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Survivors: The Complete Series 1 [DVD] 
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The complete first series of Terry Nation's acclaimed BBC science fiction drama in which 95% of the population have been wiped out by a freak plague, leaving the remaining survivors to rebuild civilisation. In 'The Fourth Horseman', the scene is set with people all over the world realising that the vicious plague is killing everyone, and they must fight for their survival. Young Abbey Grant is one of the survivors who awakes from a coma to find her husband dead and her village full of corpses. In 'Genesis', Greg Preston returns to England to find his wife dead, so he sets off across the country where he meets two more survivors, Anne Tranter and Vic Thatcher. Meanwhile, Abbey finds herself in a territory controlled by the ruthless Arthur Wormley. In 'Gone Away', Greg, Abbey and Jenny are pursued by Wormley's men after discovering the hanged body of a looter. 'Corn Dolly' sees the trio taking up with industrialist Charles, who seeks to rebuild Earth's civilisation. In 'Gone to the Angels', Abby discovers that her missing son, Peter, might be with a religious group. 'Garland's War' sees Abby caught up in a land war between the ruthless Knox and Jimmy Garland. In 'Starvation', Greg, Jenny and Abby set about making their own settlement. 'Spoil of War' sees the community joined by agricultural student Paul Pitman. He and Greg discover the crippled Vic Thatcher. In 'Law and Order', Abby organises a party - during which Wendy is murdered. 'The Future Hour' sees the community under threat of attack after taking in a pregnant woman. In 'Revenge', the crippled Vic Thatcher is acting as tutor to Lizzie and John, unaware that Anne Tranter, the woman who left him for dead, has returned to the community. 'Something of Value' sees the community raided while Greg is away. Finally, in 'A Beginning', Abby tires of being the community's leader, and sets off to rejoin Jimmy Garland.
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The show is simply extraordinary, its strenght being: realism, relevance to the present, and, of course, excellent screenplay and acting.
Just a few lines from the boxset:"Survivors combines traditional adventure storytelling with a fascinating exploration of the social and cultural impact of the apocalypse: the absence of law and order; the importance of community and interdependence; and the sudden significance of self-sufficiency".
It's inevitable to identify ourselves with the survivors' state of mind, and wonder: what would we do in such a situation?
Just one remark: the lack of subtitles (even the english ones), which I found a shortsighted choice.
Of course in some respects it has dated, not least because of its small budget compared to what we are used to seeing on T.V nowadays. Lack of production values is what many modern viewers see as a sign of poor quality, although really this series, just like'Thriller' and other 1970s shows, is far from amateurish. It has quality writing and acting and, unlike much of modern TV, its direction is never showy, pretentious and self-conscious, but restrained and correct. Also, there is no background music which I found a refreshing change .
That's not to say the series is without its problems, which first manifest themselves around episode 4. After a thrilling and classic first episode (written by series creator, Terry Nation), 3 survivors - Jenny, Abby and Greg - are established as the backbone of the series and the actors playing these parts contribute highly to the success of episodes 2 and 3. But then the writing starts to let them down. Episodes 4 and 5 concentrate far too much on survivalist and apocalyptic ideas and not enough on drama. Characters come and go around this point and the series looks to be losing its way. But don't worry, Terry Nation returns and drama is restored with 'Garland's War' and then its uphill all the way. (If you choose to skip episodes 4 and 5 then you will lose very little in story coherence in my opinion).
There is also a problem with the Jenny character who gets less significant as the series progresses. I'm not sure what her contribution is because she doesn't seem to do anything (something which, I understand, was a source of frustration for the actress herself). Abby and Greg are much more interesting and very well cast (Carolyn Seymour and Ian McCulloch). They play off each other well and need to because their disagreements (which usually centre around the battle between principles and survival) fuel the narrative with moral dilemmas and give it such dramatic impact. Despite both being strong-willed people who don't like to compromise in their views (Greg is a somewhat suspicious loner; Abby struggles to come to terms with her new life for a variety of reasons) the actors inject these characters with humanity and believability, making them sympathetic, compelling and watchable.
In episode 7 there is finally an attempt to establish more characters and stick with them and this is the main reason, in my view, for the improvement in the series from this point. Crucially, the writers brought back Tom Price, who appeared in the first few episodes but was noticeably missing when the series took its mini-nosedive around episode 4. Price is a vital character because not only is his misbehaviour and dishonesty responsible for so much drama (which is brought to a head in 'Law and Order', the best and most famous episode of the series) but the actor who plays him, Talfryn Thomas, gives an excellent, almost comic, performance.
The quality of this DVD is excellent. There are 13 episodes in all on 4 disks, commentary on 2 of the episodes, interviews with the director and 4 cast members (the actors who played Jenny, Abby and Greg and also one with Tanya Ronder who played the little girl, Lizzie) and an interesting booklet which details the history of the series.
All in all a highly recommended buy, especially if you remember and enjoyed the show from the 1970s. Those chilling opening titles (the premise established so economically) and that ominous music really bring the memories flooding back...
99% of the world's population is wiped out by a virus. The survivors find they can't enter the large towns due to the sheer volume of the dead and decaying and are forced to scavange and go "back to basics" in order to keep on living.
This program addresses many practical issues survivors of such a disaster would encounter just living from day to day - in a world newly dangerous. This would have to be the most realistic series to approach these issues I have seen. Even after 30 years much of what it has to show its viewers still holds a deep relevance.
Certinally worth watching and much better than the movie "28 days" I think if you like disaster flicks.
A special mention for the extras - two episodes (The Fourth Horseman, Law and Order) have excellent commentaries and the interviews with various stars of the show are also very good. There's also a useful photo gallery.
Highly recommended. Roll on Series 2!
I always think that the episodes by terry nation seem to be the best - the first is a classic - low key and very effective.
All the leads are good - also believable - especially talfryn thomas as tom price. You would never get a character like that in a modern american sci fi serial. Too old, too ugly and far too REAL !!!
I've only got through a bit of the extra's so far but from what I've seen they are tops & will keep any Survivors fan fascinated. The DVD box is very well designed with some great pictures & text.
Well worth the money.
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