Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not the Reality Show - Review of Survivors

The other day, Deus Ex Machina and I found the BBC television show Survivors as an instant view on Netflix, and so we watched a few of the episodes.

The program is based on the premise that there has been a worldwide viral pandemic. At first, it's just that everyone is getting sick, but because so many people are sick, services (like electricity and mass transit) are disrupted. Then, officials realize that the disease is a bit worse than they first thought and people start dying. Those who either had a natural immunity, or who, somehow, kicked the virus, are the Survivors, and they begin to find each other - with mixed results.

It's a very interesting program. It focuses on a particular group of seven unlikely companions and their adventures in the post-virus world. One survivor, Greg, is encouraged to join the group when he collides with another survivor as they are both speeding down the deserted highways, and Abby, thinking there is no one else, runs a stop sign. Of all of them, Greg is the most logical about the situation, and his original plan is to travel as far as he can into the "country", find a place and begin living a subsistence life.

As the show progresses, they all talk, again and again, of the need to begin raising their own food. They understand, pretty quickly, that the stuff in stores won't last very long, but with the exception of getting a few laying hens, they make very little progress in this endeavor.

Another concern I have is with regard to their attitude about books. Although one of them says, "You can learn a lot from books", they don't really spend much time perusing bookstores. They find a man who has been injured and go to a bookstore to look up some drugs they can use to help with preventing infection, but they don't take the book with them. In fact, there are very few times during the program when using books to find answers to their many problems happens. Instead, they continue to run around, looting stores and breaking into private homes to find the supplies they need. There seems to be very little effort made to learn survival skills.

The most egregious mistake they make (aside from not trying to learn survival skills from the get-go), in my opinion, is their use of resources. Instead of being careful with the fuel they have and using it for things like powering a chainsaw for chopping wood for the coming winter season, they are constantly driving all over the place, scrounging for food and bottled water. I guess it's just a little disconcerting to me to be watching this program in which 90% of the population has been wiped out, and yet, these people are still heavily dependent on cars, and don't seem to be making any effort to change that habit.

Of course, the whole looking for bottled water thing just makes me cringe. They are in the UK, and my guess is there's plenty of water without having to find Poland Spring in plastic. They might have to boil and treat the water, but it would be better than fighting (literally) other survivors for the few bottles of water that are left in the stores.

Or better, yet, how about if they used some of those resources to secure water? I'm sure there are hardware stores in the UK that carry all manner of tools, like a hand auger that could be used to drill for water. Or worstcase, how about a good, old fashioned shovel?

And food, too. If the UK is anything like the US, there is a veritable grocery of wild edibles available for the taking. In fact, even though the human population hasn't been decimated by a viral plague, Deus Ex Machina and I went in search of wild blueberries this evening ... and we found them. We also found sarsaparilla with berries. The whole plant is edible, and we're planning to harvest the berries to make wine.

The woods, fields, and even parks are full of food, and while the rest of the survivors are scavenging for the last few morsels left in the stores, a group of wild foragers would be full and sated ... and off the radar screen of the other survivors who are willing to shoot first and ask questions later. No one is going to be paying much attention to the crazy lady who's gathering plants along the roadside ... at least, not initially.

Eventually, the looters will run out of things to scavenge, and then, they may come looking for the forager survivors, but by then, the survivors would have an intimate knowledge of their habitat, and finding them, if they didn't want to be found, might be a very difficult thing for people who've only explored the remnants of civilization.

Of course, I know that a show about a bunch of people learning primitive survival skills, including foraging, after a worldwide plague has killed 90% of the population, isn't nearly as exciting as guns and kidnappings and crazy, Fagin-like men who send children out to collect stuff for him in exchange for the privilege of a place to sleep and some video games, but if I had to end up in an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario, I'd rather be hanging out with someone like Steve Brill or Ray Mears (or the amazing, talented, smart, and incredibly gorgeous Deus Ex Machina), than running through Macy's and stealing designer coats.


  1. Did you see "The Colony" on Discovery? (I think it was Discovery... I wonder, was it TLC?.... *wanders off, scratching head*.... )
    Basically the same show. Season one had folks that were Docs, nurses, engeneers, etc. Season 2 had mechanics, artists, that kind of thing. Very fun to watch, both seasons. 'Course, I didn't always think the scenarios were realistic, or agree with the choices and priorities of the "players", but still enjoyable....

    1. I watched a couple of episodes and stopped. I was incredibly annoyed by their consumption of vast amounts of time spent to build an electricity generator. I like electricity, but it seems such a waste to invest so heavily in that one thing, when there are so many other needs that can be satisfied with half the effort and time.

  2. K. Now I followed the linky, and maybe "The Colony" was similar only in the 7-people-survive-a-pandemic-let's-see-what-they-do sense.

    I'm gonna have to go watch "Survivors" now....

  3. Survivors was based off the book by Terry Nation by the same name.

    You may want to check out The Colony as barefoot gardener mentioned. The one draw back is that it's a reality TV show so they put some odd people together just for some internal tension. If you can get past that though it's a fun look at how people will act.