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Thread: Chernobyl

  1. #26
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Third grave from left.
    Managed to watch the first episode very late yesterday.

    The sets. The props. Good damn! Really impressed with that. And the constant smoking x_x - boy was that shit annoyingly popular back then (kind of what made me a non-smoker). The show definitely brings back some memories.

    Many characters are immediately recognizable so far. Very promising.

    Liked, more than i expected, the depiction of disbelief from Anatoly. Usually he is depicted as a complete flailing retard - now there were some well timed subtle "triggers" for him to miss what is actually going on. Reminded me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xQeXOz0Ncs ("Who Destroyed Three Mile Island?" by Nickolas Means). Events there, with the biases from knowing the outcome, can also make one see the people in charge as idiots.

    Still felt a bit overplayed - but way better than the usual crap.

    -----------------------------------------------
    raph: thanks for sharing - i will leave that till later.

    -----------------------------------------------
    Completely off topic, but while browsing the twitter link from ZB i noticed this:
    The initial "Wait a minute, why are kids going to school on a Saturday?" response quickly gave way to "Shit, that's right! We didn't switch to the 5-day week until 1989!"
    Wait what? I have no memory of this. Had to ask my parents ... turns out there indeed was switch between 1988 and 1989. I do remember a reform at that time, because it caused some inconvenience to me, but i have no memory of the week length change that accompanied it. Bizarre.

    -----------------------------------------------
    Next episode hopefully ... in a few hours.

  2. #27
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Third episode done and I still can't get over how well done and authentic everything is. The scenes in the hospital are spot on. The hospitals really were that squalid (well, some more than others) and you really did have to bribe people (especially the doctors).

    Quote Originally Posted by ZylonBane View Post
    If you'd like the perspective of an actual (former) Soviet person on each episode, here ya go:
    https://twitter.com/SlavaMalamud/sta...29943297265664
    Yes, this guy gets it! As he says:

    When I watched “Chernobyl” — and 1986 was a very memorable year for me, and I recall all these events very well — I was shocked by how little there was to find fault with. And this applies not just to the interiors, the clothes, and so on. It’s clear that the people behind this show worked very seriously to bring it all together, and it’s amazing how authentic the characters feel, in terms of Soviet mentality, as far as is possible for Western screenwriters. It's my understanding that the person who wrote this is an American without any ties to Russia, so it’s surprising how believable the show’s characters are and how convincing their behavior is.
    That's the perfect word to describe how I've felt about the series: not just surprised but completely and utterly shocked. In one of the scenes there's a wall rug hanging on a clothesline. I had the exact same soviet mass-produced rug on the wall next to my bed and I would see it every time I went to sleep. It's like they made the series using things from my life and it really feels like time travel half of the time.

  3. #28
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Third grave from left.
    Finished watching it.

    It deteriorated in the middle to final parts a bit (idiotic nonsense physics + unnecessarily excessive drama exploitation).

    However - the good parts still outweight the bad. So, it was a good show in my book (just ignore/skip the bullshit).

  4. #29
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Just finished watching the last two episodes. Wow, what a ride. It's impressive in many ways, but I think the best part is how understated everything is. Mostly you're just shown the people, their actions, and the conditions they are in, and you have to connect the dots yourself. And I think that the authenticity is very helpful to viewers who don't have the cultural knowledge to understand the background everything. An intelligent viewer will consciously or unconsciously pick up on all the things that are not stated outright. One look around the liquidators' camp tells you more than a long expose about their living conditions and the nature of their work. Which of course was not all about the heroic things that got made into near myths later. And they don't need to tell you that. They just put the biorobots side by side with the animal control guys and you get the picture.

    It also helps that they stay very close to the actual events, as they happened. Of course there's some artistic license taken for dramatic purposes, but to my surprise I actually found that some of the things that sounded way over the top were portrayed nearly verbatim in some cases. For example, while a few opinion articles have said it's very unlikely that someone would have threatened to have their subordinates shot, because executions had largely stopped at that point, there's this bit I found in the book Voices from Chernobyl (which the show's writers also heavily relied on):

    One guy, I think he was from Leningrad, began to protest. They told him they'd drag him before a military tribunal. The commander said exactly that before the troops: 'You'll go to jail or be shot.'
    And the drama they do use, they use incredibly well. And they have just the right actors for it -- not some Hollywood stars, but people who actually plausibly look the part. And they made the absolutely right decision to have them speak plain English instead of horribly mangled Russian or some caricature of a Russian accent. It's so well researched and so well executed that it's no wonder it got so much praise. I went in there expecting another overhyped show with more flash than substance, but it actually ended up being an education and a humbling experience for me. I learned about things I never gave much thought about before. And of course it's very relevant in this day and age. Not just because of the climate crisis that still gets denied in face of overwhelming evidence, but also because of the general war on truth that's going on right now.

    Finally, one brilliant thing about it was how they built up the hero narrative and then at the very end exposed that it was lies all along -- (the character of) Legasov wasn't a hero, he was just another scientist toeing the party line, like so many others. And that was crucial to drive home the point that it was never about any one person. Anyone who was high enough in the system had to be compromised to some extent and anyone with integrity never rose high enough in the system. What mattered was that the system was rotten to the core. And these are the things that always happen when personal interests and ideology are put above everything else.

    Now onto listening to the Chernobyl podcast about making of the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUeH...AtGdoa3wd3lp9n
    Last edited by Starker; 14th Jun 2019 at 16:15.

  5. #30
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Third grave from left.
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    Now onto listening to the Chernobyl podcast about making of the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUeH...AtGdoa3wd3lp9n
    Thanks for sharing - would have probably missed thous even existed.

  6. #31
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    I just watched the first two episodes. Jezus, what a boring show. I can't believe anyone enjoys this.

    I'm two hours in, and there haven't been any gunfights.
    No car chases either.
    A helicopter crashed, that was about all the excitement we got.

    Supposedly half of Europe ran the risk of being contaminated. Thousands of people could die. But they're all Ruskies and Europeans. No American lives at stake. So who gives a fuck ? Let them foreigners burn, I'd say. They could have put some US scientists in the show. Those could have put out the fire or something. Be the heroes. That would have been a good plot.

    No love stories. They could at least have the male and female scientist fall in love.
    And why are all the actors ugly ? If you need to have an older female scientist, why go for Emily Watson ? They could have cast Julia Roberts or Halle Berry or even Charlize Theron. Those ladies are 60+ years old, but at least they are easy on the eye.
    No humour either. Two hours without any jokes. I understand that the fate of Europe was on the line. But in GoT the whole world was at risk because of the white walkers, and they were able to put some good humor in that show. (Edit: we got miner dicks in E03, that was funny. Good).

    Talking about GoT. If there was so much radiation there, why don't we see any mutated animals ? GoT had their undead polar bear when the team went beyond the wall, in season 7. This show could use some mutated bears too. Or mutated Siberian tigers or something. Missed opportunity.

    The only thing I liked about this show was the meetings with that dude with the port-wine stain on his head. He was pretty cool. He reminded me of Trump. Totally cool and totally in control.

    Well. Three more episodes to go. I know this isn't a super-hero movie. But when this non-action continues, and there's so much radiation in the air, I think the script could use the sudden appearance of some Marvel heroes.
    Last edited by Gryzemuis; 16th Jun 2019 at 09:15.

  7. #32
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    For every EvaUnit02, there's a Gryzemuis. The rest of us lie between them, forever assaulted by their public airings of self-righteous indignation.

  8. #33
    El Shagmeister
    Registered: Jul 2000
    Location: Under your fingernails.
    You're funny.

  9. #34
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    A few people (a set of, let's say, n) find creative ways to reframe their Weltschmerz without being knobs. Unfortunately, after reading this, that number just became n-1.

  10. #35
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    You get a +1 for the gratuitous philosophical German word.

    ...I'm not making fun of you. I mean it. It's a good word.

  11. #36
    El Shagmeister
    Registered: Jul 2000
    Location: Under your fingernails.
    An edge that kills quicker than radiation. Watch the jugular, boys.
    Last edited by MrDuck; 16th Jun 2019 at 02:33.

  12. #37
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    For every EvaUnit02, there's a Gryzemuis. The rest of us lie between them, forever assaulted by their public airings of self-righteous indignation.
    Well, between those two, I definitely prefer Gryzemuis's brand of obvious sarcasm. At least it's a little funny.

  13. #38
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    Obviously, I was doing a little trolling. I had seen 2 episodes when I wrote my previous post. I saw another one after that. Gonna watch the last 2 episodes today. It's a good tv-show. Great maybe even. I'm enjoying it. But I don't see why this show would have the highest ratings on the Internet. I do wish people would make more shows like this.

    I knew that both Chernobyl and GoT were made by HBO. But I didn't realize how different they are in some ways.
    During the show I was thinking: "it's amazing that they didn't fuck this up in the usual way". You know, by adding gratuitous violence and action. Adding a love story. Making up more things. Look at GoT. They had a great story there, for the first 5 seaons. GRRM is an asshole, but he does get it how to mix action and non-action. He understands how to not turn things in to another Transformers story/movie. You need surprises, but you also need cliches, otherwise the surprises won't have impact anymore. And good story arcs might be a bit predictable, they are still good story arcs. When Dumb&Dumber got control over the story in season 8, they did exactly what I hated. They forgot about the stories, they forgot about the characters, they forgot about the little details, they forgot about the dialogs. They just put in a lot of action, a lot of violence, great visuals, nail-biting excitement, etc. Oh and GRRM said that Danny had to burn down the city, so they did. HBO let them do that. Even though HBO paid the $100M budget.

    Something like that could have easily happened with Chernobyl. Some smart-ass HBO-executive "using his experience" to make sure Chernobyl would get "even better than it already was". That didn't happen. Thank god.

    I've been reading a little about the series on the net. After all, there aren't any real spoilers. One of the things I did find a bit weird was that it seemed Shcherbina and Legasov were running the show just by themselves. In reality you want multiple people to discuss and make decisions. Ten people know more than two. I had expected every nuclear plant and institution in the USSR send their chief-scientist (because those know best what can be done) and maybe even their director (because they have the highest ranks, and they find themselves important). I found Emily Watson's role (Khomyuk) a bit weird. It turns out there were many scientists involved, and Khomyuk was a fictional character meant to represent all the other scientists. I wish they hadn't done that.

    Also, it turns out the only "action" in the show, the helicopter-crash, was actually exaggerated. A helicopter crashed, but only 2 weeks later, and only because it hit something, not because of radiation. According to plant-personnel who were there at the time, the risk of a 2nd explosion, and its potential impact, was much smaller than the show would make it seem. And now that I think of it, there was a love-story, just not between the main characters, but between the fireman and his wife. So yeah, the show-makers put in a little extra drama. No problem. Still a great show.

  14. #39
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    The helicopter crash in the show also happened because it clipped the crane cable, not because of radiation. But yes, they changed the timing for drama.

    Also, it's much better for dramatic and narrative purposes to have one character to follow instead of showing multiple (in the real world hundreds of) scientists each making a discovery here and finding a solution there.

  15. #40
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    Well, between those two, I definitely prefer Gryzemuis's brand of obvious sarcasm. At least it's a little funny.
    Well, he's a little more self-aware, I'll give him that.

    But sanctimony is sanctimony, regardless of its political leanings. Let's try our best not to be sanctimonious.

  16. #41
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: 1, Rotation: 0
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    You get a +1 for the gratuitous philosophical German word.

    ...I'm not making fun of you. I mean it. It's a good word.
    Bah. Me, I prefer Denkfehler or Verschlimmbesserung.

  17. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    Finally, one brilliant thing about it was how they built up the hero narrative and then at the very end exposed that it was lies all along -- (the character of) Legasov wasn't a hero, he was just another scientist toeing the party line, like so many others. And that was crucial to drive home the point that it was never about any one person. Anyone who was high enough in the system had to be compromised to some extent and anyone with integrity never rose high enough in the system. What mattered was that the system was rotten to the core. And these are the things that always happen when personal interests and ideology are put above everything else.

    I suggest reading the Gulag Archipelago.


    That type of dynamic isn't just a "Chernobyl" thing. It was a defining characteristic of the Soviet societal model. The USSR was an entire society that was politicized: every single aspect of life was about "the party" and "the revolution" (or "the revolutionary party").

    In many ways this created an extremely Darwinian culture. Socialist ideologues were constantly issuing insane directives that went against reality or science. These took forms like impossible production quotas or (my personal favorite) when Lysenko ordered farmers to plant seeds twice as close together in order to increase crop production. More often than not these insane directives resulted in complete disaster and failure: crops failed, train tracks and bridges collapsed under loads, machinery would wear out from lack of maintenance, etc.

    In a normal society people those responsible for the insane orders would have to start new careers in other areas. However, that's impossible when those issuing the orders are party officials. Because it's highly political the #1 directive instead becomes preventing the public from ever having the thought that the glorious industrial revolution might have had a failure.


    So what did they do instead? They'd start arresting engineers they didn't like, farm leaders, etc and torturing them until they would sign confessions for "wrecking" which was the deliberate sabotage of Soviet industry.


    Pure necessity meant punitive dynamic was slowly fading by the 80's but the underlying nature of this entirely politicized society was a constant from Lenin (who first introduced this system of terror-induced political Darwiniasm) until the end of the Soviet Union.

  18. #43
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Dude, just stop. When it comes to the Soviet Union, you have no idea. There isn't a single fellow countryman that I know who hasn't had people in their family executed or sent to Siberia. My own family fought against the Soviet regime and suffered the consequences. This isn't a topic for you to waffle about and pretend you know what you're talking about because you read some things, let alone try to lecture people whose lived experience this is.

  19. #44
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    This might sound like a naive question, but I'll ask anyways.

    So I really want to watch this, especially after reading Starker's posts... but I rarely watch things without my wife, so she has to be on board.

    (If I'm not watching something with her, I'm playing games, reading, etc... I just don't watch stuff by myself very often.)

    I've read this is a really difficult show to watch. Is it just the tension and frustration, or is there any kind of troubling violence/torture/gore that my wife might find off-putting? She can handle serious, intense stuff just fine -- in fact, she prefers more serious films and shows -- but she doesn't easily tolerate long, detailed shots of people torturing/hurting other people or animals. A bit of circumstantial violence or gore is okay, as long as the camera doesn't dwell on it for too long.

    My sense is that Chernobyl will be within range of what she'd tolerate, but I thought I'd ask first since I keep seeing it described as really, really difficult to watch.

  20. #45
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I'll tell you what I think is the worst of it and you can decide. (Technically spoilers of some scenes.)

    The first episode is going to be the plant on fire and the staff & firefighters combating it, kind of in the manner of an action movie, and the radiation will show its initial effects. I didn't find this too gratuitous. I mean they get what look like terrible sunburns, signs of internal bleeding, and vomiting at this stage. By "not too gratuitous" I mean it doesn't wallow in it and plays it straight.

    The second episode will have a big dose of body horror by the end with what radiation has done to the figherfigers' bodies, one in particular. Believe it or not they're usually "romantic" scenes, since his wife does everything she can to stay by his side through it all.

    Episode four is the one following a small team of 3 liquidators (clean up crew) that's been ordered to execute animals and pets. Their first rule is to do it quickly and humanely, and they're not happy to do it. The kid that's just joining this team has a particularly hard time doing it, and we feel his pain. At some points the camera will dwell on him facing a pet, contemplating what he has to do, then the actual moment of execution is heard. While still jolting, it's mercifully off-camera most times.

    Aside from scenes like these, the rest of it is largely personalities confronting each other, and some are portrayed as real assholes or delusional in a context where lives are at stake.
    Last edited by demagogue; 23rd Jun 2019 at 04:17.

  21. #46
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Thank you for the details! I think she'll be able to handle it.

    The animals and pets being executed may be the hardest for her, but if it's filmed so the viewer empathizes with a character having difficulty with it, and the execution moments are mostly off-camera... it won't be her favorite part, but I think she'll accept it in its context.

    Thanks dema!

  22. #47
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    By "not too gratuitous" I mean it doesn't wallow in it and plays it straight.
    Yep, it shows some horrific things, but it doesn't linger on it. And having read Voices from Chernobyl, there are even some worse things they could have put in the show, but didn't.

    In addition to what Dema brought out, there's also some full frontal nudity, but again, the camera doesn't linger.

  23. #48
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2003
    Location: Location, Location
    They're still wearing the fucking hats!

  24. #49
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Safety first.

  25. #50
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Quote Originally Posted by Dia View Post
    I found one of the scariest things about the Chernobyl disaster was how far that radiation extended, how it managed to settle in hot spots across Europe.
    Yes. I'm from the arctic region of Sweden, over 2000 km from Chernobyl, but clouds of radioactivity drifted our way, and for decades you could not eat the local berries, mushrooms or reindeer meat, the radiation levels were unsafe. And we didn't get the worst of it, those clouds only passed us briefly.

    My very lame standard joke about my insomnia was that Chernobyl made me glow in the dark.

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