News

‘Life After People,' Tuesday on History

Verne Gay
'LIFE AFTER PEOPLE,' THE SERIES - 10 p.m. EDT Tuesday on History
Newsday (MCT)

REASON TO WATCH: Because you were one of the nearly 5.5 million viewers who made the original special a smash hit.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: When more than 5 million tuned into the "Life After People" special in January 2008, you could pretty much count the days (or months) until a series was developed. And here it is.

In the original, History producers imagined what would happen when humans were no longer around to keep the great monuments of Earth's civilization intact. Think "post-apocalyptic"-meets-CGI; it was both awful and glorious.

Tonight, the apocalypse continues (for a total of 10 weeks). The series begins on a morbid track, wondering about what happens to bodies - frozen or mummified - but "Life After People" is not one to tarry.

The episode moves quickly onto the fate of the USS Constitution, Sistine Chapel, city of Boston, Astrodome, Lenin's body and much more. It also visits Hashima Island off Japan - once a thriving city devoted to coal-mining, abandoned 35 years ago and now a wasteland. We also learn that the Space Station will crash to Earth eventually, which will doom an unusual store of DNA onboard - including a piece, presumably hair, of Stephen Colbert! (You can't make this up.)

The big question: You were asking, how can this stretch into a series? According to a History release: "Each episode is a more detailed exploration of the world we've built the survivors who try to take our place - how will certain breeds of dogs evolve," for example. Also, "Every episode includes a visit to a real location long void of people - Tyneham, England ... Angkor Wat, Cambodia."

BOTTOM LINE: Those who didn't fall asleep in high school English class will remember that line of poetry from Shelley's "Ozymandias" about the ruined colossus in the desert: "... Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away." This remarkable program is dedicated to that simple proposition: We humans will not outlast our mighty works, and our mighty works will not outlast weather, time or pigeon droppings. This is the anti-history show on History, but what an amazing, enjoyable and educational ride.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image