Television Review: “Oil Storm,” on Fx
I was very interested in the teasers shown on Fx for this original production. The catchphrase was “America’s Lifeline Has Been Severed!” After all, I have Fx to thank (blame?_ for some of the best television (and lost sleep) this side of “Deadwood” over the past couple of years. Their boundary-stretching series “The Shield,” “Rescue Me,” and “Nip/Tuck” are, for me, must-see TV. I was intrigued at the premise for the story, at least, as it was presented in the teasers. I was terribly disappointed in the actual production, “Oil Storm.”
It was a story set in the hurricane season on this (2005) year. It follows the domino effect of a category 4 hurricane hitting the Houston port and refineries and knocking out our oil supply. As the sequence of events follows – rising oil prices, rising food prices (related to trucking and transportation costs), job loses – the story fell, progressively, apart. The dominos – supertanker crashes in the Gulf of Mexico, increased troop requirement to shore up the security of Saudi Arabia, a Russian immigrant (naturalized to U.S. citizenship) being appointed our “Oil Czar,” striking a deal with Russia and Vladimir Putin for oil and, then, being outbid by China for the oil, etc. – became less and less tenable. To make a long story short, America fell apart, went through a full depression and recovered fairly well over the space of 3 or 4 years. But, “we were never the same.”
I really didn’t mind the “pseudo-documentary” (think “War of the Worlds” TV-style) format. I did find it amusing that, after each commercial break, they would should the obligate “This is an entirely fictional account….” as if anyone, at least those who claim to reside on the proper side of the sanity gap, would think what they were seeing on television was actually happening. The acting was extremely poor and the characters – the family who owned a gas station and lost a son protecting the Saudi pipeline, the Russian-born U.S. “Oil czar,” the farmer who went to jail protesting loss of farm subsidies (“food not oil!”) and his wife – were all unconvincing and mediocre actors. Even the fake newscasters were not believable. The riot scenes (yes, there were riots in America’s streets) looked like film jacked from riots over the World Bank or the G7 conferences.
Then, again, it was my little inner voice saying “this could never really happen.” And, in my blissful naivety, I am pretty sure it couldn’t. It did make some significant points about our reliance on foreign oil and the extent to which we base our – at least according to this story – entire economy. Hopefully, it was a success in convincing a few folks to park their SUVs and get smaller, more efficient cars. Equally optimistically, maybe it made a few viewers more aware of the house of cards the oil industry has put in place. But, it could have done those jobs much better and with more conviction. I expected more from Fx.Powered by Sidelines