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Entry updated 16 January 2023. Tagged: TV.

US tv mini-series (1987). ABC Circle Films for ABC-TV. Produced by John Lugar and Richard L O'Connor. Directed by Donald Wrye. Written by Wrye. Cast includes Lara Flynn Boyle, Mariel Hemingway, Kris Kristofferson, Sam Neil and Robert Urich. Seven instalments, total 870 minutes. Colour.

In 1996 the Soviet Union launches a surprise attack on the US, detonating several very powerful nuclear warheads in the ionosphere over North America. This results in widespread disabling of the Communications grid, energy grid, military defence systems, and all vehicles not in underground shelters which depend on computer components for their operation, owing to the EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) effect. With communications crippled, and unable to contact surviving military units overseas, the US quickly surrenders to the Soviet Union. The subsequent Soviet occupation involves a plan to create twelve "client states" out of the mainland US; it is noted that resistance continues in Alaska. The fate of Hawaii and other overseas US territories is not revealed. Fear of the US somehow revitalizing itself to strike back leads to a Soviet plan to destroy three major US Cities by nuclear attack. A sympathetic Soviet colonel (portrayed by Neil) manages to get this plan cancelled. At the US Congress in Washington, he requests strongly that Congress and government should quietly dissolve themselves; he is turned down, and his men massacre Congress and the Vice-President (what happened to the President is not explained). The Colonel is deeply saddened and shortly commits Suicide.

United Nations forces used as part of the occupying presence are attacked by an underground resistance, although it is implied that after the resistance leader is killed, the division into client states will continue. The Soviet Union and Cuba have already taken over Central America and the Caribbean states, while the Soviets have also annexed portions of China. The series ends with plans to dissolve the US well under way, and with little hope of any serious future resistance.

Produced largely as a rebuttal of The Day After (1983), which the US right wing had strongly attacked, this series was broadcast over seven nights and garnered high ratings despite the wildly unlikely storyline. It may have been intended as unofficial pilot for a never-launched series. Together with such films as Red Dawn (1985) Amerika exemplifies 1980s right-wing Paranoia. The series was criticized by the left as fear-mongering, and by the right as not showing the Soviets as sufficiently brutal. To date it has never been rebroadcast, though a VHS home video release was briefly available in the 1990s. The novelization is Amerika: The Triumph of the American Spirit (1987) by Donald Wrye and Brauna E Pouns. [GSt]


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