Survivors: Complete Seasons One & Two
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Survivors (2008): Complete Seasons One and Two (DVD)
A modern remake of the thrilling 1970’s drama! Set in the present day, Survivors takes place in the aftermath of a devastating virus which wipes out most of the world’s population. What would we do? How would any of us cope in a brave new world where all traditional 21st Century comforts – electricity, clean running water, advanced technology – have disappeared? These are the questions faced by the bewildered but resilient group of survivors at the center of the drama.]]>
A plague of global proportions. Anarchy in the streets. The collapse of government and the rule of law--perhaps even the end of civilization itself!--followed by the rise of tyranny and vigilantism. There's heavy stuff happening in Survivors, a British sci-fi drama offered here with all 12 episodes from its first two (and so far only) seasons on five discs. Although it shares a title, original writer (Terry Nation), and several character names with a mid-'70s series, this is apparently not a remake. But the basic idea, detailed in the 90-minute pilot episode, is the same: Present-day Britain has fallen prey to a particularly nasty influenza virus. Within days, it's clear that the disease won't be easily contained; within a couple of weeks, at least 90 percent of the population has died from it, not merely in England but across the planet. As the world as they know it quickly falls apart--no electricity, no communications, no mass transit, no readily available medical care--and those who survived due to immunity start to sort themselves out, the show narrows its focus on one disparate and distinctly multicultural group: Abby (Julie Graham), the de facto leader, who's determined to find the son she's convinced is still alive; Tom (Max Beesley), who was doing time for robbery and murder when the virus struck; Anya (Zoe Tapper), an attractive young doctor; Greg (Peterson Joseph), a would-be loner whose life had already been falling apart; Al (Phillip Rhys), a rich, lazy ne'er do well; and Najid, a devout, 11-year-old Muslim.
The remaining episodes follow this core bunch as they cope with their strange new world--a world in which, as Tom puts it, "we make our own law now." These are people we come to know and, for the most part, care about--especially Abby (one of the very few who contracted and then somehow recovered from the virus) and Tom (whose violent ways make him both an invaluable protector and the object of much mistrust). Other major and minor characters come and go, including various bands of outlaws, thieves, and such, led by religious zealots, power-hungry criminals, greedy entrepreneur types planning to cash in once things return to normal, and so on; there are a few good guys along the way, too. The bigger picture is addressed as well, as a surviving minister (Nikki Amuka-Bird) attempts to put the government back together (using increasingly drastic and outrageous methods) and a sinister band of scientists conduct Mengele-like experiments in their search for a vaccine. It's not all brilliant--some of the hour-long episodes move very slowly (by and large, season 2 is faster paced and more exciting than the first), and there are some mawkish, overly melodramatic scenes. But the central themes (Are people basically good, or evil? How would we cope in a world without civilization?) and characters are enough to make for very compelling viewing. --Sam Graham
A New World
The Making of Survivors
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On this go-around, it's an unstoppable strain of influenza which kicks humanity to the curb, killing off 90% of the global population. The show focuses on a makeshift community of survivors in England, and it really is a particular treat to see repressed British people trying to cope. Associated themes crop up inevitably, mostly revolving around the retaining of one's humanity versus the adoption of sheer pragmatism and aggression in order to stay alive and even to propagate the human race. It's always that same question, right? How do you face the end of the world? With grace, or with teeth and claws? Whenever the infrastructure of society crumbles, it's sort of hard to fit in those civilized sessions of tea and scones.
The cast is a diverse one. Extraordinarily, the mantle of de facto leadership falls on a mother named Abby whose primary motivation is to find her vanished 12-year-old son. Abby is the one who coaxes this pack of strangers to stick together, and she provides the group's moral linchpin. Other members consist of a self-sufficient loner, a rich (and shiftless) playboy who ends up taking a teenager under his wing, a young doctor who'd renounced her calling, and a complex stone-cold killer.
This show didn't last long enough to really explore this desolate new world, and it certainly wasn't special effects heavy. The writers instead focus on strong character development and the premise certainly lends to plenty of fodder. To me, the real hook is Tom Price (Max Beesley), the killer in the midst who now finds himself in a savage world that fits him like a glove. Beesley plays Tom Price as almost inscrutable, very hard to read - and there are many moments when he's just so still - but he lets you know that something seethes underneath the stoic expression. Tom is always assessing and re-assessing. And when he wants to, he exudes a chilling menace. Tom Price early on turns his attentions on Anya, the beautiful doctor (who doesn't want to let on that she's a doctor), and I seriously didn't know where this was going. But, as this relationship evolved, it quickly became my favorite one to follow. Tom reminds me of a murderous but absolutely loyal guard dog. He would kill without remorse to keep Anya safe. Tom and Anya are polar opposites. Anya (Zoe Tapper) hopes for a better world and she cares about people. Tom's first resort is that of violence and intimidation. And isn't love sweet?
Outside forces intrude on our group's struggles for survival. Apparently, the British government still exists, shakily, in the shape of a lone government minister fighting to regain order. Because, even in highly contagious pandemics, a politician, like a roach, is sure to make out okay. Abby and her group get tangled up in the minister's increasingly dark schemes.
Technological amenities are still available for some. Ominous helicopters are glimpsed over the skyline. Black-clad paratroopers scour the empty cityscapes for survivors, except that these soldiers aren't fueled by charity or good will. Somewhere, there is a science laboratory conducting some very sinister experiments. And it's Abby Grant's pure bad luck that she had originally caught the deadly influenza but then survived it. Some very bad men are looking for her now, to open her up, see what makes her tick.
So many things unresolved and unexplored. SURVIVORS' budget didn't allow for a more epic canvas, and so what we get are the little personal stories, many desperate moments of human drama, and I loved these, especially since the episodes do manage to inject action sequences here and there and enough doses of conspiracy intrigue. It's fascinating to observe the shifts of loyalties and personal ties in the group. It's sobering that most of the survivors the group encounters shape more into Tom Price's mold, and how most people in power cling to that very dangerous maxim: "We do what we must for the greater good." It's also fascinating how Abby and the others see Tom, regarding him as this unsavory character and yet so very much dependent on his brutal skills to help keep them alive. Lovely Anya struggles with this the most. I do seem to go on and on about Tom and Anya, huh? Max Beesley and Zoe Tapper, they work these characters so well. To reiterate, it sucks supremely that SURVIVORS got the axe.
Now I'm eyeing the original 1970s series.
Five DVDs compile the twelve episodes making up the first and second series. Regarding bonus material, Disc 2 has "A New World: The Making Of SURVIVORS" (00:26:34 minutes long); Disc 3 offers "Character Profile" clips on series characters Abby Grant (00:04:37), Tom Price (00:04:28), and Greg Preston (00:03:21) and a SURVIVORS special effects segment which features the CGI team touching up the abandoned freeway scene (where Al and Nadj play soccer) and also fabricating the explosion at the petrol station (00:05:48).
So, long story short, if you really liked the show on TV or netflix, buy the Uk version if you can for a similar price. Keep in mind it will require a region-free DVD player (or one that can be programmed to be region-free; this is easy to do with several DVD players). I suggest Philips DVP3560/F7 DVD Player with 1080p HDMI Upscaling and Multimedia DiVX
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