Watching BBC One’s shiny new drama Survivors is a strange experience. Having grown up watching the usual glut of zombie movies, I expect to see them jump out at the characters at every turn. You see, the show – which sees a group of people survive a worldwide pandemic that wipes out most of the earth’s population – has all the elements you’d expect of a zombie movie … just no zombies.
Take last night’s episode for instance. It had a classic zombie movie set-up:
A young boy goes into an empty sweetshop and starts filling his boots with the array of goodies he finds inside. So distracted is he by his good fortune, he doesn’t see the danger lurking in the shadows.
Now, in a zombie movie, the kid would be attacked by a wailing goon and would either be killed, bitten and infected or fight off the zombie using Sherbet Dips and Flying Saucers. The scene would end with the undead monstrosity crashing back into the display cabinets with a packet of Refreshers buried in his head. Job done – move on.
But in Survivors, this is not what happens. Where you’d expect a relentless cadaver raised from the dead, you actually get an old man with a baseball bat. Where you expect lots of screaming and bone crunching and blood ‘n’ guts, you get the old fella pushed into a display stand and then dying. And that’s it.
How shit is that?
Maybe it’s just me? Maybe I should get it out of my head that the armies of the undead are just around the corner? Maybe I should see this show for what it is – a survival story that’s a mildly distracting way to pass the time before the news comes on?
BUT I CAN’T!
Every time I see the characters get out of their cars on an empty motorway, my zombie movie watcher head shouts,
“NO! Get back in the car! The zombies are coming!”
Every time I see the plucky band of survivors go foraging for supplies, the part of me that sees shuffling corpses round every corner bellows,
“WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU GOING IN THERE? DON’T YOU REALISE WHAT’S IN THERE? ZOMBIES, THAT’S WHAT!”
And then sod all happens. It’s really odd.
So, to sum up, if you’ve ever seen a zombie film, or a futuristic mutant film or one of those films where a nuclear war has turned most of the world’s population into flesh-eating, cyberpunk shitbags, then Survivors is a disappointingly anticlimactic experience. If you haven’t seen those sort of films, you’ll probably get on with it. To me, there’s something missing at the show’s heart – something that can only be stopped with a blow to the head.
Or a packet of Refreshers.