Friday, March 19, 2010

Series Review: The Colony

A couple months ago I mentioned in a post that I would be watching the Discovery Channel series The Colony - a reality show wherein ten strangers would attempt to survive in a frightening post-apocalyptic world. Last night my wife and I finished the show and here's what I have to say.

The premise: A group of ten people were put into a full immersion experiment, where they spent ten weeks living in an old factory in Los Angeles, under the premise that a viral outbreak had destroyed most of the worlds population. Scavenging to survive, the colonists attempted to build machines for basic survival and learned to deal with the threat of various marauders trying to take over their factory.

The good: There were a number of things about the series that impressed me: The colonists themselves were pretty amazing, working through a very difficult situation with only a few hiccups, the fact that the curve-balls thrown in - marauders, religious groups, and even a shocking pair of visitors, felt like reasonable occurrences in this scenario. The most impressive thing for me personally was the fact that the series crew was able to create a mini-world where the colonists could exsist, including the factory itself and nearby buildings (including an abandoned hospital and a not-quite abandoned trailer park) which allowed the series to appear very realistic for the colonists.

The Bad: This is just my personal taste, but a lot of the show depended on the colonists creating various machines, from the simple (a water filtration system) to the complex (vehicles, a wood gassifier, and a radio signal), which would definitely be a major problem for me in this type of scenario. The colonists themselves included medical personnel, contractors, engineers and scientists, which unfortunately made me feel that unless I could whip together a Tesla coil, my chances in this kind of future would be limited.

Improvements I would make: My favourite examples of a full immersion television series are either the Canadian series Pioneer Quest (wherein two couples live alone on the Canadian prairie for a year) or the British series The 1900 House (where a family lives in a house retrofitted to function as it would have in 1900). Both of these series began with an episode focusing on how the crew put these worlds together - something I really would have been interested to see with The Colony. In addition, both of the other shows followed up with their subjects a month or so later to see how they felt about their time in the experiment - I would have enjoyed that as well. Perhaps these features would be made available on the DVD, if so - I'll be sure to let you know.

In the end I liked the show - it was impressive to see the kinds of things that could be put together in a disaster scenario, both mechanically and the random group of strangers that became a family. If you are into post-apocalyptic stories, it is definitely worth a watch.

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