In the early 90s, after countless decades of fear, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the resetting of the doomsday clock pushed the then impending doom of nuclear annihilation to the background of the public’s psyche. With the shrinking of the threat of the I.C.B.M, A time to laugh at the circumstances that almost brought civilisation to destruction, and the idea of life beyond that bleak scenario, is just what the doctor ordered. What America needed was a mirror and that’s what it got in 1992, with the Post-Apocalyptic Comedy, Woops!
After surviving the nuclear apocalypse, teacher Mark Braddock comes across an idyllic farmyard seemingly untouched by the fallout. But the last man on earth realises he is not alone, as he is greeted by a stock trader, a feminist bookshop owner, a ditzy hair stylist, a mortician, and a jovial hobo. Each one having to pull together, put their differences aside and restore civilisation, one farmyard at a time.
The video game franchise, Fallout, has shown that there is a rich vein of humour and intrigue that can be harvested from the radioactive holocaust and what humanity… what’s left of it does next to survive. Woops! shows us the precursor of this. A lot of the day to day episodes cover the gang’s attempts to restore society. Concepts such as money, reproduction, equality, and even the then-upcoming election are all skewered to a hilarious degree. The previous occupants of the farmhouse have seemed to have prepared for anything, as the variety of props and in some cases, lack thereof, really help the adventures.
But while comedy is the primary produce of the farm, the series was also unafraid to tackle the harsher realities of life after the bomb, with equal effect. It takes a significant skill to be able to weave between the opposite themes (usually within the same episode) is impressive. A notable guest of the farm, for instance, must deal with the crippling realisation of his cowardly actions and the survivor’s guilt that follows. While you’re absorbed in the plight of this character, another joke will land spectacularly.
A show attempting to balance conflicting themes like these rests on the strength of its characters, and the six we are introduced to are in peak form for comedy. Like, ruthless Wall Street broker Curtis Thorpe, whose sarcastic remarks and obsession with his tie, were favourite character traits of mine. The way each of the cast members played off each other had real potential to develop into endearing relationships.
Woops! Only occupied the fall season, but at that time, it quickly sets up a smart and likeable foundation of a comedy collective. All but one of the aired episodes are on YouTube and are likely to be the only place you can find this show, as Fox has pretty much disavowed the series. It’s a shame, for as society may eventually crumble in the future, we could use some good pointers on how to rebuild.
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