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The Story Telling Cheats But It's Still Chilling Drama
This was broadcast on Channel 5 in the UK to absolutely no fanfare . I caught it by mere chance flicking through the TV pages of the newspaper . It had an intriguing title and intriguing premise involving a bout of super flu effectively destroying civilization . Sounds a bit like the recent remake of Terry Nation's SURVIVORS done in a docudrama style with a hint of classic British apocalyptic fiction ala John Wydnham and John Christopher . What I didn't realise until it started was this was an American television show which led me to groan thinking I'd be watching a disease of the week TVM
Thankfully I stayed if only down to the talking head interviews of historians and scientists speculating what could cause society to collapse inter cut with the dilemma of Californian couple Chris and Ellen Johnson and their teenage son . The saga of this trio burns a little too slowly to be totally successful but as the flu sweeps through the world and society slowly and painfully unravels it becomes more and more compelling . After a couple of weeks there's not enough people left alive to bury the dead . Infrastructure breaks down meaning electricity stops , water supplies stops and the Johnson's realise they have to leave LA if they want to survive . Unfortunately a large amount of survivors have the same idea and many of them realise that compassion has no function if they have to survive
As the narrative continues it becomes increasingly compelling and depressing at the same type . There is a major spanner in the works and that is characterisation and massive and unlikely coincidences are introduced . In order to take a car Johnson jnr suddenly reveals he's able to hot-wire a car . A talking head policeman mentions how difficult it is for someone who has been conditioned not to take life to kill someone . Cut to Ellen Johnson saving her husband by shooting a bad guy . Perhaps the most ridiculous and unconvincing scene is where Chris gives an injured motorist an intravenous painkiller and a spare bottle of water - a commodity that the previous scene has bludgeoned the audience over the head that is in dire short supply . Then a few scenes later when the Johnson's are literally at death's door they are rescued by the motorist they saved !
This stops AA being as good as it should have been because there's a strong element of cheating going on and the Johnson's are very obvious literary devices rather than real people . That said it's unusual and refreshing to watch an apocalyptic drama from the States that is so downbeat . It doesn't have the depressing and shocking nature of the BBC docudrama of THREADS but in its own way it's a very effective speculative drama
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