Having never seen the original version of the Survivors due to my assumption that it was not released outside of the UK until very recently, I was able to take to the new version (well, 2008 version…new for me :P) with an open mind and very clean slate. I was initially drawn in due to the inclusion of a handful of actors I like including Freema Agyeman, Paterson Joseph, and even a very brief appearance from Shaun Dingwall. Of course all three have been in Doctor Who, but I enjoy their performances in just about anything they are in, especially Mr. Joseph. With my love of all things grimy and post-apocalyptic, the immediate premise of Survivors was right up my alley. I’ve been ready for a show in a similar mind to Day of the Triffids, except a bit more modern. Survivors asks the age old question of how humanity will react if we are plunged into a nightmarish world of survival. As many would imagine, some will be heroic, and others will do anything to survive even using others and resorting to evil.
The premise of the show is fairly simple, a woman named Abby comes down with a horrible case of flu that the tabloids and such are labeling the “European Flu”. Much like the media circus surrounding both the “bird Flu” and “Swine Flu” many are freaking out about the whole thing including news agencies and politicians alike. Abby falls asleep only to find her entire world turned upside down when she awakens THREE DAYS LATER. Not only is her husband dead in the next room, but so is her entire neighborhood. Scared for the safety of her only son, she embarks on a quest to find him, alive or dead, and meets the worst of humanity.
While Abby is definitely the main protagonist of the show, this initial episode does concentrate on many other people including Anya and her friend Jenny (a doctor and a schoolteacher respectively), Al Sadiq (the son of a wealthy businessman), Najid (A very religious Muslim boy), Samantha Willis (a media minister for the government), Tom (A prisoner), and later Greg (a man trying to live as a loner with his trust in the world shot). All of these stories are separate at first, but slowly merge together as the survivors begin forming small parties.
As a first episode, this one does a good job of instilling the same jarring horror that was seen in both Day of the Triffids and 28 days Later. In many cases, whatever character we happen to be following is a single entity amongst a mass of decaying corpses, many of which are their friends, family members, and in Najid’s case his entire church congregation. This leaves many to cope a lot better than others, notably the differences between Anya and Abby. Abby reacts in a very strong manner, pledging to find her son at any means necessary. On the other hand Anya initially attempts to end her own life, due to the horrors witnessed at the hospital.
While I’m more into science fiction and fantasy that relies on humor and wit, possibly even adventure as the main driving force, I enjoyed this episode. As dark and bleak as Survivors is, I was still engrossed. Not once did it cross into the “hard drama with a sci-fi veneer” edge that many sci-fi shows faded into. Not that I’m slagging off such shows as being inferior, I just usually don’t like them as a matter of taste. I think it’s just my affinity for post-apocalyptic stories that lets me enjoy even the darkest of the genre, Children of Men comes to mind, while I generally don’t like other similar things. I’ve avoided comparing this show to Lost as it existed much earlier in its previous incarnation, but in a way it is structured in a similar method. You basically have all of these people with conflicting viewpoints, ways of life, and even beliefs forced to work together because the world has been reduced to a matter of “strength by numbers”.
Right now I’m watching this show on Netflix, and plan to finish both seasons. Hopefully at some point I can get a chance to catch the original as well, assuming it has aged as well as most Terry Nation stuff.