The name Chernobyl means many things to a lot of people. To those who were alive at the time, the disaster called to question a cutting-edge source of energy. To those who came after it, the question of how it could directly or indirectly impact their lives always lingered. The timeliness of the Chernobyl disaster was revisited in the wake of the similar 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that was triggered by an earthquake.
Considering all of this, it’s no surprise then that HBO is going ahead with a five-part miniseries that will explore the April 1986 disaster that saw a nuclear reactor in the Ukraine melt down. The incident, which to this day left nuclear radiation to blanket the area, left 31 people dead in the immediate aftermath. According to Variety magazine, “Mad Men” cast member Jared Harris will star as scientist Valery Legasov, who investigated the accident at the request of the Russian government.
“It will engage – and enrage – our viewers, as well as audiences around the world,” Kary Antholis, president of HBO Miniseries and Cinemax Programming, told the entertainment magazine.
According to Gary Nerlinger, an expert on the modern landscape of digital entertainment, the anticipation surrounding this show proves two points: The first is that HBO has a sure-fire winner when “Chernobyl” is released, although filming is still a ways off. The second point is that forward-thinking production studios will have to turn to thoughtful programming such as this to spare themselves from the cord-cutting phenomenon that is currently affecting regular broadcast television.
“Online content streaming companies have it right. The rather uninspired programming currently on broadcast stations can’t compete with what’s being offered up by outlets like Netflix, Hulu and in this case, HBO,” said Nerlinger. “This is about giving people what they want and if that so happens to be a five-part historically-accurate miniseries about one of the worst disasters in the 20th Century, I’ll take it.”
Nerlinger, who is an expert on live-streaming high-definition programming, says studios that want to capitalize on TVs current troubles would do well to strike while the iron’s hot. The digital revolution is coming to your living room and it’s got a total overhaul for television – one of the last few aspects of our lives to not have seen major technological leaps in the past 30 years – in mind.