Preliminary Note: I’ve decided to try Terry Nation’s post-apocalyptic drama Survivors (1975-1977). For the background and history of the show check out the Wikipedia entry. Terry Nation might be best known as the creator of the Daleks in Dr. Who and Blake’s 7 (1978-1981).
You are welcome to watch along with me (episode 2 is on YouTube). I cannot promise how many episodes I’ll get through or at what rate I’ll watch the show.
This will not be a formal review but rather an informal/brief collection of ruminations.
Previously on Survivors (episode 1)…
In the first episode “The Fourth Horseman” (full review), the narrative followed the flight of two women, Abby and Jenny, in the immediate aftermath of “The Death.” This disease wipes out 4,999 out of every 5,000 humans on the planet within a few weeks. Abby, who lives a normal upper middle-class life outside London, contracts the disease and miraculously survives. Her husband is less fortunate. She sets off to find her son Peter, who might have survived the pandemic at his boarding school. When she arrives, the school is empty but for one elderly teacher, Dr. Bronson, who warns her of the horror to come. Abby resolves to find new survivors and sever herself from her previous life: she cuts her hair, burns the her house with her husband’s body, and sets off to find her son. Jenny, a working class London dweller, flees the city after the death of her roommate and the warnings of a kindly doctor. She encounters a range of fellow survivors—from street hooligans to money hoarders waiting for it all to end.
Take-away line/thematic thread:
Dr. Bronson: “The real survivors will be those who will come through what will follow.”
Season 1, Episode 2: “Genesis”
Greg Preston, an engineer, arrives from mainland Europe (also devastated by “The Death”) to discover his wife dead. He encounters Anne, an upper class survivor without practical skills, who begs for his assistance in rescuing her companion Vic, crushed by a tractor. Despite Vic’s extreme injuries, Greg attempts to ease his suffering. However, Greg grows frustrated with Anne’s fixation on acquiring servants, supplies, and resurrecting her blood right to power and wealth. She orders Greg to “find people who would be willing to work for us.” His desire to assist Vic compels him to set off for additional medical supplies. When he returns, Anne lies that Vic is dead. They set off, leaving Vic suffering and alone.
Jenny continues her aimless wandering–desperate to encounter anyone who will keep her company. She meets up with Grant. Abby continues her search for her son Peter and encounters Arthur Wormley, who has gathered a group of men with guns in a house with a well and electrical generator. Wormley, a former trade union president, proclaims his divine right to rule: “Somebody’s got to unite those groups. To bring them under control.” Abby, inspired by the words of Dr. Bronson, unveils her desire to create a society that is “more and more self-reliant.” Wormly’s power resides with the gun and visions of autocratic power. And when Abby emerges from a hot shower, his brand of justice results in the murder of an armed man from a similar gang as his own.
Abby flees. And sets up a beacon at a church–she will create her own community. Grant and Jenny see her beacon at night and set off for her church.
I found “Genesis” to be an improvement over “The Fourth Horseman.” The seeds of future strife unfurl in disturbing directions: including class conflict, contrasting ideologies over the role of government, whether to scavenge or create anew, and autocratic dreams of petty men and women in the post-democratic landscape. The first villains and unsettling figures emerge. Anne desires to recreate her high class existence, replete with wealth and servants. Her true colors emerge when she lies about Vic—and leaves him, crippled, to suffer alone. Arthur Wormley, the leader of an armed gang, proclaims his divine right to resurrect England’s government and dole out justice at gun point. Future conflict is inevitable.
The main characters are evolving as well. Jenny’s desperation to find others willing to stay with her grows. She begs assistance from whoever she encounters: “Take me with you, I don’t want to be by myself anymore.” Abby, who as of now is my favorite character, takes Dr. Bronson’s warning to heart that the real survivors will be those who live through the aftermath. However, her idealism informs the manner of her survival. She flees the brutality of Wormley, and sets off to create her own community. Force will not be the ties that bind. Greg seems to be a legitimately good person horrified by Anne’s grasping visions.
In the discussion on my review of episode 1, Survivor‘s use of music and sound came up. The overall feel, cemented by episode 2, clashes with the thriller-esque theme music of the title credits. The show itself resorts to the sounds of nature—running water, the mechanical tractor lift, fires, birds, sheep—to emphasize the drastic changes that have occurred. I suspect this is due to the complete lack of a budget for more than the theme song. Regardless, it adds to the air of realism.
Next Episode: “Gone Away”
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