“The Hot Zone” quickly became National Geographic’s most-watched scripted series when its ebola-focused Season 1 premiered in 2019. Now, National Geographic is setting its sights on a new crisis for Season 2 in the form of the the 2001 anthrax attacks.
The six-episode “The Hot Zone: Anthrax,” which stars Daniel Dae Kim and Tony Goldwyn, will premiere on November 28 and will air over three nights. Kim, Goldwyn, and the series’ executive producers discussed the upcoming season during a virtual panel during the Television Critics Association 2021 Summer Press Tour on Wednesday.
National Geographic’s synopsis for Season 2 reads: “With the world still reeling after the attacks on 9/11, America faces a second wave — the anthrax letters. Targeting journalists and politicians, mail with anthrax powder kills five people and causes panic across the United States. Limited series ‘The Hot Zone: Anthrax’ follows FBI Special Agent Matthew Ryker (Kim) as he tracks down the killer, finding himself ensnared in an unstable web of psychological warfare. Bruce Ivins (Goldwyn) is the brilliant microbiologist who becomes embroiled in the hunt. The six-hour scientific thriller follows ‘The Hot Zone,’ which was National Geographic’s most-watched scripted series of all time.”
“The Ebola crisis happened largely behind the scenes, but the anthrax letters played out in public, which created a different dynamic for its impact on politics, people, and the storytelling,” executive producer David Zucker said during the TCA panel.
Zucker executive produces the series alongside Ridley Scott, Jordan Sheehan, and Lynda Obst, while Richard Preston serves as a co-executive producer. Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson also serve as executive producers and showrunners.
The first season of “The Hot Zone,” which starred Julianna Margulies, Noah Emmerich, Liam Cunningham, Topher Grace, and James D’Arcy, received praise from critics, including IndieWire’s Ben Travers, who described it as a “scary, absorbing thriller you won’t easily forget” in his grade B review.
Zucker discussed the possibilities of future “The Hot Zone” installments during the TCA panel and noted that although there were no concrete plans, he was enthusiastic about dramatizing similar stories with “The Hot Zone” team.
‘I hope there is a third season. There are stories like this that fit, so, firmly in this kind of format where you can really tell the tale in the right number of hours,” Zucker said. “I would be sad not to continue that, especially because there is so much more we could dramatize.”