WGN America Introduces Its New Series ‘Manhattan’ [TCA 2014]

Manhattan WGN 01

Amongst the new summer series I’m most excited about lies WGN’s second scripted series Manhattan, which takes place in the 1940s as the race against time to create the world’s first atomic bomb is on. The show focuses on the scientists and their families living in Los Almos, a town that doesn’t exist on any map. Throughout the 13 episodes first season, we will navigate these first “nuclear” families’ lives and the secrets they must live with and keep from each other and how they affect them.

WGN held a panel for Manhattan at the Television Critics Association Summer 2014 Press Tour to give us more insight into the series. In attendance were series stars John Benjamin Hickey (Frank Winter), Olivia Williams (Liza Winter), Ashley Zukerman (Charlie Isaacs), Rachel Brosnahan (Abby Isaacs) and Daniel Stern (Glen Babbit), as well as creator/writer/executive producer Sam Shaw and director/executive producer Thomas Schlamme.

Here are some of the highlights from the panel.

– The series is shot in New Mexico.

– They shoot on a ranch so as far as the eye can see, it looks like 1942. Although, Schlamme explained that with the advancement of CGI, it’s a lot easier to create a 1940s show nowadays and make it look real.

– Because the series got a direct order for 13 episodes from WGN, they didn’t feel forced to cram down things in the first episode just to have twists that would make more sense later on in the show. Instead, Schlamme shared that they approached it as they we making a 13-hour movie.

– Although the world itself has been thoroughly researched to make it as close to reality as possible, it is populated with fictional characters.

– We will see the effects of radiation in the show.

Manhattan WGN 02

– While the show doesn’t feel like a family oriented show, it is a show about family and the impact of them living in Los Almos.

– Olivia Williams joked that research is still going on in Los Almos nowadays and that hopefully it meant she would have a job on the show until she’s 80.

– The show poses a lot of complicated question, including what happens if they succeed. The show doesn’t try to answer those questions but does offer characters that ponder them.

– Rachel Brosnahan explained that her character, Abby, is different from anything else she’s ever done including House of Cards and The Blacklist.

– For the character of Abby, coming to Los Almos and every second there is a new discovery and it’s terrifying and exciting at the same time and Brosnahan shared that it’s been great for her to play that.

– Brosnahan recounted a story of some women who came to visit them on set who had lived on Los Almos at the time. She explained that one of them recalled when her mom found out what it was they were doing there and she became violently physically ill. She found out after the Hiroshima bombing took place.

– Fact: It cost $2 billion to run Los Almos in 1944 and the Vice President didn’t even know about it.

Manhattan premieres on Sunday July 27th at 9pm on WGN America. You can watch the trailer for the series below.

Follow me on Twitter @sosandrine and Facebook