The BBC's three-hour remake of Day Of The Triffids ended the other day, and we're still stuck with mixed feelings. The Triffids themselves are great, but a lot of the other stuff could have been mulched.
After watching part two of Triffids, the concerns that we had after part one have been magnified quite a bit. In this version of John Wyndham's classic novel, everything that doesn't involve fighting killer plants feels a bit dodgy. Every other Triffid rendition we've seen has been gripping as much because of the human characters and their foibles as for the naughty vegetation. This time around, the human villains failed to grip us.
Case in point: The evil nuns. Really? Evil nuns? Miss Durrant, the Christian conservative lady who tries to organize a new community to survive the collapse of civilization, is in the book. But in the TV show, she's turned into a bit of a caricature, who's decided for some reason that feeding people to the Triffids will keep them from attacking. Which doesn't quite make sense to me however you slice it — wouldn't feeding the Triffids just make them more eager to find the source of all this lovely meat? Plus the conflict of a Christian feeding the weakest and most vulnerable people to the Triffids is barely even touched on — it's only alluded to once.
And sadly, Eddie Izzard as Torrence continues to be uninspiring in the second half of the miniseries — he's just too laid-back and doesn't really seem to have much of a goal, other than slouching around and being menacing every now and then. Torrence should be the scariest person in the story, the authoritarian who tries to shackle everyone to his new order — but instead, he's just sort of treading water.
Most of all, I was a bit confused by the fact that there were no blind people whatsoever in part two — maybe a few people living in Nunland were blind, but otherwise I don't remember any turning up. Isn't that part of the point of the show — that there are tons of blind people, and different people have different ideas over how to take care of them? Coker chains sighted people to blind people, forcing them to help (and at least that bit is in part one of the TV series). Torrence wants to create a new authoritarian regime under which sighted people are forced to care for the blind. Beadley wants to set up a polygamous community, with sighted men each taking several blind wives. And so on.
The mass blindings sort of drop out of the story pretty quickly in part two, leaving us with a simple story of humans trying to survive the onslaught of killer plants.
The new addition I did like, however, is the introduction of Bill's father, a Triffid expert who helped to cause the problem in the first place. Even though daddy issues are the main flavor of the month in television science fiction nowadays, there were still some lovely scenes between Bill and his dad, where they talked about the mistakes they'd made. The actors actually had a decent amount of chemistry, and I was almost able to forgive the idiot plot, where the dad forgets to turn the electricity back on, and then Bill kills the one Triffid that could save the entire human race, in the totally futile hope of saving his dad.
And the twist at the very end, where Bill realizes the significance of his visions of African tribal masks, just did not make sense to me at all. Did I miss something? Getting a bit of Triffid poison in your eyes stops them from attacking you, why exactly? Because of Triffid pheromones?
All in all, it was pretty good — better than the recent remakes of The Survivors or The Prisoner — but not nearly as good as the 1981 version, which remains must-see television.