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Survivors… July 1, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Had a bad flu earlier in the year, and hey whatchaknow, during it watched the first episode of this on Youtube for the first time in years, Terry Nation’s Survivors. All the way from 1975 depicting a mutated virus that wipes out most of the world’s population. Can’t say it was a cheering experience.

I only have random memories of it from the first time around. I remember the title sequence vividly – Soviet scientist in a lab drops a beaker and then… well. Then.

Terry Nation was the person behind it and he had already quite a track record of productions.

It’s well done for the time – though one can hardly imagine in a world of social media and the internet people being quite so isolated and ignorant of what is going on if it were to happen today. It’s got that very special 1970s sort of bleakness – not a lot of sentimentality. And some neat, if again bleak, twists. The problem with a lot of this sort of fiction is that the events of such an outbreak are in a way what is of most interest – a society sliding from normality to abnormality, whereas what comes a while after can seem oddly banal. I seem to recall getting less and less intrigued by it as it went on for season after season (three in all) – though I may be confusing it with Day of the Triffids in that regard.

Good to see female leads. That would put some shows today to shame. Not so great to see the class aspects of it and just how middle class many of the survivors appear to be. Man are they middle class. And this did not go uncommented on at the time too.

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1. Dermot O Connor - July 1, 2017

I watched all 3 a few years back, and had zero memories of it first time round (born in 1969, so 7 was probably too young for it to register).

Loved them all – but season 3 does go off the rails. There was an internal dispute between Nation and the producer, who wanted a more episodic season 3, and that final year becomes very erratic indeed.

Other issues were ‘cosy catastrophism’ in S2, when they have their farm/commune up and running, it feels too good to be true, and S3 was an attempt, at least to do away with that.

The final 3 or 4 episodes of S3 are unadulterated shite; a balloon appears from Norway, and Greg Preston flies away to discover the outpost of civilisation; meanwhile a welsh colliery is re-opened, with three taffies (THREE!) going down t’pit to reopen the coal mine (as though they wouldn’t have had mountains of coal on the surface to last decades).

Nation’s vision was that the collapse was permanent, the ridiculous happy ending (with Welshmen!) was a silly tack-on.

Also, the actor who played Greg Preston got a bit prima dona, and went off the show for a while (again, that stupid Norwegian balloon). Apparently he also had an epically awful and borderline racist idea for a fourth season that involved the UK being invaded by African pirates, or somesuch. Which is why, I suspect, the character of Greg was cheekily cast to a black actor in the awful remake 3 or 4 years ago.

Seriously, once you see that fucking balloon, or the sign “Trust Greg Preston, trust his petrol notes”, just stop watching.

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WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2017

You’re only trotting after me DOC, I was born in 65. I remember the first few episodes but nothing of the later ones except for the balloon. That seemed incredibly stupid. But yeah, nicely creepy vibe under Nation. He was kind of brilliant. Even today Blake’s 7 holds up pretty well.

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2. An Sionnach Fionn - July 2, 2017

Just watched the first one. That has aged badly. Not so much the story or the setting as the social attitudes. All, terribly, terribly British. Still, I’m intrigued enough to watch some more.

YouTube is a godsend for old TV shows and movies. Either catching up on what you barely remember or finding cult stuff you never got to see.

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WorldbyStorm - July 2, 2017

So true re social attitudes. It’s stunning in its own way. And as you say terribly, terribly British. I do like the bait and switch in terms of who lives and who dies. Very clever.

+1 re Youtube.

Can I ask, and I should have picked up on this before, would you have been around at the time or somewhat later age wise?

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An Sionnach Fionn - July 2, 2017

Somewhat later but lucky enough to see most of the premier stuff from the 1960s-70s thanks to VHS/DVD collecting friends in the 1980s-’90s. And now of course so much is available online or from specialist distributors.

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WorldbyStorm - July 2, 2017

Brilliant, a good way to do it, I was ten in 1975 but missed so much. It’s a golden age now.

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WorldbyStorm - July 2, 2017

Btw I kind of miss vhs, the only way to see Babylon 5 for example.

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