The original version of Survivors was
broadcast on the BBC
for three seasons between 1975 and 1978.
It was an excellent show, created by Doctor Who scribe Terry Nation,
which explored what life would be like if suddenly 99% of the human
died out. (Read my review of the
original show here.) In 2008 the BBC
decided to remake the series and the results were... not that great. The show lasted for two six-episode seasons,
and while the first half dozen were okay, in the second year the
program took a nose dive in quality and quickly became wretched. It has been cancelled by the BBC so this is
the complete series.
A mysterious flu breaks out, starting in Europe
according to the news reports, but soon sweeps its way across the globe. It's incredibly contagious and very, very
deadly. 24 to 48 hours after the first
symptoms appear anyone infected dies. In
less than a week over 99% of the world's population is dead.
Not everyone though.
There are a very small number of people who are naturally immune
the disease. These lucky few, or unlucky
depending on how you look at it, find themselves living in a strange
where the rules that they used to know no longer apply.
With no utilities, police, or government,
civilization has been thrown back to the Dark Ages, where the strong
The series focuses on one group of people who made it, all
of them young and attractive as luck would have it.
(That's one of the great things about the
original series... some of the characters were old, and others were
unappealing visually. Just like the real
world.) There's Abby, a housewife who is
certain that he son, Peter, is still alive (he was off at boarding
the pandemic hit), Tom, a tough criminal who was in prison when the
started and killed a guard to get out, Greg, a black engineer, Al, a
playboy, Anya, a young pretty doctor, and Najid, an 11-year old Muslim
boy. In the first couple of episodes
they come together to form a rainbow coalition of survivors and bicker
The first season, especially the beginning, plays out a lot
like the original series. That's fine,
there's really not too many ways you can realistically have society
having just about everybody die. Right
from the start the show throws a curve ball at viewers by subtly
happened from the first series to keep people familiar with the
guessing (and surprised.)
One major addition to the new series that works very well is
the character of Samantha Willis. She
was a junior minister in the government and the only official at the
level to survive. She makes her way to
an ecologically self-sufficient government research center and tries to
civilization. She starts off with high
hopes and big plans, but as problems arise she finds herself having to
compromise her morals in order to keep the vision alive.
She presents an intriguing case of
rationalizing that the ends justifying the means.
The bulk of the first season is taken up with the group just
managing to survive. To find food, water
and shelter, and fend off attackers.
Unfortunately, that's where the series starts to go wrong. While in the original series people may have
done things differently than I would have, I could at least see their
for their actions. Not so in this
case. Even months after the death of
humanity some of the main characters are acting like nothing has
happened. They are attacked FOUR TIMES
thinks to get a gun, and even after that only one person goes around
armed. Even if rifles or shotguns are
hard to find in rural England
(something I find hard to believe... you'd think there'd be a fair number
hunters) even a group of kids managed to scavenge up a bow, crossbow,
nasty looking knives. Why couldn't the
People also have a tendency to go wandering off alone,
something that causes trouble enough times that you'd think they'd
around in pairs. But no, even at the end
of the series they act like idiots wandering off by themselves. My favorite eye-rolling moment is a sequence
near the end of the second season when Abby thinks she may have seen
run into a trailer park. Tom goes in,
armed with a gun, calling for the boy by name to come out.
He doesn't say "Your mother is alive and
looking for you" or anything like that, just "Peter!
Even a young kid isn't going to come out of hiding because an
stranger asks him to.
Having said that, I mostly enjoyed the first season.
It was fairly suspenseful and presented some
interesting problems for the group to handle.
What do you do with someone you catch stealing from you? The only options are really to kill them or
let them go. There are also some
mysterious scientists who seem to be connected to the virus in some
manner. They only appear for brief
scenes, usually at the very end of an episode, and the questions that
raise make the series pretty interesting.
Then comes season two.
The second season was a huge disappointment. Instead
of focusing on how the main
characters live and survive in the new world, the show turns into an
action/adventure program where they repeat the same plot devices over
over. Oh no! Najid
has run off we have to find him (this
happened at the end of season 1) Oh
no! Abby's been kidnapped, we have to
find her! Oh no, Tom's been kidnapped, we
have to rescue him! Oh no, Tom and Greg
have been kidnapped, we have to save them!
(Those are actually the plot to the first 2/3 of season two.)
Added to that, the plots are propelled forward by an amazing
series of coincidences. Abby is in a
building where all the lights are off, but there happens to be an
camera that's still operational that is hooked up to a monitor that
happens to be on. She just happens to
glance at the monitor when someone who looks like her son walks by. Wow! Good
thing those lucky events all happened to coincide or else the series
ground to a halt. Things like that
happen over and over again.
The group doesn't worry about food much this season either,
it just comes to them automatically.
When they're low on food, they walk into a random office in a
building and discover a huge cache of food that no one has laid claim
to. What luck!
When that runs out, they get a semi full of food and supplies! Then the series ends with one of the most
ludicrous standoffs in TV history. On
one side you've got the bad guys who have a fully loaded machine gun
sniper on a nearby building. (Granted
he's the world's worst sniper, but still...) On the other side (over a
yards away) you have the members of the group, totally unarmed (they
haven't managed to find a knife apparently) possessing something the
want. So what happens?
The bad guys negotiate and play for
time. What?!! Just
shoot them all, take what you want and
leave! Where did you go to evil villain
The one good thing about the second season is though it
leaves room for more stories, it doesn't really end in a cliffhanger. It's implied what happens next, and most of
the major plot lines have been resolved.
That's about the only good thing I can think of though.
It's no wonder the rating plummeted during the second season. The first season had a pretty stead audience
of 5 - 5.5 Million people (in the UK), and while season two started off
over 5 million viewers, it quickly fell to less than 4 million.
This set contains all 12 hour-long episodes (the very first
episode runs 90 minutes) of the series.
(6 for season one and 6 for season two.)
The show comes with a DD stereo soundtrack that fits the
show just fine. The dialog is clean and
clear and the music has a nice amount of range.
The main complaint I have is with the mixing of the sound, not
transfer on the DVD. The music is mixed
way to high in some scenes, especially in season two.
It's really intrusive and overbearing,
telling viewers aurally what they should be feeling.
If you have to resort to spooky music when
someone's walking down a corridor towards a closed door with someone
behind it, someone's not doing their job correctly.
The widescreen (1.78:1) anamorphic image looks very
good. The colors are sufficiently strong
and the blacks are nice and inky. The
level of detail was very good, better than I was expecting, though fine
weren't as strong in dark areas. On the
digital side of things I have no complaints.
Overall this is a nice looking set.
There are only a few extras, all of them dealing with the
first season. A New
World - The Making of Survivors is a featurette that goes
the scenes and talks with the cast and crew about the show. It was recorded early in the first season,
but it's still interesting. There's also
a featurette on the special effects (which is odd since this isn't an
heavy show) and a series of character profiles.
This is a hard one to rate.
Though it was flawed, I enjoyed the first season and would
to fans of post-apocalyptic SF. I really
disliked the second season, and would give that a 'skip it' if it was a
alone series. The set retails for nearly
$60 for only 12 episodes too, and that's pretty expensive, especially
lack of quality in season two. I think
you'd be best off just renting it.