Christine Ryan

Two stars from the WGN series Manh(a)ttan: Olivia Williams and New Mexico's high desert (photograph courtesy of WGN)

Not that we’re taking sides in the debate over film-production tax credits—what they do (or don’t do) for the economies of those states, such as New Mexico, that offer them, and what harm they’re wreaking (or not wreaking) on the entertainment industry back in greater L.A. But one thing we do approve of: the diversity of landscape appearing on our TV screens.

Take Manh(a)ttan, the (surprisingly good) 13-episode series about the Manhattan Project that’s winding down this month on the WGN cable channel. The “Will they invent the atom bomb in time to stop the Axis forces?” main story line, attended by the usual “Who’s sleeping with who, and when will his/her spouse find out?” melodrama, takes place in austerely beautiful Los Alamos—which, wonder of wonders, is played by actual New Mexico locations. (Which you can see behind Olivia Williams, in the photo above—she plays a brilliant, long-suffering botanist married to one of the atomic scientists.) Okay, sometimes producers play a little fast and loose with the details. For instance, the “Absaroka County, Wyoming” setting of the recently cancelled, much-lamented (at least in this office) A&E series Longmire bore an uncanny resemblance to Valle Caldera National Preserve and the little New Mexico town of Las Vegas. Still, in our eyes, that’s a damn sight better than trying to pass off SoCal as Harlan, Kentucky. (Yes, Raylan, we’re calling you out.)

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