If there is one thing, more than any other, we can learn from AMC’s The Walking Dead, it’s that in a worldwide apocalypse (of a zombie nature or, indeed, of any kind of disaster of a viral kind), the living pose as much danger as do the infected. In fact, they may be even more hostile than the flesh-eating monsters. Of course, The Walking Dead is only highly entertaining fiction (so far, at least…). But, it does serve to demonstrate that when society collapses, all bets are off and human quickly turns upon human.
All of this brings me to the subject of today’s article. Long before The Walking Dead became a mega-sized, worldwide hit, there was another television show that graphically demonstrated how quickly – when faced with a devastating virus in its midst – civilization can unravel and plunge everyone into a fight for life against each other. It was called Survivors.
Survivors was a British television series, made by and aired on the BBC, that ran from 1975 to 1977. It had at its heart two things that are absolutely integral to the domain of the zombie in today’s world: a deadly virus and the end of civilization. While the dead remain dead in Survivors, the show offers a good indication of how life might really be like in the event that a fast-spreading plague erupts and kills nearly all of the human race.
Survivors begins in London, England, at a time when a mysterious illness has begun surfacing among the population. At first, and due to the small number of deaths, the British government is able to successfully hide the truth from the public and the media. But matters don’t stay like that for long, however. The deadly virus, released in error by a Chinese scientist, soon takes its grip not just on the United Kingdom, but on the entire planet, too.
World authorities do their very best to stay in control and ensure that some form of law and order remains intact. Good luck with that. As one might assume, it’s all to no avail. In no time at all, the death rate rises from the dozens to the thousands and, ultimately, from the millions to the billions. The human race is all but extinct, aside from the few survivors of the show’s title.
It must be said that Survivors is a highly watchable and gripping series, primarily because it pulls no punches – at all. The entire tone of the show is bleak, as one might expect it to be in the real world, when society and civilization are nothing but a rapidly dwindling memory. The regular cast – and not unlike the characters on The Walking Dead – constantly find themselves dealing with the devastating effects of the deadly virus and the ragged remnants of society that will do all they can to survive.
And doom and gloom dominate the entire storyline, as does violent murder – something which quickly takes hold all across the nation, as people struggle to survive, no matter what the cost in human lives.
Survivors ran for three series and thirty-eight episodes. Typical of its entire theme, it ended in a fashion that provided some degree of hope for the struggling bands of people left, but also kept the door open for further anarchy in the U.K. (and everywhere else, too).
In 2008, Survivors was resurrected from the grave. It was not a hit with the viewing public of the U.K. and was cancelled after just twelve episodes – proof that ratings (or, in this case, a lack of them) can be far more powerful than even the deadliest of all viruses.