Horrorible Review: “Colony, Season 1”

Colony TV Show publicity photo

Colony: season 1

I suppose it’s because I’m a zombie fan, but someone I know recommended that I watch this dystopian science fiction. I was immediately smitten. Set in contemporary Los Angeles a year after a sudden and decisive invasion from space, we follow the stories of a typical family and quickly discover they’re not so normal after all.  The “Raps” wiped out humanity’s defenses, including military and law enforcement personnel, built an impenetrable 300 foot wall, imposed a strict set of rules including curfew, and total lack of legal protections from the “red hats” – drone-like collaborators who enforce the new rules with a heavy hand – all in about three days it seems. The series begins nearly a year after that, set inside one of the walls. The people inside seem awfully conditioned to their new lifestyles of riding bikes (in LA!) everywhere, scrounging for food and staying out from under the feet of the redhats, who send you to The Factory – from which no one ever returns.

The special effects is one of the first things I noticed.  They’re used sparingly, but are an integral part of the show, especially the wall and the drones.  It’s just the right proportion to make you know how screwed people are without being in-your-face 80s glam sf.   The next thing I noticed was the mother is played by Sarah Wayne Callies, who played mom Lori in The Walking Dead. I despised that character so much that I darned near turned off the disk.  Somehow I talked myself out of it and was handsomely rewarded.  She is unfortunately paired with Josh Holloway of Lost, where I don’t remember his biggest acting tic being a dramatic sigh or three with every line he utters. He’s also one of the executive producers, which made me realize he’s a geek and I finally managed to stop whining about the sighs about four episodes in.  That and someone told me to cut it out.

At the outset it seems like other “aliens bad” shows you’ve seen, but you’d better know how to swim because it gets deep fast.  The plot lines are a tangled skein that get more deeply involved with each episode.  This is the funny part – it all makes sense.  Still, don’t try telling someone a synopsis unless you have a half hour to kill. The writers make sure everyone has a reason for everything they do.  Most of the characters are in a grey area of motivation and no one is what they seem, even the bad guys. Characters can also be shaped by events – imagine! – and are pulled one way or another by love, fear, human loyalty, survival. Good guys do bad things for good reasons and bad guys almost never do good things. It all seems very human.

It’s super refreshing to not be yelling at the screen all the time because someone’s doing something stupid, or like The Walking Dead, everyone doing stupid stuff constantly. Most people in the world are not TWD stupid, or at least I’d like to think so, and this is reflected in the writing.

Characters inside the wall mirror the breadth of human diversity, both good guys and bad, with one problem.  People in power, the ones outside the mire of existence inside the wall, are all Caucasian. They’re fairly well split between male and female, but I don’t like it to be so easy to tell who’s the bad guy.  Okay, maybe I’m a little too gung-ho, but Tory Kittles, who plays badass aliens-and-friends killer Broussard may be a bad guy for how easily he kills, but since he’s not killing good guys I don’t tend to classify him that way in my mind. I’m also disappointed in the lack of gay characters.  No gay people in Hollywood?

The last episode will leave you breathless. There are many cliffhangers jumping from every bit of thread, leaving many options for season two. I’ve seen Hollywood blow it too many times to not bite my nails over this, and I worry how they’ll handle the massive, extreme changes in the stories in the last couple of minutes. The last few seconds drew a verbal reaction from me that I cannot repeat here. Fortunately, even if 2nd season sucks, I’ll still be grateful for season one because it’s good science fiction with a solid cast, writing, and special effects.


COLONY Season 1 Comic-Con TRAILER (2015) New USA Series

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