When the ship hit the fans last weekend with the suckfest Poseidon, no one was more disappointed than I, having been a fan of the disaster genre ever since Airport. For years, World of Wonder peddled an idea around called Apocalypse How, a docudrama series exploring various worlds-end scenarios. But then, one by one, with 9/11, SARS, the tsunami, and Katrina, they all came true. Only Y2K didn’t happen.
The Discovery Channel has cracked the code with Perfect Disaster, each hourlong drama doc an examination of a different scenario: a super typhoon in Tokyo, a mega ice storm in Toronto, a knock-out solar storm in New York.
Tune in this Sunday for two very different variations on the themes of death and disaster – Baghdad ER on HBO and 10.5 Apocalypse on NBC. We pitched Apocalypse How to the brass at NBC who told us it didn’t pay to really scare the audience, from an advertiser point of view. So chances are their apocalypse set in Vegas will play campy, unlike Baghdad ER, which everyone seems to agree is gruelling.
Maybe it’s good that these things are on the small screen. When the disasters are too big it helps that the pictures got small. With bubonic plague in California, rabies in Texas, and now morgellons disease, we don’t need to see that… at least not on the big screen.
Both The Flight That Fought Back and Flight 93 gave Discovery and A&E record ratings, whereas the theatrical feature United 93 quickly disappeared in time for World Trade Center – just when you thought it was safe to go back in the theater.
As it happens, I will be taking my life in my hands by going to the theater this weekend to see something called An Inconvenient Truth, which sounds like a nice diverting comedy, rather than the widescreen exposé of the planet’s gravest threat that we seem to take least seriously.
– Fenton Bailey