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'Doomsday Preppers' review: Apocalypse soon

Taja Braxton, 16, is prepared to fight any

Taja Braxton, 16, is prepared to fight any infections that come her way in National Geographic Channel's " "Doomsday Preppers." Credit: National Geographic Channels

THE SHOW "Doomsday Preppers"

WHEN|WHERE Second-season premiere repeats Saturday at  9p.m. Show airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Channel

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The second season of NatGeo's hit series about survivalists launched last night with Big Al (expecting nuclear Armageddon), Jason Beacham (economic collapse) and the Southwicks (a smallpox outbreak). Next week: Meet Johnny O, who crawls around his backyard in a camouflage suit that looks like it was made out of arugula, and another man who's planning for a global flood pandemic: "I'm Mad Max meets Rube Goldberg with a little bit of Al Gore thrown in."

MY SAY Sure, doomsday preppers might seem a little nuts, but after the past two weeks, not so much. There is something discombobulating -- and not just something cold -- about an extended power outage. The familiar well-lit contours of the world disappear when the sun goes down; the darkness is almost menacing.

A doomsday prepper, of course, would scoff at our discomfort -- just wait, they would say, for a real flood to arrive when Greenland melts. And you're afraid of a little dark? How afraid will you be when the entire worldwide power grid collapses -- forever. (Preppers are natural-born absolutists -- everything will be very bad for a very long time.)

For preppers, the apocalypse is nigh, while television and audiences have embraced their prophetic paranoia. A plague of zombies ("The Walking Dead") lies at one extreme, a mother of all blackouts ("Revolution") at the other.

Occupying the unscripted middle ground is "Doomsday Preppers" -- so earnest and so dedicated to the proposition that the end of the world is near that grades are assigned to preppers' various survivalist schemes. A high grade means they'll survive a year or longer; a low one means they're toast. All in all, it's kooky, but still.... BOTTOM LINE These oddballs and flakes -- with their "bugout" hovels, obsessive fixations on food stockpiles and love of high-powered weaponry -- may not seem like ideal companions, but there's little doubt they're better prepared than you or I for the next time the lights go out.


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