The grandeur and sadness of a post-human Earth will be coming back to your TV screens soon. The History Channel is turning its hit documentary Life After People into a series, with more stunning visuals.
A staggering 5.4 million people watched the Life After People special back in January, the most in the history of, well, History (formerly the History Channel). One of a number of books and specials exploring the future of this planet if humans suddenly vanished, Life After People was successful enough to warrant an entire ten-episode series, further exploring the premise.
I wouldn't necessarily have thought there was ten hours worth of material to be had from this idea, particularly when the original documentary covered so much ground, but the series has quite a few tricks up its sleeve.
The series premiere, "The Bodies Left Behind," makes the rather unusual move of looking at what will happen to those already dead when all the living humans disappear. The episode explores everything from Egyptian mummies to cryogenically frozen bodies, comparing their potential longevity with more abstract attempts to preserve humanity for posterity, such as the Sistine Chapel or the Statue of Liberty.
"Outbreak", the next episode, does what any good second episode should do and unleashes some utter chaos. All the pets roam free, plants grow uncontrollably, and viruses that humans had conquered return with a vengeance. The third episode, "The Capital Threat", appeals to the patriotic side of our post-apocalyptic voyeurism by examining the fates of various symbols of American democracy, from the Washington Monument to the Constitution.
Throughout, Life After People will feature interview from experts in all relevant fields, including engineering, geology, and archaeology. The series will also visit sites that humans have already left, such as Japan's Hashima Island, a former coal-mining facility that was once the most densely populated place in human history before its abandonment in 1974. And the series promises to continue the original special's proud tradition of examining what happens to skyscrapers when all the humans leave (I can't help but suspect this whole enterprise is really just a serious, high-minded attempt to make The Simpsons' vision of the Fox special When Buildings Collapse into a reality).
Get ready for the return of Life After People, with this trailer for the original special. The series debuts at 10 pm on Tuesday, April 21.