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“Survivors: The Complete Original Series” (1975-1977)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: BBC/Warner
Genre:
TV-Series
Release Date:
4/27/10
Special Features:

Featurette, two photo gallerires

Review:

Why are end of the world dramas so popular? Perhaps it’s because their cheap or because we tend to resort to our…baser less civilized instincts as a result of being driven back into the Stone age. The TV series “Survivors” was created by Terry Nation that man that dreamed up the Daleks for “Doctor Who” and takes place after a deadly virus has accidently been released by a lab. It kills almost everyone and those who survive do so only by the grace of genetics. Stripped of the comforts of the modern world the survivors of this modern man made plague try and build a new society struggling with the remains of the old and the prejudice of the past and present. ***

The first season of the show holds up remarkably well but as the series progressed it was clear that the producers were quickly running out of viable ideas to keep the series dramatically interesting. As a result you will find your interest will probably lag after the first “series” presented here. Still, overall, “Survivors” is pretty good for a late 70’s TV show from the BBC avoiding the excess of later “Doctor Who” seasons. On the other hand, there’s no character or characters quite as colorful as The Doctor or the Daleks. ***

Shown on the BBC from 1975-1977 and consisting of 38 episodes the series continued to remain popular in the memory of those who grew up seeing it in the late 70’s—so popular that it inspired a remake (more about that later). While “Survivors” might lack the cheesy tone of science fiction TV shows made in America at the same time, it also lacks the often over-the-top touches that would make these type of shows endearing. ---

Image & Sound:

“Survivors” looks as good as any show shot in the late 70’s could look; images are a bit soft at times although, on the whole, the detail is decent and while colors don’t exactly pop they look decent enough here. The series was evidently shot on film and videotape and the film portions looks quite decent although they could have used better clean up. ***

The video portions however are a different matter entirely with the soft image quality I complained about earlier as well as occasional drop outs (not a surprise given that this features videotape well over 30 years old). ***

Audio varies almost as often as the video. While dialogue is clear the sound level often falls below a whisper and I often had to resort to the subtitles to make out what was being said. ---

Special Features:

We get the featurette “The Cult of Survivors” which focuses on the popularity in the UK of the series and how it inspired the remake of the TV series a couple of years back. Featuring new interviews with the cast (it was produced as part of the BBC’s “Science Fiction Britannia” series. This particular episode runs about 30 minutes but don’t make the mistake I did—I took a break from watching some of the episodes and decided to leap into the documentary safe in the knowledge that there weren’t be any spoilers. Idiot me. ***

Likewise we get photos taken by one of the stars of the show Lucy Fleming that were taken on the set giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the production of the show. We also get a photo gallery filled with vintage BBC publicity stills. A commentary track or two would have been nice but what we do get over six discs is quite solid. ---

Final Words:

While it has dated a bit the themes and ideas at the heart of “Survivors” were good enough to inspire a brand new incarnation of the series. Fans who caught this when it ran on some BBC stations in the U.S. during the early 80’s will enjoy this set and for purists it should be noted that the episodes are uncut.

 

 
 
 
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