BBC: Remake Of 1970s Survivors Series

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In the 1970s, British TV writer Terry Nation created a series called Survivors (not to be confused with the recent reality game show, Survivor, the singular).

I didn’t see the series in the U.S. when it originally aired decades ago. It’s one of a handful of British TV series that slipped by me.

Now, the BBC has decided to “re-imagine” Survivors under the stewardship of Adrian Hodges.

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A flu has enveloped England. This begins as background noise in the opening of the first episode.

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As the episode progresses, people begin to drop in the street from it.

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It’s a nasty flu, creating sore lumps at the pit of the arm.

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The Government eventually heightens the threat of the flu but never reveals the true seriousness of it, to prevent panic.

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People are still told to get flu vaccines.

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But the vaccine is worthless. People are dropping dead. Lots of people are dropping dead.

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And not just in England. All over the world.

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Within days, most of the world’s population has succumbed. Billions of people have died.

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At the end of the opening episode we are left with a handful of people we’ve been following. How will they survive? In fact, how did they survive the flu? (One of them lived after contracting it, even though seemed dead from it!)

And what about that flu, anyway? Where’d it originate?

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In the final two minutes, without any prior hint or warning, we’re left wondering whether the flu was a natural or a conspiratorial phenomenon.

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And so ends the first episode of the new Survivors.

How was it to actually watch?

I don’t think I’ve ever watched a TV program as slow as this in my entire life. The near-ninety minutes of the debut episode seemed like four hours. I kept looking at the time increment of vlc to make sure it was playing at the correct speed. It’s shot like a movie, but the pacing was absolutely glacial.

I wonder if the padding is deliberate. The BBC runs ads after a program, and far fewer of them than other TV markets. A BBC one-hour episode usually runs about fifty-four minutes of running time. Here in America, a TV episode is only about forty-four minutes. Could all the slowness in the BBC version be attributed to padding that would be excised by foreign markets, thus making the pacing faster?

I went on to watch the second episode.

It was also glacial!

However, I was intrigued by it. I wanted to see if anything in this series would be applicable to the upcoming real-world Depression 2.0, so I went for a third episode.

Number three had a different writer. The story structure was changed and the pacing was faster. There was a very dramatic and surprising scene in it …

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… which irritated me even while I was watching it. In retrospect, it irritates me even more because it was just absolutely stupid. The writer should be ashamed for presenting something so brainless and expecting anyone with either I or Q (or even worse, the pairing of IQ!) to let it slip by.

Still, I remain strangely drawn to the series and will give yet another episode — airing next week — a chance.

There are some bits I’ve pulled out that might or might not make their way into Depression 2.0-applicable posts. Maybe future episodes will have more too — if I go that far.

Explore posts in the same categories: TV, Writers - Dead, Writers - Living, Writing

One Comment on “BBC: Remake Of 1970s Survivors Series”


  1. […] Given the daily briefings by the Mayor and the seeming urgency of the daily news coverage, I’m beginning to feel like I’m living through the first episode of Survivors. […]


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