Occasionally in this job, you just end up scratching your head — like the fact that the 2008 special “Life After People” became History’s most-watched program ever (as opposed to, thank God, the most-watched program in history). Such results demanded an encore, the product being a series that explores the not-so-burning (if slightly creepy) question as to how long various objects would endure if humans suddenly disappeared. It’s inane for several reasons, not the least being that this really belongs on the post-History channel.
Pity, really, the “experts” who agreed to lend their insights into this thumb-sucking enterprise, discussing how long it would take before the Astrodome collapses (spoiler alert: 100 years) or the Statue of Liberty starts falling apart.
“In every episode, viewers will witness the epic destruction of iconic structures,” the press release states, relying on special effects that range from reasonably impressive to roughly the quality of the animation on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”
During the premiere, decades of post-human neglect cause the city of Houston to revert “back to the swamp it once was,” which is silly, since Houston is pretty much an unlivable swamp right now. Other landmarks that feel time’s wrath include the Sistine Chapel, the Sears Tower and King Tut’s mummified remains.
“Life After People” reflects what passes for out-of-the-box thinking for a niche network like History, but the real shame is that a concept this bizarre would prove so rewarding by today’s modest rating standards as to inevitably trigger more of the same.
“Welcome to Earth. Population: zero,” the narrator says at the outset.
Faced with the option of sitting through subsequent hours of “Life After People,” the same description could apply to my living room.