CLOSE
Original image

Airing Tonight: "The Colony" on Discovery

Original image

Set your DVRs: tonight (July 27) on the Discovery Channel, The Colony airs at 10pm. Read on for a first look!

What separates good reality TV from bad reality TV? For me, good reality TV raises questions -- most importantly, what would you do if you were the person living in the "reality" of the show? In bad reality TV, nobody cares -- it's pure entertainment, watching people goof around and make fools of themselves. But in good reality TV, like Discovery's The Colony, we are repeatedly confronted with questions, and every viewer's answer will be different. This is reality TV worth watching, because it presents real issues -- in this cases, issues of survival -- albeit through the lens of a reality TV show (meaning, there's a camera crew and producers around, in case some dude cuts his hand off). In The Colony, there is no prize at the end, there is no way to "win," and nobody gets voted off the island -- this is just a group of seven people trying to survive for 50 days entirely off the grid.

The Colony starts its second season tonight. I was a fan of the first season, and the second looks like a solid extension of the "experiment." In this season, a group of volunteer "colonists" are contained within a 10-acre neighborhood of abandoned, Katrina-ravaged Louisiana. They're placed in a survival scenario in which a global pandemic has infected and killed most people, and the virus is still loose; these colonists must survive given what they find in their enclosed environment, and they're often invaded by potentially-infected marauders (who are, by the way, armed with real smoke grenades and pepper spray, which they use on the colonists when provoked). The colonists must figure out how to establish viable shelter (the abandoned buildings are in terrible shape), start and maintain fires, purify water from a nearby canal, find food (some MREs are provided to start them off), and establish security. It's a lot of work.

Amazingly, on their very first day (after a 72-hour individual isolation period in quarantine...), the colonists do a pretty good job of dealing with shelter, fire, food, and water. Security is another matter -- you'll have to tune in to see how that works out.

After the jump: video clips and a bit more on The Colony.

This season, we again have a mixed bag of volunteers, with the oldest being 70-year-old DeVille, a retired contractor, and the youngest is 22-year-old Becka, a model with a Bachelors degree in Communications. There are vast differences in skills among the colonists (one is a mechanic, another a carpenter, one is a professor, and so on), and part of the fun of the first series was watching these people perform their professions so well. It's genuinely interesting to see them set up a water filtration system using sand, charcoal, and a couple of buckets. It's downright exciting to see them scavenge lightbulbs and batteries from abandoned cars and rig up lighting systems. In the first season, the colonists eventually put together solar panels, charging a large array of car batteries, which provided adequate electricity for lights, power tools, and even a TV set (though in the world of the colony, there's nothing on). Watching this, I'm forced to confront the reality that most of my skills involve typing. In a world without reliable power, computers go out the window. I'd be useful only for manual labor and maybe some light farming.

It'll be interesting to see how this new group gets along. It's clear from the first episode that a rift is developing between George (whose profession is listed as "Model Maker" with a Masters in Film from UCLA) and some of the tougher, rootsier dudes; George is about foraging and tinkering, while the others are just straight-up badasses. (At one point, colonist Reno criticizes George for riding a bike -- clearly a wimpy thing to do when traveling four blocks in the blazing Louisiana sun.) When the colony is attacked in the first episode, George gets pepper spray in his eyes and suffers some injuries from a tough fall -- he's no wimp, and I suspect he'll demonstrate some electronics or other technical skills that will help the colony down the line.

Here's a preview of the first season -- most of the clips are from the first episode.

And here's a brief clip from the first episode, in which the first outsiders come looking for food and water. Things go downhill after this encounter.

The Colony season 2 premieres tonight (July 27) on the Discovery Channel, The Colony at 10pm. It's worth a look for fans of more "real" reality TV -- while it is very much staged (these colonists are not alone, they're just portrayed that way), it's a very different take on reality TV; the lack of monetary rewards or competition makes it a show about cooperation, survival, and group dynamics -- all pretty brainy topics for "just" a reality TV show.

Blogger disclosure: I received no compensation, gifts, or other encouragement or rewards for this review; just saw the first episode and liked it.

Original image
HBO
arrow
entertainment
6 Tiny Details You Might Have Missed in the Latest Episode of Game of Thrones
Original image
HBO

Game of Thrones saw a drop in adrenaline last night in “Eastwatch,” the unlucky episode forced to follow the fighting and flames of the final battle in “The Spoils of War.” Still, “Eastwatch” was chock full of dramatic reveals and twisting intrigue—scintillating stuff, if you remember the six seasons of minutiae subtly referenced in last night’s episode. For viewers who haven’t been keeping as detailed a record of events in Westeros as Maester Maynard, here’s a rundown of six tiny details you might have missed in the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

1. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE LISTEN TO GILLY?

HBO

The biggest reveal in “Eastwatch” came in an easy-to-miss throwaway line—and the only other character onscreen wasn’t even listening. Just before Samwell Tarly burst into his rant about the shortsighted maesters of the Citadel, Gilly stumbled across a possible bombshell regarding Jon Snow’s lineage in Maester Maynard’s records. She discovers that Maynard “issued an annulment for a Prince Rhaegar and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne.”

If Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark were married when they conceived Jon Snow, then the King in the North isn’t a bastard after all. He is rightfully Jon Targaryen, and has a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne. (This might also explain the touching moment between Jon and Drogon earlier in the episode.)

2. THE NOT-SO-SECRET RAVEN SCROLL

As Arya and Littlefinger continued their game of Spy vs. Spy last night, Arya found a “hidden” note from Sansa to her brother Robb dating back to the show’s second season. To save you the trouble of deciphering her handwriting, it reads:

“Robb, I write to you with a heavy heart. Our good king Robert is dead, killed from wounds he took in a boar hunt. Father has been charged with treason. He conspired with Robert’s brothers against my beloved Joffrey and tried to steal his throne. The Lannisters are treating me very well and provide me with every comfort. I beg you: come to King’s Landing, swear fealty to King Joffrey and prevent any strife between the great houses of Lannister and Stark.”

Judging from Littlefinger’s self-satisfied smirk, this appears to be part of a scheme to drive a wedge between Sansa and Arya, who will not understand that her sister wrote this under threat from Cersei Lannister.

3. CERSEI’S ILL-FATED PREGNANCY

Cersei and Jaime’s joy over the newest all-Lannister pregnancy may be short-lived. Prophecies aren’t always straightforward in this series, but the fortune teller Maggy the Frog’s prophecies about Cersei have held remarkably true thus far. She predicted that Cersei would have three children and that each one of them would die, before she herself would be killed by her younger brother. If Cersei is pregnant with a fourth child, the only way the prophecy can hold true is if she and/or her unborn child die before Cersei gives birth.

4. DAENERYS REPRISES HER “BREAK THE WHEEL” SPEECH

Daenerys’s appeal to the captured Lannister soldiers and allies after the Battle of the Loot Train centered on her promise to “destroy the wheel that has rolled over rich and poor to the benefit of no one but the Cersei Lannisters of the world.” This was a callback to a Season 5 conversation she had with Tyrion Lannister, when she made the same vow to “break the wheel” of ruling families rotating in and out of power.

5. SAM’S “BETTER MEN” CALLBACK

    After making one of the most momentous discoveries in the series thus far, Gilly politely listened while her boyfriend Sam explained his reasons for wanting to sneak out of the Citadel. “I’m tired of reading about the achievements of better men,” Sam said, referencing the stinging words of his recently-roasted father, Randyll Tarly.

    During Sam and Gilly’s disastrous meet-the-parents dinner in Season 6, Randyll lamented that his son was still buried in books, “reading about the achievements of better men.” Of course, Sam might do well to pay attention to the research achievements of the better woman sitting by his side.

    6. THE SENTIMENTAL SLAVER’S COIN

    HBO

      As Tyrion bid farewell to Ser Jorah last night, he gave his old friend a gold coin as a keepsake. The coin dates back to Season 5, when Tyrion and Jorah were sold to fight in the slave pits of Meereen. Tyrion suggested that their master free and pay them. The slaver gave Tyrion a coin, but the men remained in chains. With Jorah beyond the wall on a mission to capture a Wight alive—undead?—we’ll see if he manages to return Tyrion’s sentimental gift.

      Original image
      Comedy Central
      arrow
      entertainment
      10 Things You Might Not Know About South Park
      Original image
      Comedy Central

      South Park has been a favorite of comedy fans since its broadcast debut in 1997, keeping a permanent seat in internet culture thanks to a slew of quotable catch phrases and delightfully inflammatory conversation pieces. Nevertheless, there are a few things about Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s iconic series—which made its debut 20 years ago today—that you might not know.

      1. SOUTH PARK PIONEERED THE WAVE OF “MATURE” TELEVISION.

      Making its debut in the summer of 1997, South Park entered the small screen circuit just in time to reap the benefits of the Federal Communications Commission’s latest venture: the TV Parental Guidelines. The rating system went into effect in January of the same year, distinguishing “child friendly” programming from “adult content.” Upon its premiere on August 13, South Park became the first weekly series to earn the “TV-MA” (or “Mature Audiences”) label.

      2. MOST OF THE SERIES’S FEMALE CAST MEMBERS PERFORM UNDER PSEUDONYMS.

      The wealth of the male characters on South Park are voiced by creators and writers Parker and Stone, but the animated Colorado town’s female population has long owed its lines to a small number of women behind the scenes. The voice actresses principally responsible for this lot have been, at various points, Mona Marshall, April Stewart, Eliza Schneider, and the late Mary Kay Bergman.

      Early on in her South Park tenure, Disney and Hanna-Barbera mainstay Bergman was sometimes credited as Shannen Cassidy in order to avoid fallout from the ideological differences between South Park and her family-friendly material. Similarly, Stewart adopted the alias Gracie Lazar for her South Park work, and Schneider (who left the series in 2003) performed as “Blue Girl,” a handle she also utilized in her music career. Only Marshall has been consistently credited without a pseudonym.

      3. SEVERAL CELEBRITIES HAVE PLAYED EASY-TO-MISS CAMEOS.

      South Park’s preferred use of celebrity guest stars differs quite a bit from that of its animated sitcom brethren, a community that typically aims to “play up” the notability of a visiting voice actor. With a few exceptions, South Park favors hiding any trace of a star’s contribution, relegating big-name guests to little more than animal sounds. Actors as renowned as George Clooney, Jay Leno, and Henry Winkler have provided dog barks, cat purrs, and monster growls, respectively, for the show.

      4. ONE NOTABLE FAN REFUSED AN OFFER TO GUEST STAR.

      Of course, not all Hollywood stars are game for this caliber of work. Taking note of South Park’s meteoric rise in popularity at the inception of its second season, Jerry Seinfeld contacted creators Parker and Stone to express interest in voicing a character. They offered the comedian the nonspeaking part of “Turkey No. 2” in their Thanksgiving episode, but Seinfeld declined.

      5. SOME FAMOUS NAMES HAVE WRITTEN FOR THE SERIES.

      Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

      Today, Bill Hader and Kristen Schaal are TV comedy stars in their own right. However, while Hader was still appearing on Saturday Night Live, he doubled as a consultant writer and then producer for Parker and Stone’s animated series. Similarly, Schaal spent 2007 working as a consultant writer on South Park, before padding her resume with parts on Flight of the Conchords, The Daily Show, and 30 Rock.

      6. A SITCOM LEGEND CONTRIBUTED TO TWO EPISODES OF THE SERIES.

      It is hardly a surprise to learn that the daringly controversial Parker and Stone hold great reverence for the king of all politically incorrect sitcoms: All in the Family. As such, the pair’s communal dream came true when Norman Lear, the brain behind the groundbreaking series, brought his talents to the South Park set as a writing consultant on the consecutive season 7 episodes “Cancelled” (the 100th episode produced) and “I’m a Little Bit Country.”

      7. TREY PARKER APPLIED THE SHOW’S VISUAL STYLE TO A SERIES OF PHILOSOPHICAL SHORTS.

      Inheriting a reverence for Buddhism from his father, Randy, Trey Parker went on to discover affection for the philosophies of Zen writer and speaker Alan Watts. In 2007, Parker borrowed the construction paper aesthetic of his popular Comedy Central series to a side project: animated sequences accompanying short segments of Watts’s lectures. Subjects brought to life through Parker’s animation included Watts’ take on music (“Life and Music”), personality extremes (“Prickles and Goo”), and the human race’s relationship with the planet (“Appling”).

      8. SOUTH PARK REUNITED A FAMOUS COMIC DUO.

      The season four episode “Cherokee Hair Tampons,” which aired in 2000, was notable for employing a pair of guest stars for more than just a few canine grunts. Counterculture comedians Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, who had long since dissolved their big-screen partnership, both lent their voices to the installment. Chong admitted that he and Marin didn’t record their parts together for the episode, but he did credit South Park with reviving their professional camaraderie.

      “Cheech did his bit one day and I came in the next day and did my bit,” he told UCTV. “That was the first time we did something together in 20 years so yes, we can give South Park the credit.” Chong’s math might be a little off—his and Marin’s previous proper film collaboration was Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, although they shared credits well into the ’90s—but the spirit of his words sticks. Since the South Park episode, Chong and Marin have joined forces on a handful of film and television projects, including Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie.

      9. AN INSECT MUTATION WAS NAMED AFTER A SOUTH PARK CHARACTER.

      Comedy Central

      Throughout the first five seasons of South Park, the primary distinguishing characteristic borne by the character Kenny McCormick was his proclivity to die suddenly in every episode. This unfortunate trait won Kenny the honor of lending his name to a mutation in the genetic structure of the adult fruit fly, discovered in 2002 by scientist Sophie Rutschmann. The gene was found to predict imminent mortality upon contact with an otherwise benign strain of bacteria; this “certain death” mutation was aptly nicknamed “Kenny” after South Park’s ill-fated character.

      10. THE TOURETTE SYNDROME ASSOCIATION HAS PRAISED SOUTH PARK’S TREATMENT OF THE DISEASE.

      Well aware of South Park’s reputation for insensitivity, the Tourette Syndrome Association approached the series’ season 11 episode, “Le Petit Tourette,” prepared to be gravely offended. The nonprofit organization was unsurprised by South Park’s heavy focus on coprolalia, or involuntary cursing—a symptom disproportionately associated with the disease in popular culture—but went on record as saying that they were impressed by the episode’s treatment of the condition, as well as by its wealth of well-researched information.

      SECTIONS

      arrow
      LIVE SMARTER
      More from mental floss studios