What if Lord of the Flies
was originally written as an ABC Afterschool
Special and Lady Gaga was hired to do the makeup?
It would have looked just like The Tribe.
Hailing from New Zealand, The Tribe is an unusual
It's a post-apocalyptic teen drama/ soap opera, two genres that
wouldn't think would meld together very well, and for the most part
don't. Since it's aiming for a younger,
mainly female, audience a lot of the staples from end-of-the-world
thrown out the window (there's almost no violence or even weapons for
and that's replaced with love triangles and outlandish makeup. The program was on the air every week for
five straight years starting in 1999 with no breaks.
That's 260 episodes, which is pretty
impressive. So it's obvious that the
show has a following, and it does get some things right.
Not widely seen in the US, Shout! Factory has
now made the first half of the premier season available to viewers in
The show starts roughly 9 to 12 months after a deadly
disease has wiped out all of the adults in the world (and though it's
explicitly stated in the show, apparently all younger people who are
intelligent). Like in Lord of
the Flies, the children are left
to fend for themselves and soon turn feral.
In at least one large (unnamed) city, they've divided into two
tribes, the Locos and the Demon Dogs. Trapped
in the middle is a pair of kids in their upper teens, Amber and the
younger Dal. They're trying to get out
of the city and head for the countryside where Del has the excellent
starting a farm and trying to grown his own food.
They're hiding from the Locos, who drive around the city in
a police car hunting for any stray survivors.
They never seem to find many however, because they do this with
siren wailing (you'd think that'd get old after about 10 minutes) and
warns off loners like Amber and Dal.
Cloe, one the other hand, an 8 or 9 year old girl, has managed
this long by totally ignoring the warning signs that the bad guys give,
loud police sirens, and stands in the middle of the street petting a
found as the Locos get near. Lucky for
her Amber sees her danger and pulls her under cover at the last moment. the three of them then scamper off to a
playground where Cloe's friends, Patsy and her deaf brother Paul, along
the teen who has been watching them (though not very well, obviously),
The younger group is tired and hunger, and Amber offers to
share what little food she and Dal have.
Before they can feast though, wannabe thug Lex, his dim-witted
Ryan, and junior mol Zandra arrive and are going to steal all of the
leaving the group to starve. Only the
well-timed entrance of the Locos and the chaos/ amazing coincidences
follow, allows everyone to escape.
Amber and the kids end up in an abandoned shopping mall, and
where they regroup and take stock of their situation.
Just as they're about to break out the grub
however, Lex and his two cohorts show up and once again (imagine the
the other group with bodily harm if they don't turn over all of their
food. Luckily Lexx et al are standing in
just the right spot so that Jack, the heretofore unseen kid who lives
mall, can trap the nogoodniks between two sets of security gates with
machina-like timing. (Jack could
apparently secure all of the main entrances, but just chose not to. Maybe he wanted the other tribes to loot all
of his stuff.)
Though there are no locks on the gates, Lex's trio doesn't
think of trying to lift them and so they're stuck.
Though he promises, repeatedly, to get even
with Amber and the others they decide he's probably a decent chap deep
not only let him out, but offer to let him join their group.
So, while Dal's idea of moving to the country and farming is
practical, logical, and sensible, Amber decides that the little kids
be able to make it out of the city (though that seems to be simplicity
later in this season). She decides that
everyone should move into the mall with Jack.
Like I said earlier, all of the smart people have apparently
They form their own tribe, the Mall Rats, and it's soon
joined by Bray, a hot, mysterious, guy and a pregnant girl he brings
Trudy. While Bray is confident and
resourceful, Trudy is just the opposite.
She's needy and whiny and the only reason she's allowed in the
because she is very pregnant. But is the
baby Bray's?? Later the group is joined
by Tai-san, a very spiritual young lady, and KC a talented thief.
The plots tend to revolve around the characters than their
situation, which is more of a backdrop.
Yeah, they do face some problems like a water shortage and the
present threat of being attacked by the Locos, but the main focus is on
group gets along. It is a teen drama
after all. At first the near constant
conflict between Amber and Lex is the focus, but soon love triangles
pop up all
over and they take center stage. Trudy
loves Bray, but while he wants to protect her, he doesn't love her. Salene falls for Bray too, and he might like
her, but Trudy starts to hate Salene and accuses her of trying to steal
baby. Then Dal starts to like Trudy even
though everyone's tired of her whining and drama. Of
course Zandra won't sleep with Lex (since
she's sure he'll loose interest once he gets what he wants) so he
putting the moves on Tai-san who's more open and relaxed about sex but
gets Zandra angry at both her and Lex while Ryan quietly pines for the
that loves his best friend.
The show makes several missteps, most right at the
beginning, and it's hard to get past some of those.
It feels like the writers struggled with how
to start things off, so they just started with everyone dead, the
gone, civilization destroyed, and the main tribes already fighting for
control. That may teleport the show to
the point where the plot starts to develop, but it also raises a lot of
questions. How did the youngest kids
survive? Where have Amber and Dal been
all this time? Why didn't they leave
sooner? And why are there fires
constantly burning in the streets through the entire season?
Okay, I can ignore that.
A post-apocalyptic story should take some effort to think
about the circumstances that the characters are in, and this show
doesn't. There are no weapons for
instance. No guns. No
They show some people carrying walking sticks, but that's about
it. (At one point someone points a plastic
at a friend in a menacing manner, but that's about it.)
You'd think in a dangerous society someone
would think to pick up a baseball bat or a length of pipe, but
not. Food isn't really a big issue
either. Everyone complains about being
hungry, but the ration canned food and it never seems to run out. At one point someone scavenges a head of
lettuce from the city too. After a
A lot of this has to do with the intended audience.
You can't have a show with gun battles and
food riots and expect 11-15 year old girls to tune in.
That's why there's so little violence in what
should be a very violent place. All of
the nasty stuff is implied, and even that is very slight.
At the beginning of one episode a Demon Dog
is captured by the Locos and they show him being tied to a post while
captors dance around him. He doesn't
look scared, just bored.
Then there's the makeup.
In order to bring in the target demographic someone decided that
everyone should paint their faces with outlandish makeup, both the boys
girls. And wear funky hair styles. And change both of them frequently. Apparently after all the adults die canned
food will be in short supply but Revlon products will be very
plentiful. (So plentiful in fact they even put it on their dog.)
I'm being a bit too harsh on the show. It
does have some good moments and generally
improves as it goes on. The teen-drama
aspect, taken by itself, is pretty good.
The characters are developed fairly well with only a couple of
exceptions (one of whom just disappears against all logic and is never
from again), and I have to admit that some of the subplots are
I'll also admit that the show must have had a very grueling
production schedule. With 52 episodes a
year for 5 years, it's a wonder the plots stick together as well as
do. I can also forgive the writers for
some clunky dialog and the actors for some less than stellar
performances. They couldn't have had a lot
of time to
rehearse and learn their lines, and they are just kids after all.
The show also gets a lot of points for tackling some mature
subjects and not talking down to their audience.
Teen pregnancy, sex (and especially the need
for birth control), depression, and suicide are all discussed in a
but not preachy manner. It's refreshing
to see a show that treats teens with respect and realizes that they can
appreciate and handle mature themes.
The first half of season one, 26 episodes, arrive on four
DVDs housed in a single-width quad case.
The Dolby digital stereo soundtrack is clean, letting the
absolutely horrid theme music (a soft rock love ballad that does not
mood or theme of the show at all) come though clearly.
Why they decided to go with that song, and
reuse that one song over and over, I have no idea.
There were one or two dropouts, where the
audio totally disappears for a split second in one episode, but I'd be
to bet that it was a problem on the master tapes and in any case a
second out of
10 hours worth of content I can live with.
The 1.78:1 widescreen image looks surprisingly good.
The colors are solid and the level of detail
is fine. There was some minor banding in
a couple of places, but nothing major.
Overall the show looked better than I was expecting.
Nothing. There are no
extras at all. I was pretty disappointed
in this. The show is supposed to have a
cult following and I'm sure that there's some video extras that could
included. I would have enjoyed seeing
fans talk about the show, because I really don't see why it has a
Don't go into this show, as I did, expecting a
post-apocalyptic tale of survival.
You'll be disappointed. You have
to be looking for a teen soap opera. If
a cast of semi-interesting characters who don't have to worry about
hassled by their parents are what you're looking for, then this might
your alley. Just look at the destruction
of civilization as a bonus. Even so,
best make it a rental.