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The Colony TV ShowDiscovery Channel’s new post-apocalyptic reality show, “The Colony,” is an intriguing mix of “Survivor” and the “Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook.” Touted as a “controlled experiment to see if society can be rebuilt in the wake of a catastrophe,” the show takes place after a fictitious global viral outbreak modeled on historical catastrophes and future scenarios.
For ten weeks, ten people will live in seclusion and off-the-grid in a Los Angeles warehouse. The participants are first kept awake for 30 hours without much food to create the mindset and physical exhaustion they would likely be experiencing during such a crisis.
Then the first six volunteers are let into an abandoned department store to loot for 15 minutes after which time other marauders are let in to steal their supplies. After lugging 200 lbs of supplies eight miles down the Los Angeles River, they come across their new home, an 80,000 square foot abandoned factory dubbed “Sanctuary.”

While there is some food and water scattered about the factory, it soon becomes clear that the group will need to find some source of water. However, the nearest body of water, the Los Angeles River, is a “toxic soup.”
Luckily, John C., an IBM engineer, knows just how to build a giant water filtration unit! Isn’t that just the most fortunate thing ever? In fact, it’s not.
Each volunteer, we are told, was picked for a particular skill set. And while we are learning wonderful news skills and getting great insight from the three experts–one a homeland security advisor, another a mental health expert–commenting on the volunteers’ movements and decisions, what are the chances that after an apocalyptic catastrophe you or I would end up in a factory near a water source with supplies to make a giant water filter and a person who actually knows how to make that filter? Pretty slim, I’m thinking.
But the incredulity doesn’t stop there. When four more survivors are sent to the Sanctuary after the original six have been there for 24 hours, we are really supposed to believe that the short-term sleep deprivation and hunger are already playing mind games, breeding intense suspicion of the newbies. Are we really supposed to buy that the participants have completely “internalized these roles and [that] it becomes real to them” after only two days?
Well, I have suspicions, too. I suspect that Joey, the “every-man-for-himself” contractor, who immediately admits to having spent six years in prison for trafficking, is actually an actor.
But, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief because it’s a fascinating experiment. Unlike “Survivor,” no one is getting voted off the island, at least not yet. And, there is a ton of practical information to be gleaned from amongst the drama. Plus, who can pass up the the “A-Team”-like machining/building scenes?
“The Colony” airs Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET on Discovery.
The Colony

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