August 21, 2009
As a perennial devotee of all things post apocalyptic, I was very excited when I first saw a commercial for Discovery Channel’s new show, The Colony. Valerie and I had discussed only a few nights before how it would be cool if there was a Man vs Wild episode where Bear Grylls shows the viewer how to survive a Zombie uprising.
For various reasons we missed the first few episodes. I finally caught the second half of an episode the other day. To say I was disappointed would be like saying The Phantom Menace was kind of bad. What I hoped to see was a decent simulation of a post apocalypse situation. What I saw instead was more like The Real World in a dirty warehouse without the beautiful people.
To be fair, I went online and watched the first episode. I thought maybe I’d just caught the show at a weak moment. I was wrong. While the introductory episode isn’t so bad at first, it soon devolves into just another reality show. The further they come along in meeting their basic survival needs the more they find time to yell at each other.
The intro claims the participants represent a cross section of American society. Yet it seems more likely to have been cast first to include complementary skill sets and second for maximum dramatic tension. A real cross section of America would include at least one or two people with no useful skills. When the Zombies rise up, what are the chances you’ll be stranded with a doctor, a nurse, a contractor, a machinist, 3 different types of engineers and a solar-panel fabricator? What are the chances you won’t be stuck with a single burger jockey or corporate executive type?
I’m not impressed that a bunch of scientists and engineers can figure out how to build a water filtration system. Seeing a group of fast food workers and retail employees put their heads together to figure out how to survive, now that would have been interesting. That would have tested the limits of creativity and human ingenuity. Instead the “experiment” of The Colony seems to be testing how long a group of strangers can work together before they start bickering.