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Survivors on DVD

Published June 29, 2010 in DVD News
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
Survivors Survivors
If you’ve been reading my movie reviews, you know that my biggest obsession is the post-apocalyptic survival genre. It’s not the end of the world part. I like seeing what kind of supplies they find in what’s left of the world. I Am Legend and The Book of Eli have been the best.

Survivors on DVD


BBC America’s broadcast of Survivors has done a lot for me too. They could devote entire episodes to foraging for supplies. Episode two completely centered around a warehouse! I sort of lost track of the series on air so I got to complete it with this DVD set.

With some 50 minutes of running time per British episode, the series can focus on the day to day minutiae of surviving, while forwarding bigger plots. The formation of makeshift governments is an interesting side effect and the search for a missing son is certainly a human element of the global event. I’m more interested in the little encounters along the way. They can include every permutation of how someone would cope.

Revisiting the DVD of the original 1975 Survivors was even more interesting. I’m kind of used to the modern day wasteland, but what if it had happened before cell phones and home computers had even been invented? Amazingly, the original Survivors gets to the same point, even though it took place in a different world.


Since it’s a ‘70s BBC production, it looks quite different than the modern day version. The apocalypse is portrayed mostly in two person scenes in remote settings, to accommodate the abilities of production. Seeing the scenes shift from filmed exteriors to videotaped interiors reminds you of the era in a fascinating way.

Most surprising is that major story points were adapted nearly verbatim in the modern day series. The analysis of how much it takes to manufacture the simplest tools is actually a bit further and deeper here, but the same point. The confrontation with the posse at the supermarket is the same, although the details play out differently and with some 20 more hours of plot I’ll be interested to see where this goes in the early version.

But the same sense of desolate landscapes and solitary people exploring what they find. It remains the British I Am Legend and for anyone with my similar obsession, I can wholeheartedly recommend both versions of Survivors. The modern day one is a little more action packed. It looks a bit more like a movie, a bit more sprawling, though you can still sense the TV tricks for selling the scale with limited means.

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Fred Topel
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