At first I wasn’t interested, but I was visiting my cousin and his wife who were discussing if they set the recorder to get the next episode. It was nothing more than that, though I knew they were very interested in most things Russia. (His wife's name is Olga -- you do the math.) I kept thinking about it, and when I got home I figured I might as well check it out. I went to the On Demand setting and watched the first episode -- which was spectacular. Just a seriously impressive production on every level. The cast isn't well-known -- the two most recognizable actors are Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgård -- but everyone is impeccable. And all five episodes are grippingly written and directed by Craig Mazin (best known for highly-successful goofball comedies and his outspoken, public hatred of his college roommate Ted Cruz), and John Renck (who until the past few years had mostly done commercials and music videos) respectively. Their work here is substantive and rich. In fact, surprisingly (if not shockingly) subtle for its scope and epic disaster. And last night I got up to date just finishing episode #2 which was almost as good. It goes into levels that most of the public hasn't known, including how close things came to wiping out all of Europe.
If you get HBO, it's exceedingly worth checking out these first two episode before #3 airs next Monday, May 20. For other folk, put it in your Netflix queue for whenever the DVDs are released.
This trailer gives a good sense of the high quality of the mini-series and overall production, but effective as it is doesn't do it justice. A trailer by its nature quickly cuts together pieces of importance. The show itself is methodical and absorbing.
Here's a good idea of what I mean. This is the sequence where the nuclear reactor explodes. When you think "nuclear reactor explodes" and its aftermath, there are probably a lot of images that immediately come to mind. I'm guessing few to none would be put together like this, or perhaps as impactful. And it only builds from here.