Season 2

January 01, 1970


(Tuesday nights,
BBC America)




You can’t really
deny that Lost is kind of terrible
this year. It’s a shame, since this is the final season of this
sometimes-excellent show, but there’s no getting around that, thus far, it’s
going out with a whimper, not a bang. Still, this spring does happen to have
some pretty excellent television available for those who are so inclined (and
have cable). One offering comes from BBC America, a remake of the 1970s BBC
series Survivors.


Fans of zombie
films and the post-apocalyptic genre in general will find Survivors to be pleasantly satisfying – a smart take on an Andromeda Strain or The Stand style virus outbreak that wipes out much of the
population (at least of Great Britain, where the show takes place), leaving
behind a mixed bag of “survivors” from various backgrounds and with differing
motives. Season two, which is currently airing on Tuesday nights on BBC
America, picks up right where season one left off. In a nutshell, it went
something like this:


An H1N1-style
virus sweeps across the British Isles, killing
mostly everyone in its wake. Shots of empty cities closely recall Danny Boyle’s
amazing 28 Days Later, albeit on a
smaller scale and somewhat less ominously. Eventually, the core group of
survivors finds each other. Abby is a woman who, instead of being immune to the
virus, actually got sick and then recovered (this will come more into play
later). Greg is a self-sufficient man who only wants to leave the city behind
and strike out on his own. Anya is a doctor who doesn’t want to reveal her
profession. Al is a Middle Eastern playboy who takes Najid, a young boy, under
his wing. And Tom was in prison for reasons unknown before the virus hit, and
he is clearly hiding something sinister about his past.



Throughout the first
season, the group slowly comes across other survivors, some of whom have
reverted to a nihilistic and anarchist state in their newly emptied world. It
turns out that there are bits and pieces of government left, but the group
decides to have nothing to do with it. And, most ominously, a phalanx of
scientists is revealed in an underground bunker who had prior knowledge of the
virus, and kidnap Abby in an attempt to develop a vaccine from her blood.




This all sounds
like a formula for melodramatic rubbish, but it’s actually pulled off very well
by the able cast and brisk direction. Sure, there are the requisite romances,
conflicts, and search for family members, but some of these take disturbing and
realistic turns for the worse. For example, a beautiful young woman named Sarah
joins the group. At first she is using sex to leech off a man who has holed up
in a warehouse full of supplies. Later, the tables are turned and she must
submit to being raped to gain help for another member of the group. The series
takes an incredibly harsh look at what the demand for food and other basic
supplies would do to the human psyche in a scenario such as this.


There are only
four more episodes of Survivors left
in this second season, but back episodes are available on iTunes and BBC
America On Demand for those who’d like to catch up.



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