November 19th, 2008

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Former Doctor Who actress in remake of classic series

I just learned last night that one of the most compelling TV dramas ever, Survivors (not to be confused with the lame "reality" series Survivor), has started to be re-made. The first episode airs on the BBC this Sunday, in fact.

And I see that one of the main characters, Jenny, is this time being played by former Doctor Who co-star Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones). It looks like the actor who played Pete Tyler in DW is among the cast also.

There have been other shows recently about the survivors from some sort of catastrophe, e.g. Lost and Jericho, but it seemed from the trailers that they were all about action and suspense at the expense of realism, whereas Survivors got its suspense and indeed action as a result of its realism.

The premise: An airborne virus gestates in the body for about 30 days, during which time carriers can pass it on to new hosts. With the amount of traveling people do, it spreads across the world before the first cases develop symptoms. Within weeks, most of the population has died. Only about 1 in 10,000 people (or less) have a natural immunity or are able to survive the disease.

It then focuses on the reality of the situation for those left behind. With the vast numbers of dead, the cities are uninhabitable due to disease (e.g. cholera). Forced into the country to fend for themselves, they are faced with the realization that we as a species have become totally dependent upon other people to work raw materials into something we can use.

For example: Can you make something as seemingly primitive as a candle? Where does the fuel come from? How do you make the wick? How do you mold the wax? Can you build the oven in which to bake it? Can you build shelter, making all your own tools? Can you grow and raise food, year-round? Do you know how to store food for the winter without it spoiling? What sort of society do you form? How do you resolve conflicts or crime without a legal system in place?

Hammers, nails, saws etc. become extremely precious commodities. What happens when they're used up? Can you mine the ore? Work the metal? Work the wood? Make the glue? or do you think that you only might be able to make something usable out of stone?

"We're the generation who put a man on the Moon, yet all we can do is think about making stone tools."

Hopefully this new version will be as gritty and real as the original series from the 1970s was. Today's generation needs to see that a good story realistically told can be just as gripping as something manufactured with crazy plot twists and unlikely action scenes designed to keep your attention.