As you are all aware, Doomsday Preppers airs on the National Geographic channel Tuesday nights at 9pm central time. A slight change this season for my reviews is that I will be using the actual show title instead of my own, to make things easier on the readers.
In the first segment we met Jeff Mann, leader of a 25 person prepping community that is preparing for the end of times. Jeff just happens to be the owner of Survival Warehouse and we do get to see his company logo a few times before the segment ends. So, right out of the gate we have season 3 picking up right where it left off in regards to Infomercial Prepping.
As added drama for the episode we find out that Jeff’s son, Colton, is the black sheep of the family who just happens to decide to come back into the fold right before filming. His debut on film has him riding up on his motorcycle as the narrator paints the picture of rebellious youth. blah blah blah
Once the segment gets going things start looking up for season 3. We see a wide array of animals that can be used for food, product or trade. We hear about multiple individuals with differing backgrounds that compliment each other nicely in a SHTF scenario and we see that The Colony is well stocked for food and water supplies.
In my opinion this is where the train derails for this segment.
The Colony has over 200 weapons and over 1 million rounds of ammunition. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but as the segment moves along the amount of firepower available to these men does become a bit of an issue for me.
After a little target practice on some old junker cars the men of The Colony instruct Colton on the proper assembly of an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and then the lay waste to the junker car until it blows up, much to their enjoyment. Did they really do that? Did they really build a homemade IED? Yes, they did.
Now, although it wasn’t covered in the segment I am going to guess that someone at The Colony has the permits and licenses required by that state to legally manufacture and detonate the explosive used on the show. I am hoping that National Geographic ensured that this was on the up and up instead of just waving the men on while the cameras rolled. If not, well, I guess after the last couple of seasons it wouldn’t surprise me a whole lot.
Why do I have such a big issue with IEDs? I have a problem with any program purporting to be anything other than entertainment showing the casual manufacture of explosives. We have tens of thousands of military veterans that suffer each and every day due to the wounds they have suffered from IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have hundreds of people wounded physically and/or psychologically by a pair of IEDs set off at the Boston Marathon. We have news reports every week it seems about people being caught with firearms, ammunition and pipe bombs. The segment with the IED served absolutely no real purpose in the segment other than “shock and awe” for ratings.
It can’t get any worse, right? Absolutely wrong.
In the final segment of The Colony we see co-founder Bill Hennessy and a few other men building a functional gallows. Once again, they were building a set location from which to be able to hang people until they are dead. Now, before anyone starts in on the whole “well, that was just for TV, they didn’t really mean anything by it”, please go a watch the segment again. The sheer enjoyment that this man seems to get when he kicks the bucket out from under their test dummy was frightening. Was he playing a role? Perhaps. My concern would be just how easily this man can slip into that role without a second thought. I think one person on Twitter last night summed it up perfectly:
There was a bit of a dramatic conflict between two members due to the gallows that escalated when one of them called the other a “tree hugging liberal”, but in the end they hugged and made up, because really, they know they are only gonna hang people the don’t like.
My take on any compound like The Colony is that leadership cannot be assumed, nor can it be passed down. Leadership of a group must be granted by those in the group and those same people must have the right and the ability to remove that power if necessary. To The Colony’s defense the NatGeo crews never spoke to any of the other 25 members to ask what they thought about things like IEDs and the gallows. For all we know these people may have asked for such accoutrements.
As for me, I would advise my followers and clients to avoid compounds like The Colony at all costs. These places can very quickly assume the mantle of dictatorship, not to mention the fact that one unstable person with access to that kinda of firepower could do a lot of damage, very quickly.
The second segment of the show was about a man who dug a big hole and buried his RV in it. He built some extra space around it and he lives underground with his family. That was pretty much the extent of it. NatGeo didn’t spend much time on this segment other than to point out that the man is planning to remove carbon dioxide from the air via small plants under grow lights. Suffice it to say most people were still reeling from The Colony to pay much attention to this segment.
I struggled with a heading for this segment. I considered a lot of headings with “God”, “Religion” or “Unfortunate” in there but they all seemed too pointed and callous. Realistically speaking this segment wasn’t about prepping so much as it was about opinion, choice and faith. Many people, myself included, poked fun at their decision to remain unarmed and maintain a passive stance in the face of potential danger.
During the segment the group members installed solar panels and built a homemade water pump from PVC. Both of these preps were good ideas and properly handled, however neither was the focus of the segment. The focus of this segment was firearms, or the lack thereof.
One member of the group, Garry, was armed with a small pistol. When the subject was approached Garry decided to provide a quick lesson to Cheree about how his pistol is important to their safety. He took Cheree to a deserted road and then had a couple people approach them in a vehicle. Garry assumed a flawed but basic threatened stance and used a flashlight to signal the truck. He then ordered the men out and controlled the situation completely, simply with the threat of having a firearm. This part of the segment was nothing but chum to myself and the rest of the sharks that were watching.
First of all Garry obviously doesn’t know anything about security. Being an ex US Army MP I have pretty extensive knowledge on how to run a proper checkpoint or traffic control point, so I am pretty confident when I say that Garry should stop watching movies and talk to someone in the know.
Let’s break this part down piece by piece:
1) Checkpoints and TCPs have a minimum of 3 people
2) Checkpoints and TCPs should have warning signs preceding them telling drivers to douse their headlights
3) Checkpoints and TCPs should have BRIGHT backlights to effectively blind the driver and occupants to what is in front of them
4) Only one person should stand at the Checkpoint/TCP. The other two should be stations out of sight to either side of the road
5) As the vehicle approaches and stops, the flanking personnel should approach from beside and behind the driver and passenger side for support
Now, some people will argue about the warning signs but even in combat zones these signs are commonly used. I cannot think of an example where having these signs in front of your checkpoint would create a problem. Some people on twitter also mentioned that Garry used a flashlight and didn’t hold it out to the side away from his body, thus offering an assailant a shot at him. In reality you shouldn’t use a flashlight at a checkpoint, too small and not bright enough, but if you had to use one you should make sure you are close enough to see the other person’s hands and have your weapon ready.
Garry failed horribly in this scenario, you know, the one he constructed. First he stood in front of the vehicle where the headlights effectively blinded him from seeing the driver or passenger. Secondly he signaled the vehicle from too far away, giving the occupants time to devise a reaction to his “checkpoint”. Third he had nothing other than his own body to stop the vehicle from continuing on it’s path. All in all this checkpoint would have never worked had the driver decided he didn’t want to stop.
Garry is later voted off the island because he is too aggressive and won’t give up his gun. I don’t think they really lost anything by getting rid of him, but they are all probably doomed anyway.
The conclusion of last night’s premier is that NatGeo has decided to continue on with the drama and “shock and awe” mentality that it has been developing for this show over the past two seasons. I believe there was less “prepping” in this episode than in many previous episodes. Sure we had some people kill a boar and skin it and we saw a guy’s RV/Bunker stocked with supplies and watched someone install some solar panels and a well pump, but counted against all of the contrived BS that made up the rest of the show, it was lean pickings.
Practical Preppers was on hand through their Twitter account (@PractPrepLLC) to talk about their scoring and the show segments. I found that very useful and give them much kudos for dealing with all of us so diplomatically. They have even promised the release of an app that will help people understand the scoring better. On a personal note Scott Hunt of Practical Preppers actually agreed with me on my assessment of one of the segments. I won’t paste the tweet up here, but you can bet I RT’d and Faved it! Maybe they’ll read this and find it in their hearts to give me a backlink from their site! hehe