The book is always better than the movie. We know this. But sometimes you want to kick back with a big bowl of popcorn and watch something instead of reading. There are some really good, and some really bad, end-of-the-world films and shows.
Here are my recommendations for some good ones.
Set 10 years after a virus wiped out all the adults, the titular Jeremiah is searching for the rumored sanctuary of Valhalla in this post-apocalyptic world. If you can suspend your disbelief once again that Luke Perry is in his 20’s, it’s a darn good show.
9. War of the Worlds
The Tom Cruise version. Like Tom Mason and Rick Grimes, Ray Ferrier is just a guy trying to keep his family safe. The aliens have invaded Earth and it all seems pretty hopeless. But fear not, where there is a will there is a way, especially if Morgan Freeman is narrating.
Steven Spielberg directed, and like most Spielberg films it goes pretty great with popcorn and cold soda, and a hint of nostalgia.
This one is a new favorite and I’m anxiously awaiting season 2. The premise of Colony is that the alien invasion happened…and we lost. Katie and Will Bowman and their kids are living under this new regime of aliens and trying to keep things as normal as possible. But Will and Katie find themselves dealing with being colonized but as yet unseen aliens in very different ways.
Under the control of both the humans picked by the aliens to keep everyone in line, and the aliens themselves who can *poof gone* anyone who makes trouble, some people in the colony prosper while others do not. There’s a lot going on in this show and it makes for a great hour (or 40 minutes if there are no commercials) of television.
7. 28 Days Later
An incurable mutated virus has raged through the UK. 28 days later Cillian Murphy awakes from his coma a la Rick Grimes, and discovers the world he knew is no longer. Society has broken down, and now he must survive both the virus and other people.
6. Red Dawn
The 1984 original. NOT the remake. There are no aliens, zombies or pandemics in this one. It’s the beginning of World War III and a group of kids from a Calumet, Colorado are the town’s last best hope.
5. Dawn of the Dead
The 2004 remake of a George A. Romero classic. Watch it for Sarah Polley, who is excellent as a nurse caught up in the zombie apocalypse. One of the better zombie movies of the last two decades.
4. The 100
Apparently The 100 was just noted by Rolling Stone as one of the top 40 Science Fiction shows of all time. The show is very loosely based on a series of books by Kass Morgan.
The premise is that Earth was rendered uninhabitable by nuclear war almost 100 years ago. A small group of people survived by living in space for a century, but they can’t stay up there forever. Now a group of 100 juvenile delinquents are being sent back down to see if the planet can be re-populated. Because there’s no one living there anymore, right?
Aliens have invaded Earth again, but this time we put up more of a fight. Tom Mason and his family are part of an ever decreasing group of survivors organized as the Second Massachusetts, or Second Mass. The Masons and their friends are smart, strong and resilient as they attempt to live and survive years of occupation by the enemy invaders.
There was a slight ‘jump the shark’ bit around season 4, but Falling Skies still has much to recommend it. There are so many similarities between it and The Walking Dead that there are memes about Falling Dead and The Walking Skies, (both Maggies kick ass) but the main thing they share is great storytelling that revolves around our will to survive and our fragile humanity.
Another tv show about a virus that takes out most of the population. This one comes from the UK, and features really good characters and great actors. Crying shame it wasn’t renewed by the BBC for a third season, and be forewarned- season 2 ends with a cliffhanger.
If you’ve never watched, now is the time to start. Amazon has season one on sale at the time this is being posted.
The Walking Dead is hands-down the best screen version- small or big- of the zombie apocalypse you’ll ever see. Focusing more on survival than the gore (though there is a lot of that too, particularly as the show progresses) it is a commentary on what it means to be human and what it takes to survive.
If you’ve already seen every episode, lucky you- you get to watch it all again from the beginning when Rick was as wide-eyed and innocent as baby Judith.
As you can see, The End Of The World As We Know It has a little something for everyone. Zombies? Check. Aliens? Yep. Virus? Sure! Good old-fashioned World Wars? OK!
Honorable mention goes to The Last Man on Earth, which I can’t recommend yet as I haven’t watched it. Guess what I’m going to be doing after I finish edits this weekend?