It's July 2, 1943, and countless scientists are working feverishly at a dusty outpost in Los Alamos, New Mexico, to develop a weapon.

Set 766 days before an atomic bomb will be dropped on Hiroshima, "Manhattan," WGN America's second original series, follows a ragtag group set out to meet this goal in the midst of World War II at the Manhattan Project.

Enigmatic genius scientist Frank Winter (John Benjamin Hickey, "The Big C"), leads one of the groups working to develop the bomb. He's guided and mentored by Glen Babbit (Daniel Stern, "Home Alone"), and his team -- well, we'll be nice and call them the underdogs.

But the series isn't just about the scientists -- this is a family affair, with the wives of the scientists living on the campus.

Ever since "Mad Men" premiered in 2007, period dramas have been all the rage, taking us all back in time with varying degrees of success. With "Manhattan," WGN America has turned out a winner.

Created by Sam Shaw, a writer on another period drama, Showtime's "Masters of Sex," and directed and produced by nine-time Emmy winner Thomas Schlamme ("The West Wing"), "Manhattan" is a fascinating piece of historical fiction.

Hickey's Frank is a scrapper -- incredibly smart, determined and willing to put everything, and everyone, aside to achieve his goals.

It's a strong performance in a show filled with strong performances, like the one from Olivia Williams, who plays Frank's wife Liza, who holds a PhD in botany and is trapped in this desert jail while her husband is buried in his work.

History tells us how the Manhattan Project turns out, but "Manhattan" looks to be a great journey show us how it got there.

On TV: "Manhattan" premieres  on Sunday at 9 p.m. on WGN America.