Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 30 ("Mad Dog")

This is the thirtieth 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.

This latest episode, titled "Mad Dog," features Charles Vaughan. He has left everyone behind Edith's farm so that he can search for her missing son, Tom. Very quickly in this episode, Charles is attacked by a pack of vicious dogs. He manages to get bit by one of the dogs before being saved by a traveler.

The traveler's name is Richard Fenton. He trades guns for food and supplies.

Richard Fenton
Charles pitches his idea about federalizing Britain's survivors, which causes Fenton to scoff. Fenton think that this is "pie in the sky" thinking and that it's better to remain detached from everyone and everything. After all, society is dead and those who've survived are just remnants waiting to finish the job!

Fenton does reveal three interesting tidbits to Charles. First, he's met Greg Preston. Second, Fenton has maintained a detailed journal of everyone he's encountered since the Death. And third, there's lots of rabies in the area. So, it's possible that Charles now has rabies! But it's too late to do anything about it!

Charles has a minor freak-out, but ends up camping out with Fenton. Unfortunately, he discovers Fenton feverish and slightly delirious in the morning. It turns out that Fenton has rabies!! He asks Charles to kill him -- but Charles won't do it. After all, he needs to find that journal! Instead, he ties up Fenton and runs off for help.

Charles brings a couple of men to the house. They find Fenton foaming at the mouth and running around like a madman! After a quick chase, they manage to shoot the trader in the back!

The men quickly discover that Charles is sick. Instead of quarantining him, they decide to kill him. They are concerned that he will get killed by a pack of dogs. The dogs would get infected by his blood, and in turn will put the surrounding farmers and livestock in danger of infection.

Charles manages to escape. But ends up getting all sorts of injuries during the escape, including getting shot...

... and getting tossed by a horse... twice!

Pretty soon, the entire countryside is out searching for the possibly infectious Charles Vaughan!

Exhausted, Charles ends up collapsing outside of a farm. The farmer is a woman named Ellen, who fortunately doesn't panic like the others when it comes to rabies. She assesses Charles' injury and decides that he does have rabies! (Probably)

Ellen gives Charles some food and a horse. Unfortunately, that was the second horse to toss Charles to the ground!

But fortune continues to favor Charles as he discovers himself next to a working steam engine! He crawls on-board before the crew finishes shoveling in a bunch of coal and manages to escape to a nearby train terminal!

Charles is patched up by a medic and then the train engineers offer to transport him far, far away! But not before revealing that they've met Greg Preston and have listened to his speech about connecting Britain's people and rebuilding society!

I jest a bit when it comes to Charles' misadventures in this episode. But it really is a very strong episode -- much better than I remember it being when I first saw it a few years ago!

Morris Perry -- the actor who portrayed Fenton in this episode -- did a marvelous job, both before and after the progression of his rabies infection. His degeneration from a detached intellectual into a foaming lunatic was inspired!

"Mad Dog" also did an excellent job of balancing weighty dialogue and intellectual jousting with action-packed chase scenes. All in all, it's been my favorite third season episode so far.

Before I go, I forgot to mention that Charles actually managed to stumble upon Fenton's cottage in the midst of the hunt. He found Fenton's journal and discovered that Greg had been sent to a nearby coal mining site. He pocketed the journal, which will be an important prop in next week's episode.

We will meet up with the rest of our travelers next week in "Bridgehead."

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