Most people probably either learned about The Manhattan Project through real-life (it took place 1939-1947, so living memory for some) or high school history class, but my introduction to it happened around Christmas 1992. We were over at my cousins' house, and they had received the NES game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project. We were playing when some relative came in and saw the box, and asked what the game was about. Only being on the second level or so, our description was fairly vague, I'm sure, but the well-meaning adult took the opportunity to teach us about what "The Manhattan Project" might reference. As it turns out, there are no atomic bombs in the video game, but I learned about it anyway, which gave me a leg-up in eighth grade history.
It seems like only yesterday we were covering WGN's Manhattan panel at TCA, but the series is already debuting, so it's worth another mention, as it really has great potential. Not just for viewers, either, but for the state of New Mexico, where it was filmed. Governor Martinez is "excited that this series will highlight New Mexico's celebrated history and [their] amazing, picturesque landscapes." Natural beauty aside, one of the more entertaining tidbits about filming is that, during location scouting, the producers found an old Army hospital that was about to be torn down. So, they cleaned it of asbestos and it's been working well for their needs!
The characters are another reason to tune in. Not only does it mark the return of Daniel Stern (of Home Alone wet/sticky bandit fame) to the screen, but the drama will also depict a nice variety of 40s personas. The leader of the project is a self-destructive scientist, there is both a female botanist and a female scientist, and there are others who are notably upset about a move from the riches of the northeast to the middle of nowhere. Plus, Manhattan doesn't shy away from the truth of the times, either - Spanish-speaking natives are seen around the area, acting as migrant workers and housekeepers. But, don't keep your eyes peeled for historical figures - although Robert Oppenheimer appears in the pilot, no other notables are found at the beginning of the series.
When you watch the pilot, here are some fun things to be on the lookout for:
- The prices/items in the market
- The technology
- The design styles... of everything from household interiors to hairstyles.
Watch for Manhattan to premiere on WGN America on Sunday, July 27th at 9pm ET/PT. If you're not a regular viewer of the network, look for it on 307 DirecTV, 239 DISH, 568 FiOS, 180/1180 U-Verse, and on other carriers.