Review: Why CHERNOBYL Is A Miniseries You Won’t Want To Miss

FIRST IMPRESSION

Boasting excellent production design, phenomenal performances, and a captivating story, HBO's Chernobyl is perhaps one of the best miniseries ever made.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Chernobyl is a new miniseries created by Craig Mazin for HBO that stars Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson. It tells the story of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown in the then Soviet Union, one of the world’s worst man-made disasters in history, and the group of people who were tasked with investigating and neutralizing it. The show debuted at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

The Chernobyl meltdown is perhaps one of the most fascinating events in modern world history, and it translates into an equally captivating viewing experience. On one hand, the event is one of the greatest tragedies ever known, but it also revealed a complex web of political corruption within the USSR and ultimately led to the downfall of said empire. Both aspects of the story are extremely cinematic, especially if you are interested in Cold War politics.

One of the reasons why this miniseries works so well is its unique structure. The first episode deals with the meltdown as it happens and the immediate aftermath. This is one of the most intense and thrilling hours of television you will ever see. The next three episodes explore the aftermath of the incident and the people who helped to resolve it and are truly heartbreaking. The final episode brings it all together with a chronicle of the events that led up to the meltdown in a way that is exciting and suspenseful.

As a direct result of this structure, the miniseries is endlessly intriguing and entertaining. It plays out like a mystery, as you, along with the characters, are trying to figure out what happened and how it can be resolved. Even if you have familiarity with some of the events as they transpired, you will be drawn into the world. The only thing that does require some suspension of disbelief is that a majority of the dialogue is in English with little to no accent, but even this is forgivable after a time.

chernobyl meeting
Stellan Skarsgård, Jared Harris, Emily Watson.
Photo Credit: Liam Daniel/HBO.

The character development in the series is excellent, especially in the middle three episodes in which a majority of the arcs occur. The main characters are Valery Legasov and Boris Shcherbina, a scientist and politician who were on the committee that tried to mitigate the damage caused by the meltdown. Both of their arcs are phenomenal, brilliantly capturing the political implications of the story. The human implications are captured by some supporting characters, including Ulana Khomyuk (a composite character) and Lyudmilla Ignatenko (a wife of one of the firefighters), who have smaller, but impactful parts.

This miniseries has some of the best acting you will see all year. At this point, Jared Harris should just be given the Emmy now. His performance is great, with a ton of emotional nuance and so much power. In an era when political scandals are so common, his performance really captures the fears we all have. Skarsgård is superb too, particularly in later episodes in which he has multiple big and impactful moments in which his delivery is impeccable. Jessie Buckley and Barry Keoghan have supporting turns that are quite small, but effective and necessary nonetheless.

On a technical level, this series is extremely impressive. You can see the amount of money that was put into this show, as the scale of the production is awe-inspiring. It is wonderful that the stigma of television is finally being lifted, and it is series like this that make the difference, as the combination of the big-budget look and close and personal tone will allow the series to connect with wider audiences. The level of detail that was put into capturing the period in which the series is set is truly amazing. Additionally, the way in which suspense is built, particularly during the meltdown and clean-up scenes, is marvelous.

Overall, Chernobyl is one of the most interesting and well-made miniseries to come out in a long time. It will be hard to beat this show’s production values, suspense, and acting come awards season, so make sure to check it out.

Chernobyl debuts on HBO on May 6 at 9pm with an additional episode on subsequent Mondays until the finale. (All five episodes were reviewed.)

TRENDING THIS WEEK

Next on Episode 7 | Couples Therapy | SHOWTIME Documentary Series

Annie questions what they're fighting to hold on to. Lauren and Sarah are devastated, and Sarah can't shake the feeling she's being punished. Orna feels pressure to do more. DeSean is furious and Orna presses Elaine to face her past. All episodes streaming now on SHOWTIME. #CouplesTherapy Subscribe to the SHOWTIME YouTube channel: http://goo.gl/esCMib Don’t…

Coming to the App in October | STARZ

Watch new arrivals whenever, wherever with the STARZ App. #STARZ Subscribe to the STARZ YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/1kalhP0 Get your free trial of the STARZ app: http://starz.tv/WatchSTARZYT Like STARZ on Facebook: http://starz.tv/STARZFacebookYT Follow STARZ on Twitter: http://starz.tv/STARZTwitterYT Follow STARZ on Instagram: http://starz.tv/STARZInstagramYT Visit STARZ on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1mkHKgZ

Arrow | Stephen Amell – Favorite Scenes | The CW

Arrow premieres Tuesday, October 15. Stream free next day only on The CW App! SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About ARROW: After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the South China Sea. Oliver returned home to Starling City, bent on…

Batwoman | Rules | Season Trailer | The CW

Stream new episodes of Batwoman Mondays, free only on The CW App: https://go.cwtv.com/BATgenyt SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About BATWOMAN: Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) soars through the shadowed streets of Gotham as Batwoman. But don’t call her a hero yet. In a city desperate for a savior, she must first overcome her own demons before embracing the call…

Mayans M.C. | Season 2 Ep. 5: Bishop Fight Highlight | FX

Come at the Bishop, better not miss #MayansFX Subscribe now for more Mayans M.C. clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX Mayans M.C. is the next chapter in the Sons of Anarchy saga. Set in a post-Jax Teller world, EZ Reyes is a prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter on the Cali/Mexi border. Once the golden boy with the American…

Supernatural | Alexander Calvert – Powers Lost And Found | The CW

Supernatural premieres Thursday, October 10. Stream free next day only on The CW App! SUBSCRIBE: http://go.cwtv.com/YTSubscribe About SUPERNATURAL: The thrilling and terrifying journey of the Winchester brothers continues as SUPERNATURAL enters its thirteenth season. Sam and Dean have spent their lives on the road, battling supernatural threats that include everything from the demon that killed…

The Deuce (Season 3 Episode 5): Inside The Episode | HBO

The cast and crew discuss Vincent's need for revenge, researching for Paul and Tod's storyline, and Lori's paranoia. #HBO #TheDeuce New Episodes of The Deuce, Mondays at 9:00pm on HBO. Starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Subscribe to the HBO YouTube Channel: https://goo.gl/JQUfqt Don’t have HBO? Order Now: https://play.hbonow.com/ Get More The Deuce: Like on…
Avatar
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here