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A terrible catastrophe has struck the population of Earth. Almost everyone on the planet has been rendered blind by the arrival of a bright comet and its debris lighting up the darkened skies, but the brightness has caused permanent eye damage. Bill Masen, who was unable to watch the spectacular but deadly free firework display, finds himself in a nightmarish world where he believes himself to be the only sighted person left. But soon he finds a soul-mate, Jo Pleyton, who can also see. As the days progress, they find more and more sighted people and together they make plans to build a future. But there is a problem. A walking, carnivorous plant called a "Triffid," which up until now was kept safely in paddocks and zoos, has broken free and has discovered a taste for rotting, human flesh. The remaining blind are helpless and many fall prey to the Triffids' lethal whipping sting, but can the sighted keep this fearful plant at bay? Written by
The title sequence, by graphics designer Douglas Burd, was shot on 35mm film and used quantized color levels in stark relief against a black background. Burd was killed during production when his self-made plane crashed during a flight. See more »
When Jack Coker flies off in the helicopter he is supposedly alone, but you can see a pilot flying the helicopter. See more »
When an asteroid shower passes over the earth, most of the world stops and watches the "once in a lifetime" spectacle. However the vast majority of the world find themselves blinded. This leaves the world at the mercy of the Triffids a strange species of plant that can move and attack humans, but whose value as an oil resource has seen them farmed and controlled around the world. In a London hospital, Bill Masen is confined to his hospital bed with his eyes bandaged up after a Triffid sting at work. The day after the shower, Bill wakes to find everything quiet with seemingly nobody around to take the bandages off. He stumbles out into the day to find the population blind and, with society quickly crumbling, Triffids seem like just one of the problems to contend with.
I quite liked the film version for what it was but it was quite different from the book. This BBC mini-series though, is much more faithful to the source material and produces three hours of television that are more about the people than the plants of the title. If you consider the six episodes, the Triffids are not present throughout and sometimes they are no more than yet another thing in the background. The main thrust is actually about the breakdown of society, the choices the seeing survivors have to make at the early stages and the later stages. As such it is a very British piece as of course there is the polite indecisions and stiff upper lips that see survival accompanied by a certain amount of shame and frustration.
Hannam's direction is good as he works well with the sets and effects he has available to him. He has a good script to work with that puts food for thought onto the table consistently, while he also maintains a fairly constant sense of fear in relation to the lack of everything we would expect. In this regard the early episodes were the stronger. Of course the effects are limited but the Triffids themselves are actually pretty good and, if walking, man-eating plants did exist then I imagine they may look like this. The sets are quite cheap and have dated as badly as the clothes etc but this is not really a problem since the material is what is interesting, rather than the effects. The cast mostly work well, with Duttine solid in the lead with Relph doing OK work alongside him and Colbourne a strong presence with a character that asks a lot of moral questions of the viewer.
Overall then, better and more faithful to the book than the film version. It looks dated and of course the effects are not brilliant but it is the complexity of a crumbling society and the choices to be made that keep it interesting more than the action of Triffid attacks.
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