21 people from the 21st century are being brought together in an Edwardian Country House. 6 of them are the Upstairs family and the 15 others are the servants. For three months, these people have only the rulebook and each other...
The Year: 1883. The Place: The Montana Territory. The Challenge: Blizzards, hunger, scorching sun, forest fires, the neighbors, and more ... Three modern families experienced life on the ... See full summary »
I am a huge Colonial House fan. I watch it about once a year and it never fails to move me and make me appreciate how much life has changed in 400 years.
So many of the reviews have been very harsh about the cast members failure to completely transform into eager colonists. The living conditions and drudgery that these people endured for FOUR months was astounding. I think people are so used to watching commercial television reality shows that they really fail to appreciate the magnitude of difference between this experiment and a show like Survivor. The first season of survivor took 37 days to film, Colonial house was 120! For 120 days the cast went without access to running water, showers, toilet paper, most foods, fresh produce other than blueberries, mirrors, vehicles, telecommunications, electricity, mirrors, shampoo and hundreds of other everyday items. They ate off of insect covered dishes, consumed rancid bacon and bacteria covered salted fish and mountains of dried peas. When they boarded the boat at the start of the series they didn't know if they would be a servant, governor, a freeman etc. Another important difference between other reality shows in Colonial House is that the cast of Colonial House wasn't competing for 100K dollars. From my point of view there was very little joy to be had and I think the cast made a huge effort and is fascinating to watch and get to know.
The other common criticism of the show is how indifferent the governor and council were towards colonial era laws. The show clearly documented the struggles they experienced in enforcing those laws. Half of the labor force was staked out in isolation at one point for various infractions. It was deemed too disabling to continue so some compromises were made. There were some people on the show who were more willing to commit than others.
If you want to see a bunch of people instantly transform into happily industrious automaton pilgrims for four months, this show will disappoint. If you want to take a really good look at how our physical and social worlds have transformed in 400 yeas, Colonial House is time well spent.
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