Survivors Episode 2 (2008) Reaction

The one thing I find most disturbing about post-apocalyptic television shows and movies is the way the film makers can make a normally crowded area look desolate and destroyed. One of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who is an old William Hartnell serial called The Dalek Invasion of Earth. It was the second episode featuring the metallic pepper pots, and as a result of their new found popularity, the production team opted for some on-location exterior shooting. This resulted in an incredibly grim look at London after the Daleks enslaved mankind, complete with an abandoned Trafalgar Square and other London Landmarks full of patrolling Daleks. This same unsettling image is done to a fine degree in the second episode of BBCs Survivors, as we finally see some of the aftermath of the plague. As far as one can see, there are emptied shopping centers, urban blight (most likely from a riot), overturned cars, and wreckage strewn about. These kinds of shows really rely on this sort of visual desolation to look good, and Survivors gets an A+.

We do see our first antagonists of this series in a rival group of survivors with different views on how to stay alive. While our star group hope that everyone will play nice and live in happiness, the truth is that situations like this really do bring out the worst in humanity. This opposition group has laid claim to large portions of territory, especially a well-stocked supermarket. When the survivors come across this they are horrified to see people resorting in such a way. After the crazed gasoline thief that ultimately burnt himself so nobody could share with him, and this barbaric lot, I do believe that our main characters have finally realized how life is going to be from here on out.

We also see a side-story of sorts where a woman uses her looks to seduce a man to not only take her in, but to share his enormous warehouse full of supplies with her. He hopes that she will reciprocate with a relationship with him, maybe even a sexual one; sadly, she is just leading him on. She lures him with promises of a worldwide distribution business for their stock, and he buys it whole-sale. I’m not sure if this character ends up being bigger than she is, but I could see them using her to drive a wedge within the survivor ranks.

Once again, the acting in this episode is superb, and a special nod goes to Anthony Flanagan as Dexter, the leader of the aforementioned gang of thugs. From his greasy hair, to his pale complexion, and his evil demeanor, they really couldn’t have picked a better actor for the job. He’s going to be the guy in the show that any sane viewer is going to root for some misfortune to befall. As for the rest of the cast, I do wish a few of the other survivors would get fleshed out a bit more. Anya, Al, and Najid immediately come to mind in this case. As this is only the second episode, I can imagine that this will come with time.

All in all, this was another fine episode of Survivors. Hopefully the show keeps this quality up and doesn’t resort to either a cheap ending like the Hollywood version of I am Legend or a super preachy one either.

Survivors Ep 1 (2008) Reaction

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.