Sunday, August 9, 2015

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 16 ("Lights of London Part 1")

This is the sixteenth in a series of blog posts dedicated to the 40th anniversary of BBC's "Survivors" television series. "Survivors" followed a core group of characters who managed to survived a devastating viral outbreak -- one which managed to kill off somewhere between 95-99% of humanity. Society has crumbled and now those who remain must relearn the old way if they have any hope of surviving much longer.

In our last episode, Jenny had just given birth to her baby. Unfortunately, the placenta didn't detach and she needed surgery ASAP. Ruth sent Paul into a nearby town to get supplies from the hospital. He successfully obtained what they needed -- but also contracted some nasty illness. Paul was isolated and treated with heavy doses of antibiotics, but ended up dying. Fortunately, his sacrifice was not in vain. Jenny survived her surgery. She ultimately named her baby "Paul" in his honor. It was a harsh lesson. Cities and towns are to be avoided unless there was an emergency. And they also decided to create an isolation building for those who do travel to the cities -- just in case.

Our survivors' new rule in immediately put to the test in this latest episode (titled "Lights of London Part 1"). Whitecross is approached by a couple named Amul and Penny. They were reportedly sent by Abby from a nearby settlement. Abby and her son were sick, as were others, and they needed Ruth and her medical expertise. After a bit of hesitation, Ruth agreed to travel there and help.

Penny & Amul
Of course, it was all a ruse. Penny and Amul came from London because of some new illness. They need Ruth's help to turn the tide. She initially resists, but then realizes that she's potentially been infected by whatever is affecting London. She reluctantly joins the couple as they transfer from a wagon to a car and then they take a left at the pack of rats before passing through the creepy tunnels. Don't forget to to pull through the tracks before passing even more rats and then you'll meet up with the guy with the phone who announces your arrival!

Seriously, the props budget for this two-part episode has to be astronomical!

Ruth is eventually introduced to Manny, the head of this community. He tries winning her over with fancy food, hot water, soap, upbeat music on the radio, and a local phone network. Ruth will have nothing of it. She wants to know why she was kidnapped. He finally relents and takes her to meet with the Doctor.

She eventually meets the Doctor and Nessie. They pretty much run the hospital. They are overwhelmed by a new disease called the London Sickness. Those who contract it experience strong fatigue and muscle paralysis before eventually dying. The larger community is unaware of the illness, but they are aware that London is a mess. I mean, it's organized fairly well. But something is in the atmosphere that promote illness. Even minor cuts go septic without treatment.

Ruth is being offered the choice of remaining in the community and helping them with overcoming the London Sickness, as well as the city's other problems. Plus, they want to start up some sort of medical school for the younger people so that there are people to carry on afterwards.

Personally, I think that's wise and I fully approve. Those who survived the Death need to stop thinking just about getting by, but also training the next generation to take over -- particularly when it comes to medicine.

Ruth is aggravated. She knows that it's not a simple matter of leaving if she chooses, given the complexity of getting into London in the first place! She agrees to help out in the surgery while she ponders this choice.

Ruth soon meets with Barbara. She is part of Manny's command team. Ruth inadvertently learns that there is a plan to move what's left of London's population to the Isle of Wight. And they want Ruth to be part of that initial team of settlers. They did not want Ruth to know about this big move -- but somebody forgot to tell Barbara.

Ruth is not pleased about this secret -- but once again, what can she do? She's essentially trapped in London with no way to safely escape. And none of her friends know that she's here!

Except that Greg decided that he wanted to meet up again with Abby. So he gave Ruth some time to attend to the sick and then traveled to the settlement where they were supposed to be. Except they weren't there and he quickly realized that Ruth had been taken to London!

Greg gets a map and then (after grabbing Charles) rushes off to London to rescue Ruth. Unfortunately, Charles is attacked by a pack of rats just as they enter London. Their flashlight gets knocked out and the episode ends. Which means that we've just lost two regularly cast members -- or we have to wait until the second half of this story in next week's episode!

Here are a few interesting tidbits before I go.

First, the episode is named "Lights of London" because there are fires throughout the city. It seems that all of the rotting bodies are spontaneously combusting. The smell is awful, but Penny assures us viewers that you get used to the smell -- but smoking cigarettes helps to cloak the smell.

Second, Manny and the other Londoners have consulted a major cricket field into farm grounds. That field is surrounded by electrical fencing to keep the rats away.

Third, Ruth is given a nice studio apartment, complete with a comfy bed, ugly nightshirt, radio, and shower. She immediately takes advantage of the shower and the radio. It took me a while, but it seems that they were played a muzak version of "Jingle Jangle" by the Archies. Unless the Archies stole that tune from someone else.

Fourth, Manny told Ruth early on that they received a radio transmission from Cairo. There were 12 survivors within that city and room for plenty more! Lots of food and fuel was being promised.

Lastly, I didn't write much about him but we were introduced briefly to a guy named Wally. He spent this episode skulking in the outer realms of London. He wants to get in, but was exiled by the community for reasons that will become more clear next week.

Wally is played by the late Roger Lloyd Pack. As far as I can tell, Pack is the only actor to play characters in this incarnation of Survivors, as well as the 2008 remake.

Stay tuned next week for "Lights of London Part 2."

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