Well, it’s been a few weeks since the start of National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers show, and the initial episode of Discovery’s Doomsday Bunkers show was on the 7th (a few days ago, as I write this). There seem to be lots of others weighing in on these shows out in the blogosphere and on the forums, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be left out, right?
I’ll start with Doomsday Bunkers. This looks like it will follow the trajectory of a number of other shows out there; they watch the business operations of a particular business, track interactions with customers, and provide some commentary. I don’t know if they’ll stick solely with the company depicted in the first episode, but they likely will, at least through the first season. My thoughts on the show: I hope they do business on the side making other things than bunkers, as I’m not certain how lucrative a market that is. Granted, the shelter they were building was running to $450k–you’d only need to make a couple of sales like that per year–but that seems to include materials, assembly, excavation, etc. All that aside, the shelters look impressive. I’d be concerned that the only power comes from gas generators–even at “just a couple of watts” (per day? hour? minute? They didn’t specify…) you could run through a fuel supply pretty quickly. The producers are going to show a lot of the inter-personal “soap opera” among the workers; if you can filter through that, there’s bound to be some interesting and/or useful stuff come up as the show moves along. Overall, however, I’d give it maybe two out of five stars, as it’s mostly entertainment.
National Geographic does a somewhat better job with Doomsday Preppers. On the one hand, there’s serious discussion about various scenarios and steps to take/being taken for each one. They zoom in on two or three individuals/families/groups per show, and analyze their preps for whatever their particular bugbear is. On the other hand, they’re finding a number of folks who are either A) crackpots or B) clueless. This is not saying that they all are–far from it, in fact. And I’m sure that some of the bits that seem “out there” are relics of not having the time to explore all avenues of things, or of actual opsec from the people being analyzed. (For instance, even if I were silly enough to let camera crews follow me around & detail my prepping, they would remain blissfully ignorant of my backup plans.) But some of it–well, to take an example from the most recent episode, even if significant amounts of radiation from Fukushima Dai-Ichi were to make it to the U.S., plastic pop-up shelters aren’t going to protect you from it. (Okay, they’ll protect from the α-radiation, and maybe even a little from the β; from the γ-radiation, though, you’re out of luck.) Or one young lady’s plan to GOOD, on foot, at night, through downtown Houston, after an Event. Or another’s plan to bug-in, within site of the state Capitol building. (If a desire is expressed, I can do a scenario-by-scenario critique of all of the episodes–that’d be fodder for months, here.) Setting aside the crazy, there is a lot of good information to be had, and lots of good advice and ideas from all of it (even the *really* bad ones–sometimes, what not to do is just as important as what to do). Overall, probably between two and 4.5 stars out of five, depending on the segment.
One thing that strikes me, from both of the shows–several of the preppers shown are basing their preps on extremely vague fears–literally “bad dreams,” in one case. Some of them have specific scenarios in mind, but don’t seem to be realistically preparing for those scenarios. While I can’t exactly fault the latter (better to be prepared for anything–then your bases are covered), I’ve stated before that one key factor is being able to turn the paranoia off for most day-to-day activities, the better to retain one’s sanity.
What do you, the readers, think about the shows? Have you even watched any of either?