Survivors-The Complete Collection (1975)

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Released 6-Oct-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Main Menu Audio
Gallery-Photo-x4
Featurette-The Cult of...
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 1862:00 (Case: 1915)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (11)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Pennant Roberts
Terence Williams
Gerald Blake
Eric Hills
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Custom Packaging
RPI $119.95 Music Anthony Isaac
Bernard Ashby
Chris Wimble


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Survivors is a cult BBC science fiction show from creator Terry Nation (creator of Doctor Who's Daleks) and producer Terence Dudley (at the time best known for cult sci-fi show Doomwatch and later as a screenwriter for Doctor Who). Released at the height of, and somewhat inspired by, a self-sustainability fad in the UK (one that also spawned the very different The Good Life), Survivors told the story of a group of people living beyond a great plague (nicknamed The Death) that has eliminated all but 0.1% of the world's population. This post apocalyptic tale ran for 38 episodes, spread over 3 seasons.

    Each episode of the series is utterly engaging in its own right, although the tone of the story, and ongoing events, is quite inconsistent between episodes (thought this is less the case with the second and third seasons, which appear to have been plotted through a bit more carefully). The tone of the show is very dark at times and ever uncompromising, even when it comes to major characters. The necessarily brutal implementation of law and order, in particular, deliberately provokes horror among civilized viewers, though in a manner designed to promote debate rather than to simply shock. The show has endured particularly well in large part because it doesn't dumb down any of the issues it explores and seems to have been gloriously free from the clutches of nervous network executives trying to keep things politically correct.

    Each season had a distinct narrative change, though the general vibe of the show remained relatively consistent, and the series featured quite a dynamic cast. No actor features in every episode, though many drop in and out throughout the show's run, in large part because of the lack of restraint imposed on the producers. Not even core characters are safe from catastrophe and death. Once it is clear that all bets are off in terms of who may survive an episode, every episode becomes gripping viewing.

    The first season opens with the Death killing off the bulk of humanity, and follows a handful of disparate survivors until three emerge as a core group, Abby (Carolyn Seymour), Greg (Ian McCulloch) and Jenny (Lucy Fleming). That core group drive around the countryside in search of Abby's lost son before finally settling down and beginning a farming community, which rapidly grows in size to around a dozen people. The latter half of the season focuses on the exploits of the farming community.

    The second season picks up at a time when the petrol has run out and most of the readily accessible supplies have been claimed or perished. The survivors carry on a more basic, nearly feudal, life. The remaining survivors from the first season unite with another nearby community led by Charles Vaughan (Denis Lill), and steadily attempt to form lines of communication and trade with other communities.

    The third season returns to exploring the impact on wider society and how different groups of survivors have coped, as a group of the survivors from Charles' community head off in search of Greg, who has managed to get into contact with survivors from mainland Europe.

    Survivors is one of Britain's best sci-fi series, and it holds up particularly well to this day. Its focus is much more adult oriented than many of its ilk (particularly Dr. Who and Blake's 7). Essential viewing for fans of British science fiction.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The show is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

    The show appears to have been shot entirely on video, both indoor and outdoor sequences. Aside from noticeable, but expected and quickly dismissible, issues with video in that day (mainly occasional microphony and comet trails), the video looks excellent. There is little sign of low level noise. The image is generally fairly well focused and features only mild to moderate grain. The colours are consistent and there is a decent level of shadow detail in the image. There is no sign of pixelation in the image.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The film features a single mono 1.0 Dolby Digital English audio track, which would be accurate to the original source given the age of the show.

    The audio is clear and well mixed. The dialogue is audible and easy to understand throughout. There are no problems with sync.

    Aside from a fairly recognisable theme from Anthony Isaac, there is little in the way of music throughout the show. What there is is well presented in the mix.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Photo Galleries

    Four Photo Galleries are included, one of photos taken by Lucy Fleming over the course of the show and one general gallery for each season. Pass.

The Cult of... Survivors Featurette (26:43)

    An episode of the BBC show The Cult of.... Produced in 2006, each episode of which introduced viewers to different cult TV shows. Surprisingly enough, this episode is all about Survivors. It concentrates mainly on the first season (spoiling one episode considerably if you have not yet seen it) and features interviews with several of the main cast members and crew. Certainly worth a look, but not before you've seen at least the bulk of the first series.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Survivors has not been released in Region 1.

    The version(s) of choice for the show is clearly the Region 2 editions. Each season of the show has been released separately in Region 2, with each series containing cast and crew commentaries for one or two episodes as well as recent cast and crew interviews and a "making of" booklet. In the case of the third series a "making of" featurette is also featured. None feature the The Cult of... episode we get on the Region 4 edition (it hadn't been produced at the time of their release), although it is arguably an acceptable loss in preference to the Region 2 extras.

Summary

    Survivors is one of Britain's best sci-fi series, and it holds up particularly well to this day. Essential viewing for fans of British science fiction.

    The video and audio on offer is excellent, given the age and source of the material. The extras are disappointingly slim, though what is there is decent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
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Film Used In Some Eps - Vic