018The final season for the prematurely cancelled Manhattan is an all-around strong period piece, albeit one that sometimes mistakes heavy-handedness for intelligence. Like the initial season, Manhattan succeeds mainly through its talented cast of actors, and smart scripts. While at times the drama in the series can feel a bit melodramatic, for the most part Manhattan does a good job of capturing the uncertainty that surrounded the Manhattan project, and the moral dilemmas are ever more dicey this year. The range of characters and sub-plots can still be a bit too much at times, but the show pulls it all together nicely come the end, concluding on a rather unforgettable note that suggests the best may have been yet to come for this series.
Mar 30, 2016Those who are interested in history the degree of caution has to be held when considering a movie or television series as a source of information. In many cases the term based on actual events or something similar indicates that there is very little about what is to follow actually is real. Somewhere between that extreme and an accounting of true facts lies the docudrama, something that is primarily a source of entertainment although it typically contains an historical background pulled from history. One of the best of these can be found in the WGN series space Manhattan with just concluded second and lamentably final season. Based on the events occurring in the top-secret Manhattan project of World War II, the series considers the lives of the men and women involved in the race to create the first atomic bomb. Although some after historical figures are depicted most on amalgam of several individuals. The focus of the story is not the science that was created there all the men that would make nuclear physics into a practical science. It is about the emotional sacrifice and psychological strain that living in a completely secret environment for prolonged period of time can impose upon a human being. If you read the history books there might be a notation that family for prolonged Los Alamos, a town built by the core of our engineers in the middle the wastelands of Nevada. His greatest strength is showing how families were affected and even torn apart by the need for secrecy. Are staunchly individualistic scientist thrive most in a community the information is shared react when put under the control of the military determined to impose levels of security really ever before used. Admittedly this is the kind of a story that cannot go on indefinitely as the period of time in Los Alamos was limited to a very short number of years. It is two seasons this masterful creation by show runner Sam Shaw told a satisfying story as completely as possible. In the clash between science and military objectives there is always another force of ring above them both, the politicians. United States is in the midst of an unparalleled conflict, World War II, and the fate of the free world was indeed on the line. One thing that has been stress from the beginning of the series is that every minute that goes by a number of men have been killed defending their country. This put the type of pressure on the signs his that they have never felt before and the familiar pace of innovation will push for those demanding immediate results. As a result the scientific head of the project, J. Robert Oppenheimer (Daniel London) oversees a group of scientists almost as unstable as the nuclear material they handle. Initially the main design that was being considered was a plutonium gun like device that was smashed two passes plutonium together to initiate fission. This was dubbed, Thin Man because of the necessary long cylindrical shape. The head of this group was Dr. Reed Akley (David Harbour), was finally forced to admit that proponents of the blog design correct and Thin Man could not be made ready to work on time. All along Dr. Frank Winter (John Benjamin Hickey) had been working on a different design, implosion there was fear of explosives charges would simultaneously compress a massive plutonium. Because of Franks insistence on his design being more feasible he fell out of favor with those already in charge. When the decision was finally made that implosion would have to be the primary source of their efforts very bright and ambitious young scientist, Dr. Charlie Isaacs (Ashley Zukerman) is promoted to the head of the working phase of the project. His home life was already the a collapse with his wife, Abby (Rachel Brosnahan) shaping under all the restrictions and the laws from her husband concerning not only his work but also of his extramarital involvements. Adding to the ever-growing stress depicted in season two was the appointment of a new military officer with oversight of the operation, Colonel Emmett Darrow (William Peterson). Theres to a strictly enforced chain of command populated by military personnel defines an unprecedented degree of difficulty in managing a group of civilian scientists and their families. He also sees the acquisition of the Atomic Bomb to be the divinely granted destiny of the United States. There are those who might be quick to minimize the importance of the docudrama format. All admittedly this is not a reliable source of historical information it does cover something of crucial importance that history books inevitably omit; the human sacrifice behind the historical event. No one would argue that the Manhattan Project was a true watershed moment for mankind. It ushered in a new form of science that it only been theoretical for decades before. It opened the way to an understanding of the universe unmatched the dawn of time yet it also ushered in a period of fear and distrust, the Cold War and arms race. In the midst of all this world changing activity will regular human beings, albeit some incredibly high IQs. They may be able to grasp the effect of smashing atoms together will understand the need for neutrons on the subatomic level, but as this series so aptly demonstrates they were men and women subject to the same foibles as the rest of us. They had marital problems not only due to the secrecy of their work but to the all too common need for love and companionship. The science is often discussed in many times it is more accurate than you might think that the true strength of this program has always been its concentration and character development. Somewhat like Frank can be found in any corporation. He is certain he knows a better way to do things but the management is just that the track they are on is the best one. Charlie is an archetype of the young man just coming into long-established group with an understanding that surpasses many of them. His ability to grasp the complex equation a short time may astound his fellow scientists but is also the cause of much jealousy. Even today but young man is put over others of long-standing as their boss resentments are bound to ignite. The pacing of the series is deliciously methodical which is in contrast to the high degree of pressure the characters are under to produce the weapon. It is known that the Nazis have been working on your own atomic bomb and was not idle speculation as to what would happen to the world today be the first to succeed. When the central themes this story is constantly present it really openly discussed; the responsibility of scientists for the effects their work to have on people. Considering that the end product of this story is a matter of historical fact is remarkable how so much tension and drama to be created when the ultimate result is set. There is an intimacy to so many of the scenes that they very well could have taken place on the Broadway stage. War has destroyed most of the world, egos clash within the officially nonexistent town of Los Alamos but the most intense displays of emotion are found in the individuals clank together and their own nuclear reaction.
Mar 01, 2016Great story, in an evocative historical setting. The human factor together with bold brains can produce the ultimate bomb or waste millions dollars. Fascinating subjec! A must see!
Dec 19, 2015Sam Shaw has created a taut, intelligent, thought-provoking drama about a semi-fictionalized version of the Manhattan Project that built the first atomic bomb. The narrative deals with the ethical/moral issues faced by the participants in this project and what it means for our world. This series covers the start of the National Security state and how it became entwined with the military industrial complex. Do we really have freedom if it is hijacked in the name of security? Manhattan has an excellent cast who bring powerful performances to propel this explosive story forward. Even though this season ends with the first atomic test at Trinity, there is so much more to explore in Season 3. So I look forward to hearing that WGN has renewed this brilliant series!
Dec 01, 2015it's good. however season two's first half is a long winded for me. it picks up finally when a suicide happens creating much change in the direction.
Jan 07, 2015Can't wait for the second season!