The Colony has an interesting premise, one that is near and dear to most preppers: The world is turned upside down because of a catastrophe and society has collapsed. It is up to a band of survivors to work together and overcome survival challenges if they want to live.
For the show’s first season, ten cast members were placed in a simulated post-apocalypse environment for ten days to portray life after the collapse of society as a result of a deadly epidemic.
The volunteers assist with many aspects of sustainable living, including water, electricity, safety and food. Experts provided commentary and insight to the audience while our intrepid heroes struggle and often fail to overcome the constant survival tasks before them. On July 21, 2009, the Discovery Channel aired the season premiere.
Filming began on February 28 and lasted until April 28, 2009. It is currently on Netflix, but who knows for how long!
As always, if you want to experience the highs and lows of the show yourself, beware of spoilers ahead!
Season One Plot Synopsis
Each episode of the series features a number of phases with each design to simulate, and illustrate for the audience, a survival challenge that will likely accompany a societal collapse event.
Although certain parts of the show are dramatized, overall it provides quite a bit of insight into what such an event could look like.
Episode 1 begins with our 10 survivors being kept away for a full 30 hours with virtually no food and only the bare minimum of water to stave off dehydration.
Shocked and fatigued, mentally ailing, six survivors split off to loot and abandoned department store for any resources that they can carry. Their plans are cut short when scavengers arrive to steal what they have acquired.
After disengaging from the scavengers all the survivors must work together to walk over 8 miles down the Los Angeles River to their new home, the eponymous colony, an 80,000 square foot Warehouse sitting on three and a half acres of marginally securable land.
Now that they have some tools, food, water and plenty of scrap materials, the rebuilding of their burgeoning society begins.
An episode to the next order of business is to gather more supplies and create a source of energy to run tools, lights and other appliances.
A battery array is created, but a generator is needed to recharge it along with fuel. One lucky forging mission produces a suspiciously provisioned stash of canned fruits and veggies and a pair of live goats.
A small engine is scavenged in episode 3 along with pulleys and other parts to create a generator.
Gasoline is a precious and extraordinarily rare resource, and so a wood gasification project is set up by one of the survivors, a mechanical engineer.
This solves the fuel crisis for a Time. Under the circumstances, the survivors agreed that an escape vehicle must be procured as a contingency option in case their new home is made unsafe.
The next episode sees the survivors work on creating and maintaining a variety of creature comforts along with replenishing supplies, namely water and fish from the river and citrus fruits from any plants nearby.
A ripple of uncertainty and excitement goes through the group when they discover a working television that is on and receiving an emergency broadcast.
Unfortunately, these distractions allow Marauders and thieves to enter the perimeter and directly attack the colonists at the warehouse. Several days worth of provisions are stolen.
Episode 4 begins with a solar shower project being completed to help maintain the survivors hygiene. Everyone is still reeling and shaking from The Marauder attack the previous day, and security is high on everyone’s list of priorities.
These priorities are put to a test when a caravan of traders, all of them armed with firearms, arrive to trade goods with the colonists.
In the aftermath of this, holes in the warehouse walls are boarded up and secured, weapons are created, distributed and hidden, including a flamethrower and a primitive taser.
Serious thoughts of escaping the increasingly uncertain and dangerous city begin to rise, and further work on the escape vehicle commences
Episode 5 opens with fabrication and construction projects grinding to a halt due to a fuel shortage. One team is dispatched to search for a renewable energy source in the form of solar panels.
While they are away, the unity and morals of the team are tested when two strangers sneak into the warehouse through a secured door and beg for safe haven. They are sent away after an uneasy negotiation, and work on the escape vehicle continues.
Episode 6 sees the group in sorry shape. More than a month of living in harsh, unclean conditions with poor nutrition and overall lack of calories is taking a toll on their health. Minor injuries prove to be more severe than anticipated and everyone is losing weight and mentally sluggish.
A scouting party is sent to look for medical supplies at a nearby band in hospital, and during the trip one of the survivors goes missing with his whereabouts unknown to his compatriots.
That evening, the remainder of the group mourns the loss of their friend, but the television comes on again with another emergency broadcast.
Spirits are raised to this revelation and focus shifts towards establishing communication with other groups of survivors elsewhere in the world. A large SOS banner is crafted and placed on the roof of the warehouse.
The next episode, number 7, leads to more encounters with other groups of survivors moving through the area.
A group of zealous missionaries walking along the river discuss the subject of Faith with the survivors who are gathering water and fishing.
Elsewhere, later, to wandering survivors please for any resources that the group might spare in order to test their group loyalty, morals and sense of charity. Work continues on a few creature comforts and soap to improve hygiene.
Episode 8 sees the escape vehicle nearing completion, and with it mission is planned for we can ordering a probable route out of the city and into the country.
Another group of survivors arrives at the colony begging for food and water among other supplies.
One major surprise sees the arrival of one survivor’s wife among them.
Suddenly, and as a total surprise to the survivors, water pressure returns to the warehouse for a brief period but just as quickly goes off again, simulating the unreliable and sporadic nature of utilities in the aftermath of a major catastrophe.
A major leap in the group’s security is made when two of the survivors cobbled together a balloon made from reclaimed helium and trash bags that carries a loft a security camera allowing them to scope out the area around the colony.
Episode 9 proves to be the most severe test yet, with Marauders barring access to the river while the two wandering survivors who snuck into the warehouse several episodes ago return to steal important resources.
After this occurs, the colonists know that they must leave and leave in a hurry, and pour all of their efforts and completing the escape vehicle and making other vehicles roadworthy for the trip.
The armed traders also return trading much needed gasoline, water and food for solar panels, salt and a kiss from one of the female survivors.
Episode 10, The finale, sees the survivors making ready to leave after an accident severely injures one of them and another radio broadcast give them unverifiable information about a safe destination far away from the city.
Before they are able to flee, the Marauders arrive to storm the warehouse property in an effort to take control and capture the survivors.
Weapons and defensive fortifications are erected, improvised explosives are placed, doors are barricaded and the fence is electrified.
The survivors make ready to escape.
Survival Lessons from The Colony, Season 1
The Colony, Season 1 is a great example of how quickly things can go from bad to worse, but also how people can rally and restore some semblance of normality even under the most pressing of circumstances.
The lack of clean water, sanitation, and medical care leads to the rapid spread of disease and infection. Injuries become infected, and people soon start falling ill from simple things like cuts and scrapes.
Preppers can and should learn from the mistakes made by our intrepid survivors in The Colony, and also learn from their victories.
By taking steps to ensure that they have a good supply of clean water, sanitation supplies, and medical supplies. Without these basic necessities, it won’t take long for a prepper’s group to fall apart.
Episode 1 highlights the importance of having a plan and sticking to it. The survivors in The Colony had a plan to escape the city, and though they encountered many setbacks, they never wavered from their goal.
Preppers should have a similar plan in place, so that if disaster strikes, they know exactly what needs to be done and can act quickly and efficiently.
Episode 2 is all about security. The survivors in The Colony knew that they needed to be prepared for anything, and so they set up a perimeter fence and patrol schedule.
They also posted lookouts and set up traps to keep intruders out. Preppers should take similar precautions to ensure that their group is safe from outsiders who might want to take advantage of them.
Episode 3 shows the importance of having a reliable source of information. The survivors in The Colony were able to find out about the marauders thanks to a radio broadcast, and this allowed them to be prepared for the attack.
Preppers should make sure that they have a way to get information in the event of a disaster, so that they can stay up-to-date on what is happening and make informed decisions about how to best protect their group.
Episode 4 is all about teamwork. The survivors in The Colony knew that they needed to work together if they wanted to survive, and so they divided up into teams with specific roles.
This allowed them to make the most of their resources and skills, and ensured that everyone was pulling their weight. Preppers should do the same thing, so that everyone in the group knows what needs to be done and can work together towards a common goal.
Episode 5 is all about resourcefulness. The survivors in The Colony had to get creative when it came to finding food and water, and this meant making use of things like rainwater catchment systems and purifying contaminated water.
Preppers should always be thinking about how they can make do with what they have, so that they can stretch their resources as far as possible.
Episode 6 is all about adaptability. The survivors in The Colony had to change their plans on the fly when they realized that the marauders were coming, and this meant being able to think on their feet and improvise.
Preppers should always be prepared for the unexpected, and should have a plan B ready to go in case things don’t go according to plan.
Episode 7 also highlights the importance of communication.
The survivors are able to establish contact with other groups of survivors scattered around the world. This allows them to trade resources, and gain information about the state of the world.
Preppers should make sure they have a good communication plan in place, so they can stay in touch with other groups of survivors if the need arises.
Episode 8 highlights the importance of having a contingency plan.
When the water pressure returns for a brief period, the survivors are able to take advantage of it and fill up their tanks. This allows them to have a backup source of water in case the water supply is cut off again.
Preppers should always have a backup plan in place in case of an emergency. This could include having a stockpile of food and water, or having alternate sources of energy available.
In Episode 9, we see that it is important to be able to defend yourself and your group. The colonists are able to fend off the Marauders by using firearms, improvised explosives, and by constructing barricades.
In the same situation, you had better make sure you also have weapons and defensive supplies in case of an attack.
This could include firearms, knives, axes, and other tools that can be used for self-defense.
In the final episode of The Colony, we see that it is important to have a plan for what to do when things go back to normal.
The survivors in The Colony are able to reestablish contact with the outside world, and they start working on getting back to it and out of a hellish situation.
Preppers should make sure they have a plan for how they will reintegrate into society after a disaster, so that they can be prepared for anything.
The Colony is Prime Prepper Fare
If you’re a prepper, The Colony is appointment viewing. The 2009 TV show followed a group of people who were forced to live like it was the end of the world.
They had to scavenge for food and water, build their own shelter, and find ways to protect themselves from the marauders who roamed the land.
The show is a great example of what preppers can learn from “reality” TV that is geared toward us!