Friday, August 6th, 2010

Survivors

I first started watching this show when it first came out. Unfortunately, after I had seen the first five episodes I moved half way around the world and never saw or heard anything more of the show until recently. I say unfortunately because I thought that the five episodes that I was back in 1975 were all excellent.

I have now had the opportunity to rewatch those first five episodes along with the following twenty one episodes that made up the first two of the three seasons of the show. I still think that the first five episodes that I had seen before are excellent. The following eight episodes that make up the rest of season one are not quite as good and so I suppose that I am lucky that so many years passed between when I first saw those first five episodes and seeing the rest of the season as if I has seen them all together I would have lowered my opinion of the entire show.

The problem isn’t so much in what material that the subsequent shows in season one actually contain that is the problem as it is that the story lines start to repeat. With hundreds if not thousands of possible story lines that could have been used the show instead shows variants of the same story lines over again. There are at least three or four shows in the first two seasons where something is to be kept secret from someone and that secret is disclosed causing the problem – usually involving the children either as those who do the disclosing or as those who are not supposed to be told. There are also a significant number of episodes where someone from outside arrives with the intention of stealing from the group. Each of these ideas deserved one story but none of them deserved the multiple stories that actually used them when there were so many possible stories that never got used at all.

Another problem with the latter part of season one was the location where they decided to settle – it just didn’t look enough like a farming community. This problem was rectified in a very poor storyline at the start of season two where the building burnt down killing most of the regulars and those remaining joined with another group led by someone whose ideas had already been dealt with in an early episode of season one. Joining with one of the groups that they held meetings with toward the end of season one would have been a far more realistic solution.

The stories in season two are much weaker ones for the most part than those in season one either because they rehash story lines from season one or because their premise is too way out. Some of these problems are caused by someone having decided that characters need to be killed off rather than allowing them to fade into the background of the group. One point where the second season does at least in part deal with this better is that not everyone new who takes part in an episode is a new arrival implying that the group is larger than those who are seen in each episode and actually allowing more for them to fade back into the background – although there are still more deaths shown of characters without really providing sufficient reasons.

The second season also contains several episodes that just outright contradict one another where the situation as it exists in one episode is specifically denied in another. There are two really obvious examples of this – one early in the season where in episode two it is determined that going into a city is certain death where episode three and four have three of the characters going into London and surviving. Another occurs later in the season with one episode showing that their farming community is located adjacent to a canal but with the season ending with the suggestion that they need to move because of being too far from water. In each of these instances the inclusion of the one premise makes the episode with the opposite premise an impossibility.

With the way that the show deteriorated after the first few episodes – to the point where the last episode of season two is totally inconsistent with many of the earlier episodes, I don’t know if I will ever bother to watch the final season.

My Opinion of Each Episode

  • The Fourth Horseman – Excellent
  • Genesis – Excellent
  • Gone Away – Excellent
  • Corn Dolly – Excellent
  • Gone to the Angels – Excellent
  • Garland’s War – Acceptable
  • Starvation – Excellent
  • Spoil of War – Good
  • Law and Order – Excellent
  • The Future Hour – Acceptable
  • Revenge – Acceptable
  • Something of Value – same theme as Gone Away
  • A Beginning – Good
  • Birth of a Hope – Poor
  • Greater Love – Excellent
  • Lights of London – Incompatible with Greater Love
  • The Face of the Tiger – variant on The Future Hour
  • The Witch – Excellent
  • A Friend in Need – same theme as A Beginning
  • By Bread Alone – Good
  • The Chosen – Excellent
  • Parasites – Acceptable
    New Arrivals – same theme as part of Spoils of War
  • Over the Hills – same theme as Corn Dolly
  • New World – Incompatible with Parasites
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