Did we like it?
While we were mightily impressed by the look of this re-enactment of the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, it crashed into the crevice between the two stalls of drama and documentary.
What was good about it?
• The focus on four characters who were caught up in the disaster that killed more the 36,000 people – Dutch colonialist Willem Beijerinck plus his family (he survived by tying himself to a tree; they survived by hiding in a wardrobe); scientist Rogier Verbeek (he survived by being away from the main area of destruction); lighthouse keeper Jacob Schuit (he died as the lighthouse was swamped by a 40-foot wave, but his wife survived because she was out trying to find the family’s dog); and Captain Lindeman (he survived after tying himself to the wheel of his steamship as he saved the lives of the odious passengers and the shackled coolies below deck)
• Every special effect was convincing, from the tsunami tearing up villages to the ash shower that rained down on the survivors
• We love Rupert Penry-Jones and he was the star of the show as the colonialist with a heart. Even when smothered in ash and with much of his skin burnt, he looked hot, literally and figuratively.
• Darrell D’Silva as the captain, Ramon Tikaram as Beijerinck’s loyal sidekick Tokaya and Olivia Williams as Beijerinck’s wife also stood out.
What was bad about it?
• We needed to watch the accompanying BBC2 documentary to really get to grips with the science of vulcanology.
• The BBC is making a too many of these reconstructions of destruction, picking up ratings from other people’s misery.