Few events have changed the world and affected history quite like the beginning of the atomic age. “Hiroshima: 75 Years Later” (8 p.m., History, TV-14) looks back three-quarters of a century and presents archival footage about the building of the atomic bomb, its use on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the days and months after, when teams of American scientists and military technicians visited both cities to measure the bomb’s explosive power and the lingering effects of radiation on Japanese survivors.
“Hiroshima” presents only archival footage and the recorded voices of military officers and scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project or flew the planes that dropped the bombs, as well as the scientists who examined the aftermath. It contains no narrative voice of authority putting events in historical context or musing on how Hiroshima changed the world. That’s a subject for a different film, or films.
It chronicles masses of experts galvanized to build a weapon of hitherto undreamed-of destructive power. Much of their motivation was fear that the Germans, the world leaders in theoretical physics, may have had a head start on a bomb of their own. Even before it was first tested in the American desert in July 1945, some scientists had misgivings about its military use. They knew they had succeeded in building something new and awe-inspiring. They were also aware of its potential for evil.
For a different take on this subject, you might watch “The Atomic Cafe,” a 1982 documentary that collected period postwar government footage about how to prepare for and survive atomic warfare. It can be streamed on Amazon Prime for a 99-cent rental fee. “Cafe” popularized the “duck and cover” films shown to grade-school students who grew up under the shadow of the mushroom cloud. It also features a soundtrack of curious pop, country and gospel songs, like “Atom Bomb Baby” and “Uranium.” The film’s co-director Kevin Rafferty died on July 2.
- “The Osbournes Want to Believe” (9 p.m., Travel, TV-14) reunites Jack, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne to watch clips of paranormal activity. Jack is a “believer,” or at least he’s paid to say that. His parents maintain an air of skepticism, making bat-biting Ozzy the voice of reason here.
- Chefs compete to make memorable dishes from ingredients found in the refrigerators of ordinary families on the new reality series “Fridge Wars” (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG) imported from Canada. Shipped in from the U.K., “Taskmaster” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) puts ordinary folks through the paces.
- Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): How black-market marijuana cuts into the profits of California’s legal growers; forging letters written by Christopher Columbus; a Christmas pilgrimage to Ethiopia’s ancient Christian site.
- NBA Basketball (7:30 p.m., ABC).
- On two helpings of “The Alienist: Angel of Darkness” (TNT, TV-MA): an orderly’s murder (8 p.m.), the prospect of ruin (9 p.m.).
- Jamie’s eureka moment on “Yellowstone” (8 p.m., Paramount, TV-MA).
- The church tries to talk reason to Sister Alice on “Perry Mason” (8 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).
- Ronnie mourns on “The Chi” (8 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).
- Bing questions Manx on “NOS4A2” (9 p.m., AMC, BBC America, TV-14).
- The wheels of justice spin slowly on the season finale of “Outcry” (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).
- Many of Michelle’s musings are proven right on the finale of “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” (9 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).
- “United Shades of America” (9 p.m., CNN) examines different school opportunities in neighboring towns.
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