Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Recreating A Forgotten Sci Fi Classic

When it was first announced that the BBC was going to revive one of what many concider to be a hidden gem among their sci fi collection, Terry Nation's brilliant 1970s series Survivors, there was, as to be expected, alot of debate on the matter, was this really the right time? In an era where we all live in fear of a biological warfare attack that so many strategists say is looming over our heads, was it the right time to remake a mostly forgotten series where a biologically created super virus wipes out 99.7% of the world's population in less then a week and the remaining 0.2% have to rebuild the world on their own? Or could this all backfire in their faces and become a PR nightmare. The BBC walked a very dangerous tight rope on this, which is not very characteristic of them, but with out a doubt, it paid off for them in spades. Even in this day of growing fear of Swine Flu and other things that are in that same category, that speaks alot for the show and its following, a mixture of old original fans, and new ones that weren't even aware of the show's older incarnation, sort of like the fanbase of BBC's other giant sci fi hit Doctor Who, only difference being Survivors fans don't have homemade 1950s style blue police boxes in their living rooms.

Survivors tells the story of Abby Grant, the maternal protagonist and moral compass,[8] is a woman who – having lost her husband David to the virus – is determined to find her missing son Peter, who she insists throughout the series has survived the pandemic. She is very concerned about Peter's well-being, as he was in remission from leukaemia and was enjoying an outdoor adventure holiday at Castle Crag Adventure Centre in the Peak District when the virus took hold. Abby has been told by Callum Brown, the last surviving instructor and sole survivor at Castle Crag, that Peter was one of the first boys to be taken ill and had been taken to hospital by another instructor named Phil Emerson. However, Abby failed to find Peter at the hospital and her son's present whereabouts currently remains unknown. With her inherent virtue, Abby unites the series' first group, within which she strives to maintain peace and welcome new characters – as well as looking for any lead, no matter how small, that will one day reunite her with Peter. She is the only character to have survived the virus without immunity. the Rest of the cast is as follows...

Greg Preston: Greg first encounters Abby on the motorway. His original wish is to be self-sufficient and alone, but as Abby convinces the other survivors to come together he decides to remain within the group. Greg is shown to be more prepared than most to survive in this post-virus world, having immediately assembled a range of necessities from an army and navy surplus store. The idea of a relationship between Abby and Greg is hinted at in the first series, with moments in which he seems to have feelings towards her.

Dr. Anya Raczynski: Anya was a doctor in a busy city hospital when the virus struck, and watched hundreds of patients die of the virus, including her friend Jenny Walsh. After helping a severely wounded Tom, she joins the group. In an internal struggle to rationalise why she has survived, she rejects her medical profession. She discloses that she blames herself for having been too inexperienced to save any of her patients, particularly Patricia, her former lover. With the encouragement of Abby, she composes herself, and goes on to successfully deliver a breech birth.

Tom Price: Tom Price is a toughened criminal who was serving a sentence of at least twenty years for murder in HM Prison Wandsworth when the virus struck. He and the rest of the prisoners were isolated under orders from the Prison Governor, i.e. locked in their cells, to try to prevent the virus spreading, but it was no good. Eventually, Price found himself alone with the last surviving prison officer, Gary Wilson; the other prisoners and prison officers, along with prison physician Dr. Colin Thompson (and, presumably, the briefly-mentioned but unseen Prison Governor), having all died. In spite of the fact that prison rules and regulations now no longer applied, Wilson refused to release Price who, as far as he was concerned, was still a prisoner of Her Majesty's Government. Wilson resented the fact that Price had survived the virus, and was determined to do his duty and ensure that his prisoner served the remainder of his sentence. Price escaped after killing Wilson and made his way home, only to discover that his mother had died from the virus. Fearless and strong, Price is able to kill without remorse. Largely through his relationship with Anya, becomes quite loyal to the group. He is not a conventional team player as he is always willing to fight to ensure his comfortable place within it. Throughout the series, it has been hinted that he may have had a previous military background, which possibly may have had direct or indirect connections to his incarceration.

Al Sadiq: Al is the son of an immensely wealthy father, and had only known fancy hotels and a workless and materialist lifestyle. He had spent the night with Simone, a girl he had met at a nightclub, and got a terrible shock when he discovered the next morning that she had died from the virus. Al was unprepared for life without modern technology, but after finding Najid alone in the city, Al took him along, soon developing a paternal relationship with him.

And finally the youngest of their group, Najid Hanif: Najid is an 11-year old boy and a devout Muslim, who is shown to be praying at the time when the virus eradicates the remainder of the world. He awakes in the mosque to find the entire congregation, including his parents and the rest of his family, dead. Najid runs away, and meets Al. After establishing that Al is not a paedophile, Najid accompanies him as the pair joins the group. Najid's father had told his son that if he should find himself alone, he should tell the authorities that he has cousins in Blackburn, but as there are no longer any authorities, Najid does not known his cousins' address and there is no guarantee that they are still alive, he is set to remain with the group for the foreseeable future. Shown to be a friendly and considerate boy, Najid is adopted into the group with the most ease, and makes close bonds especially with Abby, Al and Anya.

Along their way together they encounter other survivors notedly, Samantha Willis, the last surviving member of the British government, who has built a colony on what she says was a safe house built for the British government and royalty incase a global catastrophe happened, her colony has running water, heat, electricity and all of the things life had before the virus decimated the world, however it is not the peaceful heaven on earth she wants you to think it is, with swift and brutal justice with out compassion or fair trail, those who cross Samantha and her colony often find themselves dead rather then let to go about their lives, Samantha later tries to form a larger colony, enlisting local thugs as security and taking down the names and what each person did before the virus to see who can be used where. Sarah Boyer, who has a very uneasy and at times not existent place in Abby's group, before the virus she was a spoiled party girl who lived a life of privilege and excess, when she's found in a warehouse for a local food supplier by Greg, you learn she's been living there in exchange for sexual favors to the man who ran the warehouse before the virus, Bob. Bob breaks his leg and Sarah leaves him there to die going off with Greg to join Abby's group, its later discovered that Bob survived and is working for Samantha. Sarah betrays the group to Samantha by telling her that Anya is a doctor, the group fights back when Anya is taken from them because Samantha decides the colony needs more doctors. And finally there is Dexter, a small time thug who runs what is left of Manchester city, he and his band of thugs are armed to the teeth and cause many problems for Abby's group, they later become a security force for Samantha when she decides to expand her colony and encompass all the survivors in the area. Tom has an almost animalistic hate for Dexter, and has stated many times, as well as coming close, to killing him.

The series really is as brilliant and groundbreaking as it was in the 1970s, we, as a people are still literally hanging on the edge of a pandemic flu that will wipe us out on a daily basis, there is always some virus thats just barely missing a mutation that can turn it into a super incurable illness that'll spread like wildfire, its a fear that was turn in the 1970s when the late great Terry Nation wrote the book then created the series, and its still true to this day. it also makes you wonder, in those days that turn into weeks, that turn into months that turn into years after a virus that wipes out almost all of the human race, what will happen to those left behind? When society falls, will we all descend into an anarchistic lifestyle of raids and pillaging and taking what and who we want by force? The series tries to answer these questions and many more as it goes on, and whats interesting is, as it answers questions, it leaves more unanswered or brought to mind, I love when a series makes you think about the global impact instead of just whats effecting the people it focuses on, after all these shows have entire worlds they happen in, its not just a bubble, specially when its a world thats eerily close to our own.

So if you're interested in an interesting take on what could very well be the future of the human race, or are just a fan of post doomsday stories that are deep and at times down right terrifying with how possible their fate is, you should give Survivors a shot, I doubt you'll regret it.



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