Supervolcano, BBC1

by | Mar 13, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say of you liked it

A perhaps too-realistic drama detailing the global disaster that would occur should the supervolcano beneath the Yellowstone National Park erupt. Its chilling warning was lucidly exacerbated with glorious computer graphics and a heartrending human story.

What to say of you didn’t like it

Dubious propaganda which seeks to exploit the lucrative doomsday terror propagated by irresponsible media that ensures high viewing figures/ newspaper sales.

What was good about it?

• High production values most notably reflected in the thick choking layer of white ash which smothered large sections of the USA. The initial outdoor scenes took place in bright sunlight to contrast with the impending gloom caused by the sun-blotting eruption.

• The dramatic storyline was well-paced with only occasionally a character lecturing like David Attenborough on the approaching destruction.

• The sparse electronic music, the subtlety abrasive characters and the burgeoning atmosphere of catastrophe resembled an episode of Spooks, with the role of the unstable terrorist being taken by the grumbling volcano.

• The ironic joke of how Mexico had shut its borders to US citizens fleeing the falling ash.

What was bad about it?

• More people have probably been killed by contracting permanent rigor mortis through viewing interminably dull earnest docu-dramas than by volcanoes in the past 50 years.

• It’s another of those enervating docu-dramas about some potential global catastrophe which seems to be exaggerated to the worst possible conclusion for the

guaranteed high viewing figures from a fearful populace rather than being broadcast for educational philanthropy.

• The doom-laden tone was almost enough to make us yearn for a return to power of the Soviet Union with the half-dead Leonid Brezhnev observing the ostentatious military parade through Red Square than have to suffer another alarmist drama about the apocalyptic threat to Western civilisation in the form of precipitous climate change, comets, the Millennium Bug, floods, melting ice caps, global terrorism, SARS, avian flu, the earth’s north and south axis flipping over, a decreasing male sperm count, the Canary Islands tsunami and nanobots turning the world into a grey goo.

• The tagline of: “This is a true story, it just hasn’t happened yet.” This is slightly misleading as the facts state that an eruption is 40,000 years overdue which means humanity has always faced this Sword of Damocles. To start worrying about a super-eruption now is a little futile.

• The splintering footbridge in Yellowstone Lake during the earthquake was straight out of Jaws 2 (or was it Jaws 3?).

• The English vulcanologist pronouncing data as “dartar”.

• The irritating emphasis on the press’s reporting of the eruption to dumbly illustrate the importance as though viewers are too stupid to appreciate the imminent disaster themselves.

• Lugubrious scientist Jock dictating scientific fact like it was a prophecy of doom straight out of Star Wars.

• The gratuitous dispute between Ken and the US soldier as they cower trapped in a bunker over whether the eruption is the will of God or not.

• The lame gauge the smothering effect of the super-eruption had on Britain was signified through the London Eye ceasing its motion. The rest of the nation could be a nuclear wasteland but as long as the London Eye is functioning, Britain is in rude health.

• The corny way in which scientist Rick’s plan for citizens to make their own way out of the disaster zone was officially branded by the Chief of Homeland Security as the Walk For Life.

• The very Hollywood saccharine scenes of crowds of Americans applauding and cheering the news that the volcano has ceased erupting.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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