Manhattan: Season 1
Blu-ray + Digital
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Set against the backdrop of the greatest race against time in the history of science--the mission to build the world's first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico--MANHATTAN follows the project's brilliant but flawed scientists and their families as they attempt to coexist in a world where secrets and lies infiltrate every aspect of their lives.
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The Manhattan series is terrific. I love period shows that take a little history and make it dramatic fiction, in other words, they breathe life into the subject, make it interesting. If you like Manhattan (2014-2015) you might like Granite Flats (2013-2015) or Taken (2002). All three series are set during WWII or shortly after. They are about secret government programs. Manhattan is about making the first atomic bomb, like the movie Fat Man and Little Boy (1989). Taken is about UFOs and alien visitors, sort of a fictionalized version of Project Blue Book. And Granite Flats is about the experimental drug program MKUltra (the CIA mind control program).
All three series have great story arcs. They start and finish strong and have great middles. One difference is the smoking and drinking. There is smoking and drinking in almost every scene in Manhattan, which was set during the era when soldiers received packs of cigarettes with their meal rations. Ever been around a chain smoker? In Taken there’s a scene where Crawford says his doctor prescribed cigarettes for hypertension. Imagine that. I don’t remember any smoking in Granite Flats, but that might just be my poor memory.
If the above don’t sound interesting you might like a couple of space race shows. I spent a month on a space race binge. First I read Space by James A. Michener. Then I watched two movies, The Right Stuff (1983) and Apollo 13 (1995), and then two great series, From Earth to the Moon (1998) and The Astronauts Wives Club (2015). They’re a great combination.
If the above shows don’t sound interesting here are a few of the series I really enjoyed watching more than once. I love good miniseries like Band of Brothers (2001), Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000), Into the West (2005), Lonesome Dove (1989), Pride and Prejudice (1995), Taken (2002) and The 10th Kingdom (2000) because they have beginnings, middles and endings, like a good novel.
Other shows I’ve really enjoyed include Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), Breaking Bad (2008-2013), Cowboy Bebop (1998), Downton Abbey (2010-2015), Firefly (2002), Game of Thrones (2011-2019), The IT Crowd (2006-2013), Jericho (2006-2008), Lost (2004-2010), Merlin (2008-2012), Rome (2005-2007), Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (2011), Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010), Stargate: SG-1 (1997-2007), Stargate: Atlantis (2004-2009), Star Trek The Original Series (1966-1969) and Star Trek Voyager (1995-2001). I didn’t list any contemporary series I’m following that don’t have an end date yet, not conducive to binge watching from beginning to finish, or the hundreds of other fantasy and science fiction shows I’ve watched.
If you like reading try some of my favorite fantasy and sci-fi authors: Richard Adams, Palo Bacigulupi, Suzanne Collins, Abe Evergreen, Diana Gabaldon, Hugh Howey, George Martin, Brandon Sanderson, John Scalzi, and Andy Weir.
Most of the characters are fictional, but there are cameo appearances by some of the prominent nuclear scientists who laboured (under considerable pressure) to produce the weapons that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and whose successors are contained in nuclear arsenals around the world today). For those of us who are fascinated by WWII, by the interaction among the military, the intelligence community and a bunch of fairly naïve, if brilliant, academics, and by the terrain of New Mexico [admittedly, this is a niche market].... this series is one of the best in recent memory.
Not living in the US, I have not been able to view Season 2 on TV (I would expect that it would interest only a very small market in Australia). I am waiting for Amazon to release it on video, and I will order immediately. I must find out what has happened to Frank, how Charlie will fare in his new role, whether Meeks will be discovered, whether Charlie's wife Abby will return to Boston .... and, of course, what project will be made on production of "the gadget".