Next month, National Geographic unveils the six-part drama series The Hot Zone, based on Richard Preston’s 1994 bestseller.
The Hot Zone opens with a spectacular opening sequence in which a sick man struggles to walk out of his house and climbs into a cab. Bound for the airport, he boards a plane despite clearly being unwell – he’s covered in welts and vomiting, so it’s no surprise he’s beyond help.
After a memorable opening, the story moves forward to 1989 where we are introduced to Dr. Nancy Jaax (Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife and ER), her husband Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Jaxx (Noah Emmerich, The Americans), who are celebrating thanksgiving when a colony of primates have become sick in a research facility in Virgina, just over 30km from the US Capital. Sample tissues are sent to Nancy who is a researcher with the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and her term of researched set out to discover what it is.
Nancy’s instincts tell her it isn’t a normal infection, despite her colleagues Dr. Peter Jahrling (Topher Grace That ‘70s Show) and Colonel Vernon Tucker (Robert Wisdom, The Wire) assuring her it’s just a simple case of Simian fever. Nancy enlists the help of Sergeant Kyle Ormond (Lenny Platt) to help her examine the sample, which leads to a disastrous discovery that could put more than Nancy’s life in danger. To discover the answers, she may just have to look to the past to find what she’s searching for.
The cast of The Hot Zone is a diverse bunch with Margulies and Emmerich leading the charge and giving dynamite performances that should be acknowledged come awards season.
Throughout its 6 hours, writers and producers Kelly Shouder, Brian Peterson and Jeff Vindar do an excellent job at letting the scary premise do its job while making sure the viewer isn’t lost with all the scientific explanation.
This series isn’t for the faint of heart, and at times can be a little too gory, but nevertheless is a series to check out if you’re looking for a bit of thriller action.
The Hot Zone is available from Friday June 7 on demand, or watch back-to-back on Monday June 10 from 12:30pm AEST on Foxtel, Fetch and the National Geographic app.