Meltdown: Three Mile Island [8/10]

It’s a hard ask to cover the 1979 Three Mile Island reactor disaster with fresh material but “Meltdown: Three Mile Island,” a four-part documentary series, does so authoritatively by nabbing a great set of talking heads who were there, by spending a lot of time with ordinary citizens present on the day, and by anchoring the storyline around the tale of Rick Parks, elsewhere in 1979 but a whistleblower on the remediation/decommission activities over ensuing years. Throw in a careful timeline reconstruction, tactical use of actors recreating control room scenes, and a tight, artful script, and this doco could well end up being a university staple intro. Not much new is added to the historic record, and I know pro-nuclear folks will argue with the tenor of it, but I find it to be rather scrupulous with the facts. In fact, it almost understates the drama of the darkest moments of the saga. I particularly enjoyed how neatly director Kief Davidson melded archival reportage, acted scenes, and the various witnesses’ recollections. Meltdown: Three Mile Island is a must-watch documentary on the disaster (financial, not physical) that changed the arc of a technology.

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