TV Review: Battlestar Galactica

The reimagined Battlesta Galactica aired beginning in 2003 with a miniseries and continuing for four season.  In this series, the Cylons (a race of sentient robots, originally designed and constructed by humans) attack the human race after a 40-year armistice between the Cylons and the humans.  The Cylons, using nuclear weapons and devious tactics, destroy the Twelve Colonies and chase after any fleeing humans in an attempt to utterly destroy the human race.  The namesake of the series, the Battlestar Galactica (a military carrier and relic of the Cylon War), evades the attacks in the midst of its decommisioning ceremony and puts together a haphazard fleet of survivors and spend the rest of the series running for their lives from the Cylons.

This show takes an interesting look at what it would be like to survive an apocalyptic event both on a post-nuclear holocaust world as well as fleeing through space.  While most of the show focuses on who is and isn’t a Cylon and spirals further into this whirlpool as the show progresses, it actually addresses some of the issues that would be encountered in these situations. 

There’s a whole episode that focuses on how essential water is to survival and how finding it in space would be like trying to find a needle in an infinite haystack.  The President of the Colonies keeps a white board in her office with an up to date tally of the population of the fleet and it really hits home how desperate the situation is for them every time that number goes down.  Eventually, the counter starts to go back up and you feel like they’ve finally arrived.  They aren’t grasping the proverbial precipice for dear life anymore and they might actually re-establish human civilization.

Throughout most of the first season, one of the Galactica’s pilots is stranded on Caprica – one of the nuked colonies – and we follow him as he evades Cylon patrols, radiation sickness, and tries to survive long enough to figure out how the hell he’s going to survive.  Basically, the ultimate survival story.

As they transition from the initial survival stage into a maintenance and rebuild stage, they address the issue of what you do to keep things working without specialists or proper resources.  How do you replenish a squadron of pilots when all the trained military pilots are already flying in said squadron?  What do you do with prisoners that commited crimes under a government that no longer exists?  How do you deal with overcrowding?  What happens when your highly efficient spaceships start to run out of their seemingly endless supply of fuel?

All in all it’s a good series, and it gives a good perspective on what life in the P.A.W. would be like.  Just don’t get disappointed when the show goes bat-sh*@ crazy in the last couple seasons.

TV Review: The Colony

Verdict: Good Stuff!

“The Colony” is a reality show on The Discovery Channel that follows a group of people in a controlled environment simulating a post-apocalyptic world and how those people might survive in it.  It has had a two season run so far and doesn’t seem to be losing steam.  Each season a group of 10 people is brought together and they have to figure out how to survive for 10 weeks.  As with any of these shows, it is never as simple as “let’s see what they come up with.”  For added reality, the producers brought in actors to play gangs, traders, and other survivors to invent some scenarios that the colonists would likely face.

As with any reality show, you can assume that there isn’t much “reality” involved.  However, unlike most other reality shows, there is no prize or “winner”.  Everyone that starts the show, will end the show unless circumstances dictate that they be removed (getting lost, simulated death, actual injury, deserting to the gangs, etc.).  This is one of the things I liked the most about the show, it makes it seem more like a social experiment than a television show and makes it more interesting to watch than if someone were “voted off” every week.

I also enjoyed seeing the ideas that were tossed around in order to make improvements to the colony: a wood gas generator, water purification systems, a flame thrower, a spark-gap transmitter, an alcohol still, a metal forge, a meat smoker, they even figured out how to make a toilet flush without working plumbing!  Now, whether or not any of these people had these ideas or they were given to them for the sake of the show is debatable, but honestly… Who cares?  It made the show better and if you’re able to suspend disbelief for 44 minutes at a time it shouldn’t matter.

I keep seeing the same comment over and over again: “These people are dumb and they can’t act.  The world hasn’t really ended, they know that in 70 days they get to go back to warm beds, hot meals, and cell phones.  They couldn’t have forgotten all that.  They’re so stupid.”  And to that I refer people to the Stanford Prison Experiment (http://www.prisonexp.org/) in which the participants took on the roles of guards and prisoners and the experiment was shut down 6 days in because it became too real for the participants.  Ultimately, if you pretend something is real long enough, you will start to actually believe it after a while.

One of the things that I enjoyed the most was that the first season of this show was essentially a post-apocalyptic think tank.  They through so much brain power together that it was scary what they came up with.  I think, given time, the colonists from season 1 would have become a dominant force in theoretical post-apocalyptic L.A.

All in all, its an entertaining show that will introduce you to some interesting survival ideas.  You just need to look passed the innate contrived nature of reality programming.

Armageddon Blog? What’s so special about that?

If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you will have noticed that they are all focused around surviving in the wilderness.  There are plenty of websites that you can read with this type of article.  How to survive in the woods, how to live without the use of modern society, and other general survivalist topics.  That isn’t what I’m focusing on here.  I think this information is vital, but what I’m trying to provide is information on how to survive in a doomsday scenario.

In most doomsday scenarios, the infrastructure of the world is still intact, the people are just gone (plague, external invasion, etc).  Most every city and town in the U.S. has a grocery store, a hardware store, and a majority even have a hospital.  These facts put together means that you can go to nearly any city and scavenge any equipment or materials you may need.  Something that every single city, town, or village anywhere in the world has that can be useful: empty buildings.  You can use a settlement to provide shelter, either temporary or permanent.

Put this information together with the basic survivalist knowledge and you get a full spectrum guide to survival.  The key is to be resourceful and use your environment.  If the manual says “use a stick” and you happen to be near a town, go to the hardware store, get some PVC or lead pipe or something like that instead of scrounging for hours for a proper stick.  Like the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared.”