Television's Bleakest Post-Apocalyptic Saga Comes To America

Here's an exclusive clip from The Survivors, the remake of Britain's most apocalyptic 1970s series that launches on BBC America this Saturday at 8. It may be the bleakest, most misanthropic view of life after an apocalypse. Spoilers ahead...

Like the original Terry Nation series from the 1970s, The Survivors is about a deadly plague that wipes out most of the human race, leaving the remaining few without access to any modern conveniences and the comforts of civilization. Humans are the monsters in this series, as the harsh conditions bring out the worst in people and different groups of people have different visions of how to organize a new society.


Like Nation's original show, The Survivors is quite slow-moving, and includes long stretches of melancholy and brooding, interspersed with violence and nastiness. The new version is definitely an acquired taste — at first, it seems too slow and low-key, especially since most of the survivors aren't people you enjoy spending a lot of time with. (Although Paterson "should have been the Doctor" Joseph is instantly magnetic as Greg, and Max Beesley is also pretty gripping as Tom.) It takes a lot of patience to get into this show, and I gave up on it last year. But when BBC America sent us screener DVDs, I gave it another shot and found it growing on me, quite a lot.

The bleakness creeps up on you becomes hypnotic — many of the show's characters aren't just vile, they're also kind of dumb, in a totally believable way. They're slowly adjusting to a new world where survival isn't a given, and they're slow to let go of their old assumptions. Among the core group of survivors, the most frustrating to watch is the shallow, materialistic Al Sadiq, who can't quite get it into his head that the fun-time is over. In episode two, we also meet a thug who's claimed a ton of local supermarkets as his "territory," and Sarah, a cute-but-awful woman who tries to use her sexuality to get a poor guy named Bob to be her personal slave as she tries to turn a food warehouse into a source of wealth — not realizing how easily it can be taken away from her.


The bit in episode two, where Bob breaks his leg doing Sarah's bidding and she's stuck taking care of him — only to try and seduce another man while he lays dying — is hilarious and awful all at once. This show definitely gets major points for going to some sick places.

And the characters do gain more depth and become more memorable as the show goes on. BBC America is premiering a dozen episodes, or two U.K. seasons' worth, all at once, so you've got a chance to delve into the post-plague world — including the later subplot where scientists are trying to discover an antidote before a mutant strain wipes out the last remaining humans. It's an uncomfortable, brutal ride.

The Survivors premieres this Saturday at 8 PM on BBC America.

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I saw the first series and liked it enough but didn't find it all that bleak. Of course I found the film of The Road to be more pretentious than it was bleak so I might not be the best judge...

I've held off watching the second season mainly because I got kind of tired of the main character's quest (being vague for those that haven't seen it).