BBC‘s remake of 70’s classic Survivors is now available on DVD in a special set of the first two seasons, and the popularity of the show which has also aired on BBC America and BBC Canada is easy to understand.
A mutant flu virus hits, and kills off some 99% of the world’s population. An apparently random set of people have survived, and now have to learn to make their way in a world with no real order, and no modern conveniences. Instantly and unimaginably alone, the survivors form into various bands. The well-meaning, the oblivious, and those looking to exploit the situation the best they can, are all wandering around in a whole world turned ghost town.
Our focus group, who come to think of themselves as something like a family, are –
Abby, a mother who isn’t sure about the fate of her son, and stands out as the only person to fall ill to the virus and recover.
Greg, a loner who is apparently, and ironically, running from the demons of his past.
Anya, a doctor so overwhelmed by events that she doesn’t want anyone to know she’s a doctor.
Al, a playboy-ish character who takes young Najid under his wing early on.
and Tom, a high-security prisoner of apparently serious offense until the virus set him free.
As events progress, and these lost souls form a tentative and delicate bond, they have to face off with a variety of thugs, including the very worst sort, someone trying to reinstate government.
The general struggle leads to enough problems, but there are still people out there, and you can never really be sure who to trust. Adding to the mix, helicopters fly by occasionally, and we learn that they are from a laboratory installation working to cure the virus, because they’ve managed not to be exposed.
While you can imagine the general ups and downs, the story plays out impressively, with a major focus of the series being the ethical dilemmas that arise. Though all the various bad guys may come through a bit flat, our “heroes” are a nice mix of complexities, who don’t always make the choices we expect. Their fit in society before only goes so far in cluing us to the moral stances they will take now.
Overall, the series tends to follow the structure of a sub-group or individual falling afoul of a bad situation, leaving the rest to solve the problem, or perform a rescue, all while loyalties are still in a certain state of flux. The fascination stems from the coming together of so many moral theories, and it may not be as easy to judge as you think. Which is the morally correct stance in this situation? Can it be the correct viewpoint if it is one that is likely to result in all those with the viewpoint falling prey to those with other viewpoints?
Delivered with occasional moments of fun, and downplaying the drama, the series is a fantastic watch.
Considering what we’re looking at here, there’s a decent collection of bonuses on the 5-disc, 12-episode set. The main feature is the behind-the-scenes featurette, A New World – The Making of Survivors, and it’s a nice effort. Though not a massive undertaking, there’s a lot in store for you here, and it is a somewhat unique production which offers a different spin on similar features you’ve seen before. The cast are a lot of fun here, and working on the series is apparently a different sort of adventure from either side of the screen.
The other featurette you get showcases the special effects of the show, and it isn’t bad, but it also isn’t exactly the show you’d expect to find such a bonus on. It isn’t exactly filled with effects magic, and it certainly doesn’t seem to be any sort of driving force behind the entertainment.
There are also character profiles and an Easter Egg.
I definitely recommend checking out the release. It may be a bit on the guilty pleasure side, but it’s a lot of fun and the cast sucks you in.
Check out some clips below, and stay tuned for my review of the DVD release of the complete original series where I will be giving away both DVD releases!
Written by BAFTA Award-winner Adrian Hodges (Primeval) and premiering on BBC AMERICA February 13, Survivors is based on Terry Nation’s thrilling novel about a deadly virus that has swept across the world, destroying all but a random selection of desperate souls. Still alive when so many have died, these “lucky ones” must step into a new world where everything that was once safe and familiar is now strange and dangerous. Among those struggling for survival are Abby (Julie Graham, Bonekickers, William and Mary), a devoted mother with a missing son – Greg (Paterson Joseph, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, The Beach), a loner, hiding the pain of his past – Anya (Zoe Tapper, Demons, Desperate Romantics), a doctor who has seen too much – Aalim (Phillip Rhys, Nip/Tuck, 24), a playboy who becomes surrogate father to Najid (Chahak Patel, No Heroics) and Tom Price (Max Beesley, Hotel Babylon, Bodies), a handsome, yet dangerous high security prisoner before the virus hit. In the ghost cities and empty fields, power, water and food supplies are scarce. Just to stay alive they will have to band together, utilize their talents and learn new skills as they rebuild civilization. But can they all be trusted?
Abby Grant Julie Graham (William and Mary, Bonekickers)
Tom Price Max Beesley (Hotel Babylon, Bodies)
Samantha Willis Nikki Amuka-Bird (The No.1 Detective Agency, Torchwood)
Anya Raczynski Zoe Tapper (Demons, Desperate Romantics)
Greg Preston Paterson Joseph (No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, The Beach)
David Grant Shaun Dingwall (Doctor Who, Moses Jones)
Aalim Sadiq Phillip Rhys (Nip/Tuck, 24)
Jenny Walsh Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who, Torchwood)
Najid Hanif Chahak Patel (No Heroics)