by John Holbo on May 22, 2012

In case you are bored with libertarianism …

I see that Invasion – The Complete Series is marked down 90% to only $7 [amazon]. Do you think that means I should buy it? Let me give you some context: 5 years ago it was marked down 60% and in the end I didn’t buy it. Ha-ha! My frugality pays off! Now I can get a better deal! Or can I? What if it’s bad? Help me to think this through as a rational actor.



Barry Freed 05.22.12 at 5:16 pm

I haven’t seen it myself and have been wondering whether or not to give it a shot (I’ll probably get it from my local public library or through ILL). But I’d say go for it because 1) It’s Sci-Fi, and 2) It’s about 30¢ an episode. What’s not to like?


Philip 05.22.12 at 5:41 pm

You could download the first couple of episodes and see if you want to pay for the rest. Or you could decide if $7 is worth spending to stop wondering whether you’ll enjoy it.


kharris 05.22.12 at 6:10 pm

“blended family…mysterious aftermath…park ranger…divorced father of two…expecting a third child… new wife…long journey into the unknown….tiny town…struggles to rebuild itself… Sheriff…married to (ranger’s) ex-wife…”

Payton place with 21th century bad weather, trite mysterious long journeys, new wife, ex-wife and probably snakes? No. No, as a rational actor, you should not buy it. No.

Allow me to explain more fully: No.


etrece 05.22.12 at 6:16 pm

If you’re a sci-fi fan, buy it, definitely. It’s not bad. Not as good as 1956 nor 1978 versions, but better than 1993 (in my opinion) and 2007 (fact).


bob mcmanus 05.22.12 at 6:30 pm

William Fichtner. $7. Of course buy it.

To me that is a name like Cate Blanchett or Bill Macy or Richard Jenkins.


novakant 05.22.12 at 6:58 pm

What if it’s bad?

Well, people go to the cinema, theatre, concerts, restaurants and on vacation all the time taking that risk – some people even get married and have children … so 7 bucks seems rather small potatoes.


Willie Buck Merle 05.22.12 at 7:45 pm

Ok I bought it. BETTER BE GOOD!


M 05.22.12 at 8:33 pm

Run time is 907 minutes. So, how much is 15 hours of your time worth?

And how much is the time of this blog’s readers worth?
And if you had bought it already would the economy be better off due to the amount of time the readers would’ve spent doing something productive* rather than commenting on this post?

*I am of course ignoring things people do “for fun” as fun isn’t rational. And in our hearts we all know commenting isn’t productive.


gmoke 05.22.12 at 8:42 pm

Read the amazon reviews. That should give you a better idea of whether it’s worth it or not. Believe it or not, they help.


Nine 05.22.12 at 8:43 pm

Oooh, I almost one-click bought it thinking it was “The Invaders” – the one featuring “David Vincent, the Architect who chases aliens 24*7”. You have terrible taste in alien infiltration fiction, Professor Holbo.


Nine 05.22.12 at 8:43 pm

Oooh, I almost one-click bought it thinking it was “The Invaders” – the one featuring “David Vincent, the Architect who chases aliens 24*7”. You have terrible taste in alien infiltration fiction, Professor Holbo.


Neville Morley 05.22.12 at 8:52 pm

It’s not about the price, it’s about the opportunity cost of watching the damned thing. Trust the people who’ve already made that mistake.


Neville Morley 05.22.12 at 8:59 pm

However, the classic German Star Trek rip-off, Raumpatrouille Orion, is going for 9.98 EUR on, including the dvd of the disastrous modern film version, and I have a whole pile of marking to do in front of it. *And* I can claim that it will help improve my German.


Barry Freed 05.22.12 at 9:00 pm

I’m not sure what you’re talking about. It’s got really high-rated reviews on Amazon.


Barry Freed 05.22.12 at 9:09 pm

My German is terrible, is Raumpatrouille Orion subtitled ?

Also I note Farscape for about $50 and it looks like they’ve reissued Lexx so it’s not absurdly priced at over a hundred dollars a season. I’d like to see Space: Above and Beyond come down a bit but I’m just glad it’s on DVD.


phosphorious 05.22.12 at 9:48 pm

@Barry Freed “*It’s about 30¢ an episode. What’s not to like?*”

I once bought 100 movies on ebay for $140. “At $1.40 each, How bad could they be?” I thought.

Long story short: Bad.


The Iron-Tongued Devil 05.22.12 at 10:00 pm

I’m bored with libertarianism, but not bored enough to discuss whether someone else ought to buy an old tv series on dvd. Especially not when second order values are involved.

Similar to phosphorious, 16, I once bought a bunch of cut out Townes Van Zandt cassettes for about a dollar each. (Yes, cassettes. It was a while ago, but a dollar was still something like 1/8 what you’d expect to pay.) What I learned is that although Townes Van Zandt at his best was superlative, he was also capable of releasing some unlistenable garbage.


John Holbo 05.22.12 at 11:44 pm

“It’s not about the price, it’s about the opportunity cost of watching the damned thing.”

But it’s sort of fun to watch the price. What if watching the price turns out to be more fun than watching the DVD’s? I’ll ruin that if I buy it. (Like I said, I want to be very rational about all this, maximizing my viewing pleasure and all that.)


Sancho 05.23.12 at 12:40 am

Bit of a digression, but this seems to be the right crowd: what’s the best post-apocalypse series (print or film) you can think of?


John Holbo 05.23.12 at 12:59 am

I’m a big fan of “The Walking Dead”, in comics form. I haven’t seen the tv series, however.


Sancho 05.23.12 at 1:14 am

I haven’t found any taste for the zombie genre, which is a great shame, because there are so many sub-genres and types of media devoted to it.

I dutifully read The Road, but it was every bit as bleak as everyone warned. The Stand was a bit too supernatural for me.

I rather enjoyed the book of The Postman.

Maybe it’s time to read The Texas-Israeli War: 1999

I’m starting to see a pattern of titles beginning with “the”.


phosphorious 05.23.12 at 1:17 am

A Canticle For Liebowitz

And it doesn’t begin with “the!”


John Holbo 05.23.12 at 1:24 am

“I haven’t found any taste for the zombie genre”

I don’t like the zombie stuff much myself, as a rule. But I still like “Walking Dead”.


Sancho 05.23.12 at 1:27 am

Ah yes. I read Canticle for Liebowitz many, many years ago. Maybe it’s up for another go.


The Iron-Tongued Devil 05.23.12 at 1:35 am

John, 18: “What if watching the price turns out to be more fun than watching the DVD’s? I’ll ruin that if I buy it.”

Yes. But further, but what if watching all of us jackasses fuss over your completely trivial consumption decision is more fun than watching the show? You need to keep us hanging. You’re doing well, so far.

The best post-apocalyptic fiction is Riddley Walker. I can say that with great confidence, never having read/seen any of the other contenders.


Barry Freed 05.23.12 at 1:48 am

Sancho, if it’s series you be wanting Jericho was a pretty good while it lasted but was cancelled after 2 seasons.

As for films there be many. Mad Max and Mad Max 2, The Warriors, A Boy and His Dog, The Omega Man


Sancho 05.23.12 at 1:59 am

Thanks ITD. Sounds not unlike The Chrysalids.

I watched three episodes of Jericho, but got turned off partially by the frankly conservative sensibilities of it – bearded traditionalist man is sensible bedrock of community, while recently-arrived black family is hiding a secret – and the glossy production values that make so many US programs look so samey.

Maybe I’m judging prematurely, though.

A Boy and His Dog is one I really should catch up on.

I read Dr Bloodmoney (Philip K. Dick) while I was in hospital and chock-full of morphine, so my memories of it are weird and blanched, but I think it’s pretty good.


peggy 05.23.12 at 2:35 am

Buy it and watch half of the first episode. If you don’t like it give the discs to a homeless shelter/Salvation Army.


phosphorious 05.23.12 at 2:43 am

Professor Holbo,

It seems to me that the rational thing to do is to wait until THEY pay YOU to take it off their hands.


rea 05.23.12 at 2:49 am

What’s the monetary value of your time? Even at (US) minimum wage your time is worth $7.40 per hr.–you perhaps value your time at a bit more. But the point is, just buy the darn thing, before you spend $7 worth of your time thinking about it.


phosphorious 05.23.12 at 3:04 am

But time spent considering the purchase may prevent wasting time watching episodes. 10 hours worth of cogitation now may save dozens of hours of watching bad tv. It’s called “opportunity cost” I think. But I am not an economist.


John Holbo 05.23.12 at 3:13 am

“A Boy and His Dog”! I’d forgotten about that one. Don Johnson and Harlan Ellison!


oudemia 05.23.12 at 3:34 pm

God help me, but I liked it. (Peggy Olsson was bad news!) It had a very long, building set-up that would have made for really good second season, I thought.


Emily 05.23.12 at 4:27 pm

I vote for buying the Phantom Tollbooth on DVD instead


common reader 05.23.12 at 5:52 pm

Riddley Walker gave me the file name for the risk which could sink my employer when I worked in the periphery of the muni bond business. Some great word play in that book, but it lacks the arc of pity and sorrow that marks A Canticle for Liebowitz.


MPAVictoria 05.23.12 at 7:33 pm

“And in our hearts we all know commenting isn’t productive.”

Says you! One of these days I will succeed in changing somebody’s mind about something. It will happen.


Western Dave 05.23.12 at 7:38 pm

The first season of Jeremiah was pretty good.


Emily 05.23.12 at 8:07 pm

Ooops,The Phantom Tollbooth was about Reason and Rhyme, and this is for Reasonable actors only. Sorry Professor Holbo. F on that one :(


Emily 05.23.12 at 8:09 pm

Did anyone read the Harpers article on zombies and colonialism?


Tangurena 05.23.12 at 8:15 pm

There are a lot of old TV series that I remember liking, and when I watch them as an adult I wonder what was I thinking. And the answer is “I sure grew up a lot”. This series sounds interesting enough, so I got it based on your post.

$7, plus the shipping, comes out to about the price of 3 coffees at the name-brand coffee chain. I think you will enjoy this purchase longer than you would enjoy 3 coffees.


Barry Freed 05.24.12 at 2:05 am

No Emily, I did not and I can’t seem to find it online. Do you have a link? (BTW, Sartre used that image in his intro to Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth though the reference was to the pre-Romero Voodou zombie)


Emily 05.24.12 at 3:16 am

Will try to find one, Barry. From memory, an anthropologist was arguing that zombie lore grew in Haiti as a Master response to the Enslaved Africans believing, homesick and hopeless, that in death they would return to their homeland.
I haven’t heard of the Fanon book before.


David 05.24.12 at 3:52 am

Yeah, A Canticle for Liebowitz .


John Holbo 05.24.12 at 4:08 am

I guess my favorite recent post-apocalyptic literature is Jonathan Coulton’s “re: Your Brains”. Here’s a live version:

Re: “Invasion”. I bought it! Put my 7$ where my mouth is. Or, rather, where my publish button is. This will prevent any recurrence of this post in 5 years time.


Joe 05.24.12 at 4:30 am

It’s true that Stephen King’s The Stand turns into supernatural wank towards the latter half of the book, but the depiction of society gradually breaking down in the midst of the superflu outbreak is a thing of horrific beauty. It is, to date, one of the most gripping and harrowing accounts of the coming of the apocalypse I have read. Be sure to get the uncut and unabridged edition, as most of the good stuff is excised in the standard version.


Emily 05.24.12 at 1:54 pm

Barry, I think I’ve mixed up a letter to the article ( ) with the article itself ( )
My apologies.


Emily 05.24.12 at 1:56 pm

For post-apoc lit I like the YA Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody. There’s a mystical talking cat :)


Jeffrey Davis 05.24.12 at 4:15 pm

You could probably get a good used copy of Background to Danger by Eric Ambler for $7.


Omega Centauri 05.24.12 at 6:13 pm

I sporadically watched the series when it was on air. Wasn’t bad, although I never burned the timeslot into my brain, so I wouldn’t miss an episode. Kind of a better version of FallingSkies, which I gave up watching.
Actually thats just over a buck per DVD. You could always use them as drink coasters….

Just don’t use logic, cause that only leaves two outcomes, both negative:
(a) You watch a few episodes don’t like it and give up.
(b) You get into the story -then the series ends without resolving any of the threads.
I think the second may be the greater punishment.


BillCinSD 05.24.12 at 9:10 pm

I like all the Discworld books after the Light Fantastic for my post-Apocralypse reading

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