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Chernobyl (miniseries)

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14 hours ago, Trebla said:

The Soviets had asked the West Germans for a robot to try and collect the graphite on the worst of the 3 roofs. However, the Soviets lied about the level of the radiation so the robot was always doomed to fail. That's what he was so pissed about, after everything that has happened, the Central Committee is STILL toeing the "This doesn't happen in the Soviet Union" line.

Thanks!  Makes sense now.  I wonder if we see this character's faith in the party fade in the final episode.  

I'm already bummed that there's only one more episode.

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I've been on holiday but this show was top of my catch-up list. Episode 3 thoughts. This show is really doing the "HBO of" on the disaster genre in the way they have with cop (the wire), westerns (deadwood) fantasy (GOT) genres. It is at it's heart a disaster show with all the tropes of sacrifice, stupidity, science and horror but in such a gripping and startlingly "mature" ("intelligent and dramatic") way.

Case in point with the wife. Utterly idiotic and frustrating to have her recklessly ignore very good advice but the way it is handled/acted upon is such that you understand the wife a) doesn't understand the dangers (most of the staff probably don't) and b) she loves her husband and can't watch him die alone.

The acting is top notch. Harris is great as frustrated scientist/underling. I loved his sassy "has a half life of 24,000 years do i think it's safe to say the problem will last more than a Lifetime". It justs makes episode 1's opening scene that more painful knowing what ultimately happens. I also liked the "you are naive enough to not be a threat" from skarsgard.

While they portray the politicians and military leaders as a bit useless the depiction of the working class has been great and a reminder there were aspects of communism that were noble. The miners were brilliant and I loved what they did to the coal minister.

On 5/23/2019 at 9:26 AM, Ramsay B. said:

Yes, a horrifying but excellent episode. Learning that the effects of radiation sickness recedes for a day or two then basically goes into overdrive(at least in severe cases) was particularly hellish. 

Amazing how close this was to being a much bigger disaster too. The perfect storm of incompetence, government denial, chaos, etc. Pretty fucking scary. 

I knew the actress playing the wife, Jessie Buckley, looked familiar. She was a standout in Taboo, and I need to watch Beast now.

Yeah, the radiation pretty much stops all of your cells from dividing meaning when they die there aren't any replacements. So the symptoms progress as the various life cycles of certsin types of cell come to the end of their life cycle (skin, blood, muscle, liver etc all have very different lifespans). 

Beast is a very good film although i personally wished it had ended 10 minutes earlier as I'd have preferred that ending. Others love the actual ending though.

On 5/24/2019 at 12:01 AM, Ramsay B. said:

From a quick search it is said that a person who is internally contaminated, like the husband, can spread the radioactive material through his blood, sweat or urine. So hugging and touching him was in fact somewhat dangerous. 

There's a reason they had lead coffins and a cement burial. Again it feels like sci-fi horror but this actually happened.

 

On 5/23/2019 at 2:27 PM, Trebla said:

What made the body horrors even more terrifying was the reveal that they couldn't even give the worst victims pain medicine because of the breakdown of cell structure.The agony they must have felt is the thing of nightmares. 

Honestly a bullet to the head would be the humane thing in those cases. I'm wondering if anyone will take that option if there are others who are exposed that badly. I wasn't sure whether the 3 volunteers from epidode 2 were amongst the dead in episode 3?

What is surprising is the relatively low body count from the disaster. I guess long term deaths are ongoing, hard to prove and may be hidden/lowered for political reasons. It's still terrifying to think the explosion they averted from episode 2 could have occurred.  

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Watched ep3 last night and just thinking about what those guys went through has truly stuck with me. That one shot of the black nose and his rotting body is going to take me a while to forget. 

The thought that the explosion mentioned in episode 2 might have ever happened is absolutely terrifying, the sheer damage it would have caused is immense. We are very lucky in fact that it didn't happen. 

The one big takeaway from the show however is how the show deals with peoples perceptions of the truth. From that first episode there is an effort by everyone to install their own version of truth on events, even if they are obviously wrong. It becomes apparent that most people are more concerned with protecting themselves from liability than they are of doing the right thing or even worrying about what is happening. While we can all stand back and think this is a symptom of a communist system, I have seen these parallels many times in my working life in numerous companies. 

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48 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Watched ep3 last night and just thinking about what those guys went through has truly stuck with me. That one shot of the black nose and his rotting body is going to take me a while to forget. 

The thought that the explosion mentioned in episode 2 might have ever happened is absolutely terrifying, the sheer damage it would have caused is immense. We are very lucky in fact that it didn't happen. 

The one big takeaway from the show however is how the show deals with peoples perceptions of the truth. From that first episode there is an effort by everyone to install their own version of truth on events, even if they are obviously wrong. It becomes apparent that most people are more concerned with protecting themselves from liability than they are of doing the right thing or even worrying about what is happening. While we can all stand back and think this is a symptom of a communist system, I have seen these parallels many times in my working life in numerous companies. 

Totally agree and i think the human element is perhaps the most dangerous. The scene where both the scientists were saying the math didn't add up for why the meltdown happened and one of them said the only way to the truth was in talking to those involved - not on a piece of paper. I don't think the dying scientists were to blame beyond their faith the red button would work. I'm curious if the cause turns out to be corner cutting on the "red button" akin to the geiger counters that only measured to a certain level despite it being clear protocols were designed to respond to much higher counts.

Also wonder whether we knew such disasters were possible before it happened or if this was just in hindsight.

HBO/sky Atlantic definitely need to sign up the writers/directors for follow up shows. Maybe they could do other disasters (given the sane level of research) or I'd trudt them with something completely different based on the talent on show here

Edit: wow, i just looked up writers previous work and just shows you can't judge too much on previous output. The guy did comedies like scary movie and hangover. Clearly he was working in wrong genre. Makes me think the so-called unknowns in lord of the rings may be better than their cv suggests

Edited by red snow
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i was really taken by the self sacrifice displayed on the show by so many people.  My guess is that such a socialist society is built on the idea of self sacrifice and the good of the many over the self.

I would guess that a similar incident in the west wouldn’t result in the same level of selflessness, with our focus on the self. Instead the government would be bankrupted from being constantly sued.

Both systems have their flaws and strengths I guess 

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54 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

i was really taken by the self sacrifice displayed on the show by so many people.  My guess is that such a socialist society is built on the idea of self sacrifice and the good of the many over the self.

I would guess that a similar incident in the west wouldn’t result in the same level of selflessness, with our focus on the self. Instead the government would be bankrupted from being constantly sued.

Both systems have their flaws and strengths I guess 

They'd probably have to offer huge cash incentives and/or force armed/rescue Services to do it. They certainly couldn't get away with lying about it in the long term.

I hadn't thought about litigation but i imagine you are correct that if it had happened it would bankrupt a country. I guess they'd try and worm out by saying anyone who moved within the affected area after the plant was built knew of potential risks. That or they'd simply have to refuse to pay out. It will be interesting to see what happened in Chernobyl and Fukushima in this regard.

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I had meant to watch this as it showed up but I ended up watching all the episodes in one sitting. Unlike most of you, I was 32 years old when it happened and over the years have read many stories about the incident. I basically knew about almost all the events shown in the series, including the fact humans had to be used because machines couldn't be.

Is the series finished, or is there another episode still? I looked up IMDb to check the cast and I see 5 episodes being mentioned. So one more still?

I think the most striking thing about the series is how it evoked horror so well. Surely the sound of a geiger counter has never been used so effectively before. Another thing the series does very well is show how short the critical timeline was. 

I was surprised at how nasty the presentation of Gorbachev was. He's always been a popular figure in the West. Not very sympathetic at all. 

I was also surprised there was no mention of how badly constructed the plant was, and how poorly trained the staff were. You only got a hint of it when the dying operators are being interviewed and the 'senior' engineer turns out to be 25. At the end of Episode 4 you hear the assessment that human error played a large part in the accident, and other than plant managers being in total denial about what happened at the moment things happened (understandable, because nothing remotely bad as this had ever happened before) more could have been done to bring this out.

But overall, my goodness this is gripping drama.

Many of you might not know this, but the other three reactors continued to be run for years, because the Ukraine desperately needed the power. The last unit was shut down in 2000.

I want to listen to the podcasts as well.

Btw, since I haven't listened to the podcasts, does anyone know if the Legasov character was a real person, and did he commit suicide?

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12 hours ago, Heartofice said:

i was really taken by the self sacrifice displayed on the show by so many people.  My guess is that such a socialist society is built on the idea of self sacrifice and the good of the many over the self.

I would guess that a similar incident in the west wouldn’t result in the same level of selflessness, with our focus on the self. Instead the government would be bankrupted from being constantly sued.

Both systems have their flaws and strengths I guess 

The creator got into this on the podcast a bit and said something to the effect of "This could only have happened in the USSR."  And he seemed to mean that in the West there would have been much more resistance to trying things like "we need three guys who know the plant to go down in there" or "we need 400 minors."  Not just the leadership mentality but the worker mentality too.  

 

1 hour ago, Fragile Bird said:

Btw, since I haven't listened to the podcasts, does anyone know if the Legasov character was a real person, and did he commit suicide?

 

He was a real person for sure although the main female physicist is not.  Fairly certain he did kill himself.  

And confirmed just one episode left.

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Yes, he was and he did. They don’t know for sure that he killed himself at that exact time, but it was so close to it and on the anniversary that they assumed it was intentional. That’s why the first time stamp says “two years and one minute earlier”.

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Episode 4 was also great. 

Those scenes on the rooftop with the workers running for 90 seconds, struggling to really do anything worthwhile and then falling over, I couldn't handle it, it was so unbelievably tense. Just that sense that the odds of getting anything done were insurmountable. 

I was a bit surprised they cast Barry Koeghan ( who I've loved in a number of movies) in a role as the young animal disposal guy, as I assumed he was an american. His accent seemed kind of off and it annoyed me as I watched. I now realise he's Irish, so all is forgiven. I mean its totally fine that all these Russians and Ukranians have British accents right?

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I wondered where they got the figure of 90 seconds from ... I mean, I doubt they’ll be completely fine. So how many years off of their life was deemed acceptable?

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The creator got into this on the podcast a bit and said something to the effect of "This could only have happened in the USSR."  And he seemed to mean that in the West there would have been much more resistance to trying things like "we need three guys who know the plant to go down in there" or "we need 400 minors."  Not just the leadership mentality but the worker mentality too. 

 

This is true, and also applies to WWII: would Britain or the United States have accepted almost 30 million deaths as the price of stopping Hitler, not the 1/30th figure they actually paid (combined)?

That said, it's also worth noting that the design flaw in Chernobyl did not exist in Western nuclear power stations, which had pressure containment vessels fitted which would have prevented the core exploding. Three Mile Island and Fukushima would have been massively worse in those cases.  The Soviet demand for lots of cheap nuclear power stations quickly did create the problem in the first place.

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3 hours ago, DaveSumm said:

I wondered where they got the figure of 90 seconds from ... I mean, I doubt they’ll be completely fine. So how many years off of their life was deemed acceptable?

I think they said earlier in the episode it would half their life expectancy and 2 minutes or more would result in the type of death we saw in episode 3. So it's pretty bad for people under 30 to be lucky to make it to 60.

5 hours ago, Heartofice said:

Episode 4 was also great. 

Those scenes on the rooftop with the workers running for 90 seconds, struggling to really do anything worthwhile and then falling over, I couldn't handle it, it was so unbelievably tense. Just that sense that the odds of getting anything done were insurmountable. 

 

 It was really well done, with the geiger counters acting like a speeding up timer of the 90s. It also felt longer than 90s which would reflect their experience. I also can't help but think I've seen news footage of this scene as it happened? That or I've seen it in documentaries (i was only 5 when it happened so my memory is hazy at best) from an air shot.

 

8 hours ago, DaveSumm said:

Yes, he was and he did. They don’t know for sure that he killed himself at that exact time, but it was so close to it and on the anniversary that they assumed it was intentional. That’s why the first time stamp says “two years and one minute earlier”.

That's even more tragic that it's based on a real person. Him and those volunteers deserve statues and state honours - no idea if that was the case though

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14 hours ago, DaveSumm said:

I wondered where they got the figure of 90 seconds from ... I mean, I doubt they’ll be completely fine. So how many years off of their life was deemed acceptable?

To add to what was said above they got into this a bit too on the podcast.  It's like they have a ballpark idea of how much radiation the human body can take.  And it's more or less cumulative.  So for radiation techs in the healthcare industry, for example, there's a calculation of how much you could take per year if you worked in that job your whole career and still probably be OK.

This 90 seconds, given the environment, was a similar sort of situation.  But I believe they were told the should never expose themselves to any additional radiation the rest of their lives after that stint on the roof.   

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On 5/30/2019 at 3:21 PM, Werthead said:

This is true, and also applies to WWII: would Britain or the United States have accepted almost 30 million deaths as the price of stopping Hitler, not the 1/30th figure they actually paid (combined)?

That said, it's also worth noting that the design flaw in Chernobyl did not exist in Western nuclear power stations, which had pressure containment vessels fitted which would have prevented the core exploding. Three Mile Island and Fukushima would have been massively worse in those cases.  The Soviet demand for lots of cheap nuclear power stations quickly did create the problem in the first place.

Even the difference of the pressure vessel not being present was far from the only failing in the design. RBMK reactors were known to be seriously unstable and liable to have weird power fluctuations; the reactor by it's very nature was unpredictable and difficult to control in some circumstances.
In the test they ran they nearly shut down the reaction completely by mistake, and struggled to get it back up to power. In fact the only way they could get it back to a power level they wanted was to remove nearly every control rod leaving it dangerously uncontrollable. They also messed up with the water pumps, ignored alarms, and a lot of other aspects which meant the reaction wasn't behaving how they expected.

The final nail in the coffin was really the SRAM button being pressed. The control rods caused a massive power spike, flash-boiled the little water in the core, melted the fuel channels and jammed the rest of the control assembly. Most other reactors I imagine would have survived that button press, not this design. 

In fact in Ep 4 they actually cover how this problem was known about; it had happened already but nobody bothered to handle the lessons learnt from that. And of course in good old Soviet Russia the truth was never fully available to most people; they could never admit their design was flawed.

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It has been kind of remarkable how little overall internet coverage this show has received given how many sites that don't even really do TV at all started to feel obligated to do Game of Thrones clickbait.  

But in the last few days I've seen several good write-ups of this.

All the Random, Interesting Things You Need to Know about Chernobyl Before the Finale - Vice

The Enduring Horror of Chernobyl - New Republic

Chernobyl and Communism - American Conservative

One more from Inverse

 

 

Edited by Triskele

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That final episode was the best of the bunch.

The entire concept of what happened is staggering.

Edited by Jaxom 1974

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You know, I was totally expecting the trial, but after episode one I'd not really even considered getting shown a depiction of the explosion like we got in the finale, and now I'm so glad that we did.  

Just a brilliant mini series.  I feel like it should be required viewing for humanity.  

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Stellar ending to a superb series. My one and only criticism was that the guy who directed the test that caused the disaster (can't recall the name) was a bit over-the-top in his nastiness. Maybe the sources confirm he was an asshole, but it would've been interesting to see some more nuances to his character.

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I assume that he was an asshole and there was no nuance to his character.   He was a product of 25 years in the system and he had figured out how to get ahead ... do what you are told and don't ask questions, and he expected his subordinates to do the same.    He couldn't fathom anything going wrong because it was not allowed to in the Soviet Union.    It was probably why the previous safety tests failed as well, due to much less critical problems that were ignored in order to meet a schedule.

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