The Colony Season One
the sort of person who is intrigued by the idea of getting an old truck
running on wood gas, or building a radio transmitter out of junk, then
get something out of
Discovery Channel series, a slice of Los Angeles has been set up to
mimic the total desolation that is expected to follow an apocalyptic
disaster. Ten participants have been dropped into this urban wasteland,
each bringing his or her own set of strengths, biases and beliefs. There
are some unique and strong individuals: Vladimir is a haunted ex-soldier
who likes to cook and to dance, Leilani is a self-defence instructor who
know how to back down from a confrontation, and Mike, if you can get
past his caustic hair-bristling exterior, is a pragmatic inventor and
individuals bring with them a mix of brawn, intellect and natural
instinct. A large part of the appeal of a show such as this is watching
the team come together to solve problems. At times it seems nothing is
beyond this group; between Mike’s
fabricating skills, Joey’s
grit and John C’s
imaginative brilliance, they look like they’re
capable of overcoming any challenge.
course, the machine isn’t
always so well oiled. Personalities come to the fore more than once, and
the immaturity, squabbling and lack of cohesion between certain people
regularly threatens to fracture the group.
the mix a bikie gang, whose goal it is to unnerve the group as well as
to steal supplies and harass them at every opportunity, and it makes for
an interesting set up with some exciting possibilities.
the ten episodes has its own theme, which usually takes the form of a
problem that the group will have to solve. In the first week they’ll
need to work out how to filter water from the poisonous Los Angeles
river, and in subsequent episodes they’ll
be challenged by food shortages and the problem of supplying power to
arising from these pressures are more human and ethical dilemmas. On
more than one occasion the colonists are forced into hard choices, such
as whether or not to kill captured goats for some much needed protein or
keep them for their milk, or whether to hand out their dwindling
supplies of food to other suffering survivors.
the only real problem with
is the fine line it walks between factual experiment and fictional
script. The colonists and their reactions are real, but sometimes the
situations they find themselves in feel forced. Always in the background
you can sense the prodding influence of the show’s
producers, guiding events along a path that makes for suitable and
entertaining television viewing. It would have been more interesting had
things been allowed to evolve more naturally.
Marauder leader Andre breaks into the compound to steal food, he seems
determined to announce his presence to the colonists. It makes for
dramatic television, but as a real-world act it doesn’t
make much sense.
As a show,
The Colony has the mass-produced look of other Discovery Channel
programmes. There are interjections by experts, a fairly standard
musical soundtrack, and a voice-over by the prolific Thom Beers (who
sounds more like John Wayne than ever). If you’ve
seen Ice Truckers, Ax Men or Deadliest Catch then
know what to expect from the show’s
look, sound and layout.
it feels like you’re
watching an urban version of Survivor, but thankfully the moments
of forced drama are kept to a manageable level. The Colony wasn’t
made to shatter your world view and it won’t-
delve into the Colony knowing that, and have an interest in
post-apocalyptic themes or how things work, then you’ll
find plenty to like.