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Ben Austwick [Cathode Ray Mission 02.17.10] Tuvalu post apocalyptic review scifi



Year: 2009
Directors: John Alexander / Andrew Gunn
Writers: Various
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 4.5 out of 10

A couple of promising stories, some interesting new characters and a handful of inspired ideas have raised hopes considerably for the rest of this series of Survivors. Unfortunate then that these should be followed by such a dull and poorly-written episode.


A promising start sees the family foil a roadside ambush, rescuing a young couple who take them to the Valley, an idyllic commune that so reflects the self-sufficient desires of the conscious middle classes it could be satirical if that wasn't too much to expect from such a humourless program. The smugness of this wholefood fantasy, with its bowls of fresh vegetables and acoustic barn dancing sessions, is punctured by the discovery that an outpost of the commune has suffered a further outbreak of the virus, one that has mutated and will kill the previously immune.

In a shift away from the usual inconsequential side stories and interpersonal relationships one of the central characters dies of the newly mutated virus, but aside from this unexpected turn of events a story that shows nothing more than the quarantining of the infected sick is dull and undramatic, while providing plenty of opportunity for the sort of mawkish emotion that has dogged Survivors from the start. A slightly baffling sub-plot about a missed government evacuation from a nearby airport is far-fetched and incongruous, a tacked-on and desperate attempt to inject some action into proceedings.

This felt like an episode hurrying to introduce plot lines that will bring the series to a conclusion after realising it hasn't really gone anywhere yet. Poorly written and not containing anywhere near enough to fill an hour this is Survivors at its worst, a shame given the exciting, imaginative episodes that preceded it.

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donc48 (8 years ago) Reply

I’m wondering if the BBC is planning on giving Survivors the deep six. The forms on the BBC web site, and some of the comments on QE when the series first aired in the UK showed there wasn’t much love. (I haven’t looked recently on BBC America) Primeval came off like gangbusters but started getting stupid Demons is a mystery to me. The BBC is developing a knack for taking really good Science Fiction ideas or taking really good old series and really screwing them up. I wonder what would happen if they put a Time Lord with The Family maybe a better series?
That said I have to admit after seeing part one of the first season I’m gong to keep watching Survivors. The character of Abby is plenty annoying but the escaped con and the others have me curious.
As a guy who likes creature features the cold grinding death of Primeval was of particular heartbreak, Survivors I would have thought should have been a real no brainier.
The quote another poster on another subject “This saddens me”

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Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

I actually found this episode heartbreaking and spellbinding -- especially compared to many of the others. The writing and acting connected with the death was superb. And I, for one, do not find Abby the slightest bit annoying.

The *logic* of the series is unpardonably vague, though -- and that I do find annoying. How much time has gone by since the virus? Enough time for communes and slave-labour coal mines to organise themselves? Seems hardly likely, unless it's been a year or two at least.

What is and is not in short supply, and why? Really, should *anything* except, say, fresh milk be in short supply yet?

The lunatic at the airbase -- what's he been eating all these weeks. If he's as nuts as he seemed to be, would he really have been able to survive?

Do toilets still work?

The old couple who died this week -- were they a couple before the plague (they sure act like it)? Were they *both* immune? If so, thay would be a remarkable coincidence, worth having a line about in the script.

I don't demand that every detail be spelled out for us, but I get annoyed when the basic premise of a show like this is as muddled as this one's.

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Nick (8 years ago) Reply

I so disagree with this review and didn't find anything maudlin about the storyline; it earned a strong emotional response through some of the best acting to date. Also, these characters are actually developing week to week and becoming more complex unlike the majority of genre shows out there where the arc depends on story alone, sacrificing human development. I'm hooked and will continue to be so until its end. Survivors and Being Human make my week although it's sad that I have to look across the pond for decent storytelling.

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Paul (8 years ago) Reply

I completely disagree - for me, this was the episode that was most in keeping with the original survivors (wholefood smugness included), and was a welcome and realistic respite after a medley of assorted bad guys.

Far from being scant, the storyline included two blossoming love affairs (as well as a love-triangle), the very sad death of a core character, the outbreak of a new virus (effectively starting the cycle over again), the destruction of the lab, evidence of a government evacuation project (hardly surprising in reality, and hardly a tacked-on surprise given that hints have led here all through this season), Addy's first sighting of Peter, a gun-laden stand-off, a new community, Abby and Greg getting a little closer - quite how much more they could have fitted in I really don't know.

I know that every opinion is unique, but I just can't believe this episode could fare so badly compared to some of the (although very exciting) gung-ho gun matches that have gone previously.

Anyway - for better or worse, it's nearly over now :-)

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Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

I too disagree with the review. This episode was great! It is getting better and better with each passing week!

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Ben Austwick (8 years ago) Reply

I'm glad some of you liked it, I personally don't think the characters and acting are strong enough to carry love stories and Survivors works best when it's about imaginative ideas.

Interesting point about this being more like the original series, which I've yet to see.

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Fat Legs (8 years ago) Reply

Ein shame that it was Sarah who got bit by the bug v.20 as she was one of the better charcters who'd actually shown a bit of development. She actually seemed scared, frightened, confused, freaked out and in shock by the death of 99% of the population. Anyroad, this and the last series has mostly left me shaking my head at the daftness with which a post plague UK is portrayed and bemoaning the way characters act. A missed opportunity to deliver something genuinely exciting and thought provoking on mainstream midweek TV. Without exploring the post apocalyptic in an intelligent manner its really little more than a relationship drama between some poorly rounded characters, put em in any scenario and it'd be pretty much the same. Still, no doubt I'll keep watching and keep moaning like a dog doomed to follow a ball shaped like the end of the world.

PS - With regards to my previous comments a la Billy vs Trigger syndrome. Sometimes Greg holds a mad eyed thought for to long and et voila! Johnson!

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Nick (8 years ago) Reply

I so disagree with this review and didn't find anything maudlin about the storyline; it earned a strong emotional response through some of the best acting to date. Also, these characters are actually developing week to week and becoming more complex unlike the majority of genre shows out there where the arc depends on story alone, sacrificing human development. The acting continually improves because they're moving past the stock sketches they began with a mere 11 episodes ago. I'm hooked and will continue to be so until its end. Survivors and Being Human make my week although it's sad that I have to look across the pond for decent storytelling.

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Alex Botten (8 years ago) Reply

I have to agree with the other posters here, this was (IMO) the best episode of the season so far - packed with incident, adding a lot more depth to the characters, and providing answers to things only previously hinted at.

The previous weeks with their 'Group meets baddy, beats him' story lines have been dull compared.

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rek (8 years ago) Reply

One of the best episodes of the series.

I was surprised Sarah actually died, I didn't see this show killing off any of the main characters. She wasn't much of a character at first, but she was really starting to develop, and *bam* she's dead.

The only thing I really don't like about this series is the lack of purpose. Or rather, the surplus of purpose. It seems every two or three episodes they have a new goal, and they just end up zig zagging around, usually in reaction to something external rather than their own motivation.

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Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

Incredible episode.

This review is a joke.

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Fred (8 years ago) Reply

The whole two series are a sterile 'Pedantically Correct' self-conscious drivel of some terrible BBC middle class tosser who hasn't been outside of a city for more than 5 minutes. Why the constant outfit changes? Cleavage shots galore (with the odd bouncing shots)? The grime and muck seems to have avoided the 'family' for so long I gave a cheer when they turned to the country! Even then everyone's dressed 'just right' and it seems that everything is done so as not to rock the boat of what the overlords at the BBC dictate, re: Dr Who orchestral formulaic tension & drama action/explosions etc so common from BBC nowadays - see how they massacred Day of the Triffids! I can't wait for it to end so I can watch the original series again! Taken within its 70s context, the storytelling is spot-on and much more entertaining than this modern corporate eye-candy.
Saying that, Tom Price is an interesting character, though not as entertaining as the original!

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PeterLustig (8 years ago) Reply

Hands down the best episode this season.

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Paul (8 years ago) Reply

Fred! Why wait till it's over?! Watch them now - that's what I've been doing :-)

Much as I'm enjoying this series though, I do agree - the lack of mud and dirt encrusted clothes is somewhat disturbing. They all look like they've just had makeovers, and it does mar the realism a little.

That said, I also recall a very pristine pair of canary yellow trousers from some thirty odd years ago...

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Fred (8 years ago) Reply

Yes, but we had good old Pricey to balance it out somewhat! Ha! Anyways, one more to go..

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Luxembourg (6 years ago) Reply

I really got hooked with the series so, when I finished "Empire of the Dead" I was eager to keep on reading.


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