'Manh(A)ttan: Season One'
(Michael Chernus, Christopher Denham, Olivia Williams, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / LGF)
Overview: 'Manh(A)ttan: Season One' is set against the backdrop of the greatest clandestine race against time in the history of science with the mission to build the world's first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Flawed scientists and their families attempt to co-exist in a world where secrets and lies infiltrate every aspect of their lives.
DVD Verdict: 'Manh(A)ttan: Season One' is, as I'm sure you are all well aware at this juncture of life, a semi-fictional depiction of what happened in Los Alamos, New Mexico during World War II. Also, as you probably know, the Manhattan Project was a research and development project for the first Atomic Bomb, thus the name of the show Manh(A)ttan with the middle A stylized as separated.
The series follows the lives of the families living in a strict, military controlled, village in the middle of the desert. In that place paranoia rules. Because of the big secret (the development of the "gadget" as they call it) everyone is considered a possible leak or a suspect for espionage. Their correspondence to the outside world is controlled, the army makes random checks to them and their belongings, they even have to take polygraph tests if they seem more suspicious than others.
The production has nothing to envy from a feature film. Attention to detail. Countless extras and above all a remarkable cinematography. The way they make you feel the "space", the atmosphere of this place is extraordinary. Not only that, but portraying the oppressive nature of operating under bare bones conditions, with security and surveillance pervading every aspect of life and where military rigidity rules the roost is simply mesmerizing.
Further than that, displaying that even the brightest and most talented scientists can succumb to the human flaws of envy and greed are brought to the fore like nothing before it. Also, demonstrating that political expediency and bureaucratic territoriality cannot be easily excised from even the most crucial government activities is always a spectre that hovers here in 'Manh(A)ttan.'
I hope it will continue on in seasons to come in the same fashion and not consume itself in many subplots and little dramas that will make it tiresome. I mean, even in any diluted form, the truth is always painful, but if we had not done this we would not be here now! End of argument. With all our faults as a nation we are still the best of the lot. Get real people and thank Oppenheimer and his valiant crew for what they did so brilliantly!
OK, personal rant over. Anyway, if you don't expect a big revealing historically accurate telling of the Manhattan Project you can sit back and be entertained. It's obvious care has been given to create a "possibly true" alternative telling of this unique time and place. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Ground Zero: Bringing the Bomb to Screen
P.O. Box 1663: Creating a City that Didn't Exist
"Now I Am Become Death": J. Robert Oppenheimer
Recreating an Era: "Manhattan" Costume Design
Commentaries with cast and Crew