Coming In February, 2020: The Day After Review

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I have never been a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and cinema. I realize it is quite popular and trendy these days but to be honest it bores the hell out of me. I could care less about what society looks like two generations after an apocalyptic event has ravaged the planet. The dystopian government that rules what remains of North America holds an annual series of games where young people fight to the death in order to win supplies and food for their areas? Boring. A global pandemic turns the world’s population into zombie-vampires and only Will Smith and his dog survive? No thanks.

I’ve always been more partial to novels and movies that center around the actual apocalyptic event, especially if it’s a nuclear war. How the war came about, how it was fought, and who won are more appealing facets. Unfortunately, only a select few works cover these aspects in detail and do it well. We’ve talked about Threads, a British film centered on a nuclear war, the subsequent destruction of Sheffield, and the society that emerges in Britain in the post-attack months and years.

On this side of the Atlantic, The Day After aired on ABC roughly ten months before Threads came out in the United Kingdom. The Day After centers on a fictional war and how a select group of residents in an affected community cope with the events surrounding a NATO-Warsaw Pact confrontation in Europe that escalates into a full-scale nuclear exchange. This scenario is similar to that used by its later British counterpart and attaches a believable backstory to the film. The impact of the American film was far more significant, however, reaching as far as the White House. Roughly 100 million Americans watched the first broadcast of The Day After on 20 November, 1983 making it one of the highest rated television films in history. Put simply, the film scared the shit out of the country, giving Americans a glimpse of what the future could bring. Keep in mind that tensions between the United States and Soviet Union were dangerously high at the time of its broadcast, rivaling the dark, uncertain days of October, 1962.

With all of this in mind, I believe the time is approaching for an in-depth review and analysis of The Day After. It will come about in a two or three-part series of blog posts beginning on the Monday after the Super Bowl. I realize its still a few weeks off, but I thought it would be fair to let the readers know what’s on the horizon.

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20 Replies to “Coming In February, 2020: The Day After Review”

  1. I’ll look forward to that. I found myself watching this again last week – it’s getting shown in the UK surprising often at the moment (whereas Threads or The War Game rarely get aired…)

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    1. That’s a bit surprising. I had to go to Amazon to find a copy of Threads. But Youtube has The Day After available in clips. Practically the entire movie

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  2. I’d like to see them remake the Day After using today’s scenarios and modern CGI. That was my only complaint with the original. The special effects were “little bus” special.

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      1. I seem to recall there was a TV Series from the late 2000s called Jericho that might fit the bill. Kinda sad though, it was a great show, It just was hampered by having merely a cult following, hell, it was a massive fan emailing and letter writing campaign that got the show renewed for a second season. Unfortunately, poor ratings and a WGA strike didn’t really help matters with Season two, and it got cancelled when it was starting to really get good.

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          1. If you’re in the UK (which obviously you’re not…but other readers of this may be) The Wargame is available to watch online via the BBC iPlayer. You can also find various documentaries produced at the time for BBC TV and/or ITV and the “Protect and Survive” information films that advised on civil defence (which I use in the loosest possible terms here).

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            1. I’ve seen a lot of those documentaries. They’re quite interesting to say the least. Another British nuclear film/tv show I forgot to mention also is ‘When the Wind Blows.’

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        1. I really like ‘Alas Babylon.’ Pat Frank did a good job with the military side of things and that was very useful to the story. I know what you mean. I think there’s a lot of borrowing between apocalyptic books and movies.

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