SURVIVORS - Episode Two

BBCHD - 25th November 2008 - 9.00pm

Oh, look. They've got themselves a nice house to play happy families in. That's what I like to see, a healthy property market despite the virus credit crunch. And they go shopping! How lovely. There's always a silver lining to every apocalyptic cloud, isn't there. It it was me, I'd head straight for Scotland - the water and air would be clean and there'd be nobody around to worry about.

Anyway, if you're really that bothered about comparing the old with the new, this is essentially a revised version of 1975's Genesis episode from Series One. The whole scenario with Bob, the warehouse man, and Sarah, the thin, posh girl is a duplication of the Vic and Ann Tranter storyline from that episode. That had the utterly brilliant Myra Frances as Ann, a heartless bitch more interested in having a fur coat than helping poor old Vic with his broken leg. She was magnificent. It's a very powerful story and the remade version is nearly as good, despite Robyn Addison being somewhat weak in the role of Sarah. Still, she got the woman's naivety to a tee.'ve got a series of very volatile scenes in which no one is entirely safe
The standout performances are from Paterson Joseph as Greg, who is starting to peel away the layers to the character and reveal how morally ambiguous he might be in a tense situation; Max Beesley as the manipulative Tom, sizing up all of the regular characters and aiming for the weakest in the group; and Julie Graham as Abby, in way over her head yet trying her best to keep the group together. Throw in Anthony Flanagan, superb as Dexter, the newly, self-appointed gang boss seizing control of the local food supply and you've got a series of very volatile scenes in which no one is entirely safe.

They other key scene is the aftermath of Al and Najid's visit to the local newsagent. Al kills the owner by accident and goes through a rites of passage that opens up the character's flaws and failings. His breakdown is very moving and demonstrates beneath the swagger and bluster he's rather vulnerable. I appreciate that development after last week's opening episode, where I'd quite happily have slapped him. The relationship between Al and Najid is also proving to have some legs and I'm happy to have been proved wrong on that score, especially after that excruciating football match on the motorway scene last week. I living in a parallel world or did his girlfriend look like an older Billie Piper?
On the surface this is all very competent and enjoyable drama but it isn't raising my eyebrows by doing anything radical. Its attempts at realism are quite laughable - where is the power coming from for the lights in the warehouse, for example. Would a food distribution point have its own generator? It's still a bit 'home counties disaster' and the casting is horribly biased towards younger actors. Where are all the old people! The original series did at least cross the generations with its regular characters. The whingeing Sarah has abandoned Bob with his broken leg to the hideous Dexter (and am I living in a parallel world or did his girlfriend look like an older Billie Piper? I did a double take, I tell ya) and joined the merry, dysfunctional band. We'll have to wait until next week to see how she fares but the trailer is promising to reintroduce Nikki Amuka Bird as politician Samantha Willis to deal with the thorny issues of law and order.

And I see our white suited, clipboard bearing scientist overlords get their obligatory five minutes at the end when a scavenging chav breaks into their underground car park. Hmmm, I'm still not convinced that suggesting the release of the virus was a deliberate ploy by the powers that be is such a good idea. It's all a bit State Of Play and smacks of a lack of confidence in the story proper - how people would survive in a world that returns to feudalism and the use of soft technologies (e.g. negotiation, bartering, management) to kick start a return to some form of civilisation. If the government is all nice and cosy in a well heated, well lit bunker then what's the point? There shouldn't be a government at all.

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7 Responses to “SURVIVORS - Episode Two”
  1. Perhaps all the older people were killed by the virus because their immune systems were weaker? I dunno. The bloke in the sweet shop was quite old.

    I was CONVINCED that Dexter's girlfriend was Billie Piper until I saw the end credits.

    Sarah is a completely horrible person and every time she opens her mouth I want to slap her. Oh, and she is 100% useless. Seriously, I hope they kill her off soon because I hate her so much.

    I agree with you re Al and Najid. And is it just me or is Anya a lesbian? I just get this feeling about her, like Jen might have been her girlfriend? Come on, don't tell me it was a special virus that killed off all of teh gays.

    Seriously. Fifteen Venusian quarks says that Anya's a lesbian. You know it makes sense.

  2. 1. I'm glad you thought it was Billie Piper too. Proves I'm not going senile.
    2. Sarah is a nasty piece of work. Just keep watching. *cough* traitor *cough*
    3. Anya. Lesbian. I was convinced she was just because she seemed very close to Jenny in episode one. Yay! Let's have the gays saving the world. That'll get the Daily Mail in a tizz.

  3. I don't want her to save the world - just to tell Tom that she's a lesbian so we can see the look on his face. He's acting like he's the prize bull and Anya's his chosen heifer.

    Oh, and it's Greg who's going senile. He INVITED Sarah to live with them? What the FLIP????

    Fortunately she doesn't look like she'll be using up any of their food.


  4. Yes, Tom needs a cold bucket of water to dampen his ardor. And, yes, Greg is officially stupid. I hope they've got a good supply of water and crackers to keep Sarah looking like a twig.

  5. On a more serious note, I think they're trying pretty hard to keep the whole apocalypse thing going - oil lanterns in the house, no running water, that kind of thing. They can't keep using that 4x4 forever though.

    I'd like to see more of the nuts and bolts of how to survive - a scene where they debated about the morality of using a dead person's house would have been nice, with Tom using his lock-picking skills to get them in there and the others wondering how he knew those tricks.

    Oh well. Roll on next Tuesday!

  6. I seem to recall the series pre-publicity stuff, when trhe show was announced, mentioning that Jenny's flatmate was Anya's girlfriend - remember the scene in the first episode where she gives the sick girl a tender kiss to the forehead? It's all been quite understated though and I think we were supposed to make the connection when she rebuffed Al's advances in episode two.

  7. I made the connection, coz I iz smart.


    (Like, when I said Jenny I MEANT the poorly blonde girl who hung out with Freema. I find it hard to think of Freema as 'Jenny' or 'Martha' - to me she is always Freema.)

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