Monday, November 24, 2008


Not the show where people compete to stay on the island, but the BBC TV series Survivors about a band of people who survive a super-flu that wipes out 90% of the world's population in a matter of a couple of weeks. It's like The Stand without the good versus evil - at least, not yet.

Survivors is based on a series that ran on the BBC back in the 1970s, and has been updated for modern audiences. The first episode opened right as the 'flu crisis' was starting to destroy Europe. After a period of two weeks, the flu has wiped out the aforementioned 90% of the population (although it actually seems much higher than that, with London largely devoid of all life at all in some shots.) Infrastructure breaks down, power and water and cell phone service shut off, and people have to start thinking about living for themselves.

Spoilers may follow...

What I liked:

They didn't spend a lot of time on the apocalypse itself. The show was called Survivors, not End of the World, so that was nice.

They trotted out some pretty tired tropes (the Group Mom, the Quest for the Missing Family Member, the Jaded Scientist, the May-Be-Bad, May-Not-Be criminal, the Girl Whose Mind is Broken by Death, the Loner Survivalist) but managed to update them pretty well. The scene where the kid gets up from praying in the mosque and realizes everyone around him is dead was a memorable 'stay with you' scene.

Lots of strong women.

They're kicking off the survival part pretty fast, and it looks like that will be the focus of the series, at least in the short-term. Reminds me of early (great) and middle (greater) Jericho episodes.

The scene at the petrol (gas, for you American Puppeteers) station was unexpected and awesome. More like that, please. Pleasantly surprise me and I will continue to support you.

What I Didn't Necessarily Like:

It was a Very British Apocalypse. Which is to say, the bodies didn't decompose, there weren't very many of them and things were orderly. People literally died in queues waiting for medical assistance (this is even funnier to an American, I think.) But I expected London to be in flames by the end of it. I realize that part of that was budgetary limitations, but if you want a lesson on what would happen in a sudden apocalypse, watch the first 10 minutes of the remake of Dawn of the Dead: that's the new standard.

The tropes were a little, well, tropish. My wife and I took turns calling out what would happen next, and like the X-Files, we were right the vast majority of the time. A little less predictability would be nice.

Apparently the ratings weren't all that great, so here's hoping the show doesn't turn into another Jericho for me.


The show is off to a very strong start, audience numbers notwithstanding, and the previews for the next episode look even stronger. I'll stick with the show and keep writing about it as it develops. Next episode airs 9pm on Tuesday (tomorrow) on the Beeb...

1 comment:

Annie Mole said...

Agree with all of your thoughts actually - specially that it was a very English apocalypse (ie low budget) However I think the Max Beasley criminal bloke is thoroughly bad - I don't think he'll have much in the way of redeeming features and think he's played really well.

I was kind of sad when the mumsy Julie Graham recovered as she was getting on my nerves but then again, I really liked the scene where the little muslim boy hugged her cos she was the only person who actually treated him like a kid and he could stop pretending to be brave.

Look forward to seeing how it develops. I never saw the original series so have nothing to measure it against.