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24 November 2008 @ 09:22 am
Survivors  
I'll confess I was a little dubious about this project. Survivors feels to me very much a product of its time and I was unconvinced that this particular piece of lightening could be caught in the bottle twice. All in all I was quite pleased by the remake but I'm not sure I was pleased for good reasons. It was, for instance, remarkably close to the original in many places. This avoided doing anything too horrendous to the original concept but also prevented it from feeling particularly fresh. I think this is very much going to be another "cosy" catastrophe. It may have shifted its location north to Manchester and the peak district and away from the implicitly Home Counties setting of the original but in the process we seem to have lost the only clearly working class character (although since that was a comedy-tramp later revealed to be a dangerous murderer this might be considered a blessing).


I was a little bit dubious about the game of double-bluff being played over who would survive and who wouldn't. Almost anyone who was not in the original or who most of the audience were unlikely to recall clearly from the original (i.e. Tom Price) was pretty clearly coded as a survivor from the outset. Only Abby and Jenny (and I imagine most people with memories of the original series recall that Abby, Jenny and Greg were the central three) were set up with question marks over their heads and that probably only worked because of the pre-publicity that someone we might expect to survive would not. I can see why you might chose, dramatically, to upgrade one of your surviving characters from secretary to doctor but it hardly answers the criticism of the original's middle-class focus.

On a nit-picky nerdy level, I thought the development of the disease and the crisis was ill-thought out. The show wanted the disease to be, at one and the same time, rapidly fatal and slow enough that news of the deaths failed to make it into the media (apparently ever - the government minister is still, it is implied, pretending that its "just a nasty bug" right up to her last television appearance). It looks like the show is also going to promulgate the original's hysterical fear of big cities and you know, really, there are not many diseases that transfer from the dead to the living - not after the first six months or so at any rate. The processes of decomposition are actually remarkably effective. It also maintains the uneasy vagueness about survival rate. The government's last statistics say a 90% death rate which is clearly too low for the number of survivors we see. The original series had a figure of 1 in 100 pulled out of thin air by a character with no way of knowing. This is a plausible number which allows the coincidences of, for instance, two survivors at the prison and the survival of both Abby and one of her son's instructors but again it is way too high considering the depiction of a deserted and silent Manchester.


At the end of the day I thought this was a competent remake but its, almost slavish in places, adherence to the original script will ultimately, I think, handicap it for the new audience and I doubt the lightening has been caught in the bottle a second time.

On Tuesday, interestingly, it seems we are going to be treated to an, in places, almost shot-for-shot replay of the survivors' run-in with Wormley's "provisional government". I will confess to some curiousity about how Wormley (a minor government minister in the original, IIRC) will be re-imagined. At one point I thought it might be the black female government minister who gets to be the public-face of the crisis, especially since she is showing no signs of ill-health, even at the end, but she was ultimately portrayed as too sympathetic a character to make this plausible. It also looks like we will be treated to considerably more sex than we saw in the original where the closest we get to a sex scene is Greg and Jenny chastely sharing a sleeping bag while fully clothed. Charles (the original series' main proponent of rapid repopulation) would no doubt have approved.
 
 
 
reggietate: alonereggietate on November 24th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
I was slightly dubious about it before I saw it, and the reviews have been fairly uniformly harsh, but it more or less won me over. It'll never have the same impact as the original, I think, but it wasn't bad. My biggest nitpick so far is not lack of visible bodies and flies and such, but that there seems to be no older people among the survivors - unless they'll going to introduce someone like Mrs Cohen later on. And having a doctor in the group from day one takes away a lot of the worries about what happens when people get hurt, etc, which was a big deal in the original version.

But it's not bad, on the whole.
louisedennislouisedennis on November 24th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
I strongly suspect Mrs Cohen is one of Terence Dudley's additions to the show and not one of Terry Nation's and given this is some sort of adaptation of Nation's book I doubt we'll see her. According to parrot_knight we are likely to get Garland though, in which case I may throw things at the telly and turn off in disgust unless something has been done either to justify his case for leadership better or the show is more critical of said case for leadership.

I must admit I'm quite interested to see, given how closely this version appears to be following Nation, where the divergence actually starts to happen since I haven't read the book so am working from second/third-hand reports over what exactly it was they fell out over.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on November 24th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
There was a character like Mrs Cohen in the book, although unlike the television Mrs Cohen she dies of uterine cancer, I think, or similar, towards the end.

It's a long time since I've read the book, and the price of second-hand copies was exorbitant. Happily it's just been reprinted to tie in with the new series, though I'd rather have the original cover of course...
fredbassettfredbassett on November 24th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
I haven't read the book, but I loved the original series, and this was pretty true to the original, although it left me with somewhat of a sanitised feeling. I shall certainly carry on watching, though, to see how it develops.

And BTW, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

I'm a little behind with life, so I haven't managed to come bearing fic, but if you'd like to choose a pairing and a prompt, I'll endeavour to oblige in the not-too-distant future :)
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on November 24th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the birthday wishes

I like both Nick/Claudia and Nick/Jenny but I would hate to force you into writing het. Lester/Lyle will suffice. For a prompt hows about

"The Road Goes Ever On and On"
fredbassettfredbassett on November 25th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
LOL, I can write het if I set my mind to it!!

*grins*

OK, I;ll see what I can come up with .....