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Ben Austwick [Cathode Ray Mission 02.10.10] Tuvalu United Kingdom post apocalyptic review

Year: 2009
Directors: John Alexander / Andrew Gunn
Writers: Various
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 7 out of 10

An unusually dark episode of Survivors takes us into the previously unexplored areas of slave labour and mob violence and leaves us with a surprisingly high body count. Whether this sets the tone for the rest of the series or is a lucky one-off remains to be seen.

After the show trial of the previous episode, Tom and Greg are taken to dig coal in a slave labour camp run by one of Survivors' best characters yet, classically trained Oxford graduate Mr Smithson. Played with a subtle mix of scholastic dorkiness, eccentric self-belief and disarming intellectual charm by Christopher Fulford, Mr Smithson is an unusual and well-realised bad guy whose apparent death at the end of the episode may thankfully not be all it seems, as according to IMDB he appears in another two episodes yet.

His demise, and that of his fellow slavers, is a predictable episode conclusion in a series that childishly refuses to leave its viewers on a low note, no matter the actual content. Tom and Greg are inevitably sprung from the slave labour camp by their chums, but confusion and violence on the way sees prison guards lynched and hanged or bludgeoned to death, and a fellow prisoner die slowly of a ruptured spleen. With strong scenes like these being introduced, do we still really need the soppy happy endings?

All said though, this is yet another entertaining episode in a series that's turning out to be much better than the first. The slave labour coal mine, an inspired idea in the first place, is handled with clever attention to detail, an appropriate level of darkness and populated with some great characters. That the episode amounts to little more than a self-contained side-story justifies my thoughts on Survivors being at its best dealing with the incidental detail that colours the world its set in; but if that's the case, then episodes like this are welcome. We'll have to wait and see whether Survivors continues down this road or gets bogged down in its dull central characters again, but I'm more hopeful than I was before.

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Fat Legs (8 years ago) Reply

Smithson was class, quality acting with subtle depth of character, a nervous creepiness wrapped in naive academic arrogance. Downside of this was that it further served to highlight majority of other characters paper thin dullness and/or ridiculousness. Still, indeed premise of episode explored something more interesting than usual plus revenge vibe brutals offer glimpse of how series could deliver some post apocaylptic goodstuff down the line.

PS - Has it been goneover on before? If so apologies, but where the freakin hell are the guns??? One shotgun in whole of Manchester?? Ha ha if only that were so

PPS - I've tried und tried but I cannae take Trigger seriously Dave


Ben Austwick (8 years ago) Reply

I like Trigger (Roger Lloyd-Pack) a lot, agreed it's difficult at first because he's so typecast from Only Fools and Horses, but he's another damn good actor in a series full of rubbish ones.


Muzzlehatch (8 years ago) Reply

Enjoyed this one!
Trigger also featured in one of best episodes of the 70's Survivors series - 'Lights of London I&II'. The guy who played Smithson starred in the 90's PA TV series The Last Train - which i'd love to see released on DVD. I'm sure the casting of these two wasn't a coincidence.


Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

What was with the coal mine? Is the depopulated world really in desperate need of extra coal to get through the winter? For furnaces in need of coal, it seems as though there'd be enough around for a few decades. And with all those trees and empty wooden structures, there's no shortage of other stuff to burn. If the slaves had been set to farming, I might have begun to believe it, but a coal mine, of all things? Doesn't seem likely.


Kelly (8 years ago) Reply

fat legs, remember this is England. According to, there are six guns for every 100 people in England. In the United States, there are 90 for every 100! 90!

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