20 February 2011

TV Series: Survivors

Survivors
Survivors is a series is on BBC America - it is not an island of random folks voting each other off. It is a series that does the "virus wipes out humanity" apocalyptic aftermath story that follows a group of folks.
Yes, we've seen a few "virus wipes out humanity" stories before: The Stand, 28 Days Later, Andromeda Strain (well, they stopped it in that story), etc. I suppose this series is close to The Stand in that less than 1% of the population actually survives this virus, but doesn't have all the "good v. evil dreaming about corn growing guitar-playing black woman plus rats and fire" stephen king junk going on to muck it up. And yes I liked The Stand - the book (more) and the miniseries - but not in every post-apocalyptic virus wiping out humanity story. So the only thing in common with The Stand is virus wipes almost everyone out - the comparisons stop there.

This one takes place on Great Britain. It doesn't get deep into the worldwide aftermath but one can assume the global survival rates are just as low. Everyone gets wiped out so quickly that modern travel/communication/utilities stop dead fast. The show starts out introducing you to the core cast as the virus begins decimating the population, then you watch as the cast comes together. A diverse cast of strangers with very different personal histories (and emotional baggage) banding together to improve their chances of survival. 

The show started out really strong - great visuals and settings. I fear they spent the bulk of the set and effects budget on the first couple episodes as later episodes are limited in location and scope. Unfortunately it is already starting to get tired in its story formula. Each subsequent show has been basically 'our group' encounters others, interaction takes place, shit happens, 'our group' decides its best to stick together. There's some running multi-episode arc mostly for the female lead (Abby). The others, not so much. Even the best character (Tom the escaped convict) tends to be a supporting one. They are introducing another parallel arc, ever so slowly, tiny pieces doled out each episode. I'm sure in the future there will be a confluence of 'our group's story arc with the parallel one and then maybe it'll pick up some more. Five episodes in and I only had one real big "oh come on" roll-my-eyes moment, so that's a plus.

But I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction so I keep watching it. If this series keeps with the "one or two seasons and out" BBC formula it should be fine. If it's an open-ended series it is going to get tired and old very fast. I just looked it up on IMDB - looks like 2 seasons so far, no announcement of a 3rd season. But it does look like it picks up a little. I'll keep watching.

Edit 1: The season 1 finale seems to have dropped the "meet, stuff happens, leave" pattern. They finally intersected the parallel story line with the main one, leaving us with a cliffhanger. The first episode of season 2 keeps things going pretty well. Still a good series.
Edit 2: Season 2 seemed, by the end of it, even stronger than Season 1. Unfortunately BBC didn't think so and axed the series, so there will be no Season 3. Sucks too - they left us hanging at the end of Season 2.

(original post 16 March 2010)

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