Well, at least there’ll be some good visuals in this one.
The seashore, rising wind, spooky music, immediately followed by a bunch of stock footage of storms. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but this episode might just be a pretty straightforward show about hurricanes without too much craziness.
Nimoy praises the work of newsreel cameramen, as we watch the footage. Really, mostly just a cool montage, and Nimoy saying pretty obvious things about hurricanes – property damage, hard to predict, dangerous. Nimoy claims that the etymology of the word ‘Hurricane’ comes from a powerful Carribean god. Not going to look that up. Sounds cool, don’t really care if it’s true.
Now looking at weather satellite pictures of a hurricane forming. Hurricane Camille, to be precise. Nice. Nimoy starts explaining the physics of hurricane development. Footage of stormclouds and lightning heading towards the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.
Oh! Now we’re inside the cockpit of a US Navy plane tasked with observing hurricanes from close up. It’s like The Dambusters meets Twister. Interspersed shots of the aircrew swapping flight jargon with shots of storms. Nimoy claims that they learn that it is a big storm. Science FTW!
Footage of boat owners preparing for the oncoming storm. Guys in radio rooms start broadcasting warnings. People start boarding up windows. Others gas up cars to drive inland. Some people (possibly including Johnny Utah) go out in the surf. Nimoy intones a list of the sort of people who might stay – “the thrillseekers, the sightseers, the stubborn.” He might be right, the actual footage of the storm is awesome. I don’t mean that in a ‘1990s eXtreem advertising’ sort of way, I mean ‘inspiring awe’. Houses being blown away, forlorn cows on washed out roads, winds and rain lashing down without mercy, a massive tidal surge.
It’s cool to watch – up until you see the injured survivors hobbling through the ruins and water. Takes a bit of the fun away. There’s footage of entire towns in ruins. Nimoy tells us 250 people are dead, and 200, 000 are homeless. There’s a news interview of a woman who is forlorn until she sees that her house is still mostly intact. She literally screams with happiness and relief. Another, less happy woman says that her house is under 12 ft of water. A third woman – possibly the most no-nonsense person I ever saw – assures any family watching the news broadcast that she’s fine.
Nimoy assures us that, even though Camille was the worst recorded storm at the time, worse are coming. Hey, come on Spock. We have emotions, you know. Break it to us gently.
Footage of an old hurricane in Miami. People are riding skateboards, using umbrellas as sails. Nice! Nimoy tells us that Hurricane Betsy was one of the worst in Eastern Florida. The footage bears him out. “The ground floors of houses and hotels turned into rivers and pools. A freighter was beached. Hardcore.
Now we’re going back to the flying hurricane watchers. Nimoy assures us that they’re learning more and this might one day save countless lives maybe. Now a bunch of nerds at the hurricane warning centre, tracking weather patterns with cool old fashioned computers. The people making the electronic music are having the time of their lives. Teletype machines! Squee!
Dr Neil Frank, Director of the National Hurricane Centre talks enthusiastically about new technologies in hurricane forecasting – satellites, radar, planes etc, but bemoans the fact that these tools were yet to improve the accuracy of their forecasts.
The spooky electronic music rises as Nimoy intones a story of destruction and woe, describing Dr Frank’s ideas of what would happen if a hurricane hit 1970s Miami. Lots of talk of the difficulties of evacuating. It’s basically disaster porn, kind of a less ridiculous version of the ‘great conjunction’ story in the Earthquakes episode. Helicopter shots of Miami are interspersed with the grim pictures of a post-hurricane 1926 Miami. It’s pretty awesome.
That time I was talking in the ’90s ad exec way. I mean it’s mildly interesting.
Finally some vox pops with Miamians, who seem clueless about what to do in a hurricane. One woman suggests having a party. Nimoy grimly informs us that some people tried to have a hurricane party in Mississippi during Hurricane Camille. A helicopter shot shows us the hotel that they were partying in and holy crap! It got smushed to rubble!
There was one survivor. Holy crap!
Dr Frank talks about the bitter lessons of Hurricane Camille. He pulls out the line about ignoring history and being doomed to repeat it. Seems fair.
Nimoy concludes by saying that we don’t know how hurricanes form, so heed warnings when they happen.
For once I’m not going to make fun. That’s just plain good advice, Leonard.
Anyway, decent episode. What it lacks in weirdness it makes up for in some truly impressive visuals, and it has a quite worthwhile message about storm preparedness. Sorry that I don’t have a lot to say about it that’s fun. Next time, maybe.
“In the rest of Miami, flooding, severe winds and tornados will damage and destroy thousands of buildings. The death toll could be enormous.” Nimoy plays the most depressing weather man ever.
Visuals: 9/10, Electronic music: 7/10, Nimoyness: 7/10, Mostly making sense: 9/10, Disaster porn: 7/10. 39/50. Distinction.