Entertainment » The Televisionist

When doomsday comes

Plus, Kevin Smith in 'Comic Book Men.'




8 p.m. Tuesdays

The National Geographic Channel

There's a lot of wisdom to the old Boy Scout motto of "Always Be Prepared." You never know when the bad days are coming, after all, and scattered in amongst them are bound to be some REALLY bad days: car wrecks, hospital visits, house fires and sudden deaths. Still, that's not what the folks on the new National Geographic Channel show "Doomsday Preppers" concern themselves with. They're worried about the days that make the regular ol' poo hitting the fan smell like a cool breeze off the ocean: New-Madrid-level superquakes, nuclear war, societal collapse and giant coronal sun-storms that could flash-fry every electric circuit on the planet. Yes, any of those things might happen, at which point the guy with 10,000 pounds of dried beets stockpiled and guarded with booby traps in his basement is gonna look pretty smart. For now, though, while the lights and the cable are still on, watching the folks on "Doomsday Preppers" actually do stuff like retrofit old school buses as armed-to-the-teeth "bug out" vehicles, stockpile heavy weaponry and ammo, learn a rare Pacific Rim language so they can communicate secretly in case of home invasion (I wish I was making that one up) and eat tilapia raised in a converted backyard pool three meals a day while seriously talking about the end of the world does tend to strike one as a little nuts. Sure, I might be able to see one crazy Vietnam vet building himself a barbwire-strung compound in the middle of the desert and hunkering down there in anticipation of the zombie apocalypse, but where does a guy like that find a wife? Some of these folks have whole clans of folks there with them. That's a lot of paranoia in one place, and a lot of time to sit around waiting for someone to say: "Wait a sec. You know crapping in a bucket and living off C-rations on the trillion-to-one-chance that society will collapse is completely insane, right?" Still, like I said, anything might happen. The question "Doomsday Preppers" asks, though, is: At what point do those walls you've built to protect yourself become a prison?


Debuts 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12


It takes a certain kind of person to be a fan of the sometimes disgusting, usually vulgar, often hilarious films of screenwriter and director Kevin Smith. As for me, I'm in bro-love with the guy. Ever since I got hooked on Smith's wry and knowing comedy in "Clerks," I've watched and read pretty much everything he's ever done, including his podcasts, his efforts at blogging, and his non-standup standup specials, in which he kvetches about everything from his films, to wheeling and dealing in Hollywood, to sex with his wife to coming late to the game of being a pothead. Anybody who has ever watched or read anything by Smith knows that calling him a comic book geek is an insult. He's THE comic book geek, the guy who can tell you every origin story and complicated history of every character going. For years now, Smith has owned a comic book store called "Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash" in his home town of Red Bank, N.J. In this new six-part reality series from AMC, Smith and the cast of characters, jokers and hangers-on who work at and otherwise populate the Secret Stash let you in on the Mountain Dew-flavored world of the Comic Book SuperGeeks. Only the trailers are up for the show at AMC.com at this point, but they're enough to give you the rough framework: Smith and company cracking on one another, appearances by comic book royalty, collectors looking to part with their priceless treasures, and an overall fathoms-deep passion for all those comic books your mom threw away when she cleaned out the attic a few years back. Looks like a heck of a good time, especially for fans of rare funny books, Kevin Smith and his work.

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