With Mad Men ending this spring, and Pan Am and The Playboy Club long since canceled, audiences will have to turn to WGN America’s new period drama Manhattan (or perhaps Showtime’s Masters Of Sex) to get their fix of historical references and mildly racist humor. The second season of Manhattan is set to premiere in 2015, and just added Chicago’s very own William Petersen to its cast.

Contrary to what you might expect, Manhattan is neither a gritty reboot of Friends nor an extended version of Woody Allen’s film a la From Dusk ‘Till Dawn: The Series. Instead, Manhattan is set in the small New Mexico town of Los Alamos in 1943, the second year of the Manhattan Project. (The actual Manhattan Project, not the 1986 John Lithgow film The Manhattan Project). The outside world knows nothing about the project, the federal government tells the scientists only what they need to know, and the scientists keep secrets from their families.


Petersen has been cast as one of those secret-keepers, Col. Emmett Darrow, a ranking military officer at Los Alamos described as “a deeply religious and patriotic man [who] feels called by God to usher in the atomic future and to spread American values across the globe.” Petersen is perhaps best known for his role as Gil Grissom on CBS’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, as well as his work in Michael Mann’s cult classic Silence Of The Lambs prequel, Manhunter. This is Petersen’s first television role since leaving CSI in 2009; he has presumably lost none of his signature intensity in the meantime.