"Everything's all gone to pot," a character says at the beginning of this gripping 1975 BBC series. It's a characteristically understated British way of saying, "It's the end of the world as we know it." Created by Terry Nation, already installed in the cult sci-fi pantheon as the creator of Dr. Who
's Daleks, Survivors
plops viewers down in a postapocalyptic nightmare already in progress. We hear reports of evacuations, massive power outages, and frighteningly large body counts. A globally spread virus has taken its devastating toll, leaving survivors to carry on in this primitive new world. Series 1's key players are Abby (Carolyn Seymour), a widowed middle class housewife determine to find her son, a missing student; Greg (Ian McCulloch), a resourceful engineer; and the compassionate Jenny (Lucy Fleming). The first--and best--13 episodes chart how these three come together and the tentative first steps in beginning civilization anew. A series benchmark is the episode "Law and Order," in which their fledgling settlement debates the fate of one of their number who has been found guilty of murder. As the saga unfolds, we meet some who would like to exploit the situation to exert their own "central control." We meet another, Anne (Myra Frances), a "rich brat" determined "to make sure I get my full share of everything that's going." But Survivors
, bleak as its scenario is, is not without an abiding faith in human nature. Nation left the production before series 2, as did Seymour, who reveals in a candid series retrospective included as a bonus feature that her grappling with substance abuse led to her departure. In the second and third series, Greg, Jenny, and company further learn to adapt "to this ghastly way of life." A gallery of disparate and desperate characters put the tenets of the settlement to the test, while our heroes venture out into what's left of the world, most memorably in the second series' two-parter "Lights of London." Survivors
enjoys a sizable cult following. While not as popularly known in the United States as The Prisoner
(which, like Survivors
, has been given the remake treatment), it should survive and thrive on DVD. --Donald Liebenson
The original Survivors was an 38 episode drama series which aired on BBC1 between 1975 and 1977. The series concerns the aftermath of a plague which had wiped out over 99% of the world's population and the experiences of a group of individuals in England as they grappled with the post-plague world and the trials of day-to-day survival.