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SURVIVORS 1 DVD BOXSET - REVIEWS

16th November 2003

Rumours abound that Survivors Series 2 may be released in 2004.  Although sales appear to be good and several retailers have speculated that Series 2 will follow, that is all it is - speculation.  I will post news here if and when a go-ahead is definite and not before.
 


The following is a selection of reviews of the Series One release - for those of you that may have missed them - which are not available online:

 

BBC Ceefax (Page 548)
What is it with 1970s television title sequences? Just as with Secret Army, the opening shots of this stick in your mind, whether you realise it or not. The instant you see the first image of a bespectacled scientist you know you will see a flask drop in slow motion and a man start rubbing his temple. If you need reminding this is the famous 1970s BBC series about a virus wiping out most of civilisation. That's all in the first episode; the rest is about what its like surviving.
This is a similar release to the recent Secret Army, the same label: DD Video, with a 4 disc set that includes an extensive, even laborious, booklet. Army is perhaps the better show but this may be the better DVD as it has audio commentaries on two of its thirteen episodes and a documentary. Filmed at the time the commentaries were recorded with cast and crew the documentary is 48 minutes of interview.
It all looks dated but its amazing how quickly you get back into the series...

- William Gallagher

Ultimate DVD (Nov 03)
A sobering, unsensationalised '70s drama about the aftermath of a global pandemic, in which 99.99 percent of the human race dies. These 13 episodes focus on a small community of survivors brought together by Abby Grant (Seymour), Greg Preston (McCulloch) and Jenny Richards (Fleming) and the dilemmas they face. In its first series, the show is centred on the practicalities of living after the apocalypse, and the intelligent storytelling is complemented by powerful performances (Seymour, in particular, is compelling). Still relevant almost three decades on, Survivors leaves the viewer to ponder if it could ever happen here.

There are commentary tracks for the two best episodes: director Pennant Roberts and Seymour are reunited for the first time in 28 years for The Fourth Horseman. McCulloch and Fleming tackle the weighty Law and Order. The Cast Interviews (50 mins) dig deep into the minutiae of the show, but the host - plucked from the ranks of Survivors fandom - is somewhat awkward, and the piece would have benefited from illustrative clips. On Location is a minute of mute footage of filming, there's a decent Gallery of BBC Stills, and a collection of Fleming's own, more intimate, shots.
- David Richardson


TV Zone 170

There was a glaring omission in Channel 4's 100 Scariest Moments showdown; the most terrifying 50 minutes of television is the first episode of Survivors, The Fourth Horseman, and the scariest 50 seconds is its title sequence. Its a masterpiece of storytelling that gets across three vital points; in a lab somewhere, something has escaped form a broken flask; it kills, and thanks to air travel, nowhere in the world is safe...not even the domestic idyll of a pampered housewife who's about to find steel in her soul.
Nothing can match the impact of the opening episode, and there's an element of truth to comments that the series becomes a post holocaust Archers, with homilies on our reliance on technology replacing the Min. of Ag. lectures. But the quiet patches merely lull you into a false sense of security until more horrific moments strike, culminating in the chilling Law and Order. After a drunken killing, Abby Grant's community is faced with the pragmatic logic of punishment on the edge of survival: the community is already one worker down; execution would lose it another; but imprisonment would cost it two people's labour - a prisoner, and a jailer. What price justice?
The strong commentaries take in The Fourth Horseman and Law and Order, though its disappointing that star Carolyn Seymour doesn't contribute to the latter, as she's been outspoken about it in the past. They shine with the enthusiasm of actors who genuinely believed in the project, though the moderator can be a little over-enthusiastic with the production trivia. With home movie footage too, it's a strong package.
- Anthony Brown



SERIES TWO and THREE to follow ONE on to DVD?


28th October 2003


If there's a question about Survivors I'm answering most at the moment it's this one: 'Are series 2 and 3 going to being released as well?'. Currently, my answer remains the same: 'providing series 1 sells well'. I can assure you all that DD Video certainly want to release them and have the rights to go forward, but sales are absolutely crucial. As I'm sure you can appreciate there's no point in a company releasing a series and making a loss (as Sovereign did in the 90s). They quite rightly need to know that the venture is going to be worthwhile for them. The DVD does appear to be selling well - all we can do is buy it and cross fingers that sales are good enough. Rest assured as soon as I get any news either way I'll post it here.
 


The second question that I've been asked a lot recently is: "I hear series 2 isn't as good as series 1. Did the series take a nosedive?". Although different to series 1, in my opinion series 2 is excellent in its own right, in fact in many ways I even prefer it at times. The immediate aftermath of the death and the early struggles of the survivors as played out in the first series was always going to have more potential dramatically, but the continuing struggle to survive, depicted in the later series, is equally rewarding, if a little less jaw-dropping. For the most part the second series does concentrate more on the themes of self-sufficiency and social order than the first series, but this is an obvious natural progression. Our survivors have to learn to survive and this inevitably means learning to live off the land. Perhaps more importantly they also have to learn to live with each other - something which appears to be an even more difficult prospect for them! The emotional and personal conflicts that arise from community living in the world 'the death' left behind form the meat of the second season.

 

 

This isn't too say that there aren't any exciting episodes in the second run. There's the excellent Greater Love - in which Paul makes a dangerous journey to save Jenny's life;  the two-parter - Lights of London - in which Ruth is kidnapped and taken to disease-infested London, with Greg and Charles in hot pursuit; and A Friend in Need the first script penned by Ian McCulloch in which the community are under threat from a sniper.

 

 

The second series also benefits from a fantastic cast. Although we say goodbye to several regulars from the first series, some of their replacements are a marked improvement: warm and loving Pet (Lorna Lewis); a more headstrong Ruth (Celia Gregory); cheerful Jack (the late Gordon Salkilld); flirtatious and stubborn Melanie (Heather Wright) and the wonderfully grumpy and troublesome Hubert (John Abineri - clearly having great fun in the role). One obvious absentee is Abby Grant, however in her place Corn Dolly's Charles Vaughan returns as one of the series leads (again played by Denis Lill) to carry on Abby's tradition of crossing swords with Greg. There are some great guest stars in the second series too, including: Coral Atkins, Nadim Sawalha, Philip Madoc, Kevin MacNally and Patrick Troughton.

If you're desperate to know what happens to Jenny, Greg and the children next - I can assure you, you won't be disappointed - the second series of Survivors has a great deal to recommend it. Let's just hope we get that far!


GENRE MAGAZINE COVERAGE AND COMPETITION


22nd October 2003


The past month has seen a number of Survivors Series One DVD articles in the genre press...




DREAMWATCH

Issue 110 (see cover above) features a half page interview with Carolyn Seymour (which took place on the studio day) and also promoted the new release. Quarter page ads also appeared in this issue.

 

TV ZONE

Issue 169 of TV Zone (see cover above) features a 4 page article on the release. This will be followed in Issue 170 by a review of the DVD. Quarter page ads appeared in Issue 168.

 

ULTIMATE DVD

A 3 page review appeared in the November edition of Ultimate DVD magazine (see cover above). It seems the reviewer was not sent a DVD booklet just the discs.

SFX and SHIVERS have also runs ads for the release.

 

SURVIVORS DVD COMPETITION

 

The website Public Servant Lifestyle is currently running a competition which closes on 31st November. If you can name the creator of the metal meanies from Skaro (no - not Terry Nation - for the purposes of this competition he is the creator of the creator) then you could win the Survivors DVD. The review which accompanies the Competition Form is a mixture of the writers own views on the series and many sentences lifted from the back cover of the DVD (what I wrote - the phrase 'startlingly realistic' will haunt me to the end of my days!)

SECRET ARMY
For those of you who are also interested in the fantastic BBC drama series Secret Army check out Le Candide (Survivors' sister site) for DVD previews. This DVD is now being released on 27th October - a week later than originally scheduled.




A BEGINNING! - DVD AVAILABLE NOW


9th October 2003




The Survivors DVD should be available pretty much everywhere as of this weekend. There was a slight delay in the distribution of the title. Play and several other online retailers are in the process of dispatching their initial orders. Some high street shops are already stocking  it, others are awaiting their delivery.

Further advertising, including reviews of the release will appear this month (or next) in Dreamwatch, Ultimate DVD, TV Zone and Shivers.




DVD PREVIEW


5th October 2003


The following images have been screen captured from a review copy of the digitally re-mastered version of the DVD release. They all come from the final episode of the first series: A Beginning (these images may take some time to download).

 

 

Below: a screen capture of the Extras Page on Disc Four:
 

 

Finally two frames from the 'Cast Interviews' section:

 

 


 

ONLINE RETAILERS UPDATE

4th October 2003


Thanks to those of you who have been in touch about Loaded 24 7 which is selling the DVD at 37.99 (free postage).  I've had a few emails from people concerned about the reliability of Splash (see below) so maybe cheapest isn't always best. Contrary to my last update I realise that Play didn't quite list all the features as they don't mention the 36 page fully illustrated accompanying booklet (how I could forget that I don't know!). Loaded 24 7, however, do refer to it as well as the other features.

 

Below: The gang's all here! Clockwise L-R: Tanya Ronder, Ian McCulloch, Pennant Roberts, Lucy Fleming and Carolyn Seymour gather round to study behind-the-scenes photos from the first series. Photo Rich Cross.

 




LATEST INFORMATION @ FOUR DAYS TO GO

2nd October 2003


ONLINE RETAILERS - The release date for Survivors is still scheduled as next Monday. Many of you have noted the sudden price hike on Amazon from 37.48 to 43.99. This actually strikes me as a good thing and suggests that sales (on Amazon at least) have been good so far. Currently the cheapest places to buy the DVD online are: Play (currently 39.99) and Splash (currently 35.22).  If you haven't bought from Splash before their is also a 2 off first purchase discount. Incidentally, Play is the first online retailer to accurately list the release's special features and to correctly spell the lead actors names!

 

THAT FILM REEL - The short 16mm film extract is definitely part of the release but has been processed the wrong way round (I'm not sure whether this happened originally or in preparation for this release). It is however still a joy for any Survivors fan! I've captured two frames (below) to whet your appetites (Note Pennant directing proceedings in the checked jacket and Lucy watching in that startling tank top)

 


COMMENTARY - I have now listened to The Fourth Horseman commentary. Its very difficult to be objective about something when your own voice is involved but it is certainly amazing to hear Carolyn and Pennant enthuse about the episode and the series as a whole for the first time (in this medium). The BBC have made two extremely cautious cuts to the commentary where Carolyn vented her feelings about Dudley and the sound as a result dips in those places. The first cut concerned her feelings about their initial relationship and difficulty in getting the part given the fact that Dudley didn't want her to have it. The second cut concerned her attempts to fight for caravans for the extras on location which once more saw her come to blows with Dudley.

 

DD VIDEO - I should add here that DD Video have been extremely enthusiastic about the release and from the beginning their primary motivation was to produce the best possible package. Lesser companies would certainly have gone down the path of least resistance (i.e. spending nothing and just releasing the episodes) so we Survivors fans have been very lucky that the rights fell into their hands.

 

STT! - The well-respected design company Shoot That Tiger! (STT!) have done a great job of designing the booklet and the DVD and Video sleeves. Thanks to Adrian Hulme this release will also have the correct Survivors font (Glasersted).

 

Two booklet preview pages are reproduced below:

 


SERIES 2 - It is still too early in the day to speculate as to whether Series 2 will follow. DD certainly want to, but as always sales are quite understandably crucial (no company would release a series if they thought they might make a loss). As soon as there is any more news on that score I will of course provide it here.

 

Andy
 


NEW DD VIDEO PRESS RELEASE

16th September 2003


As part of the PR process for the Survivors DVD a new press release has gone out today:

'SURVIVORS - SERIES ONE'
 

Release Date:                     6th October 2003

Suggested Retail Price:   19.99 per VHS volume

                                                49.99 for VHS slipcase set

                                                49.99 for DVD set

 

One of the BBC's most critically acclaimed science fiction drama series comes to video and DVD this October, from DD Video

Conceived by Terry Nation (the creator of the Daleks and Blake's 7), Survivors is a groundbreaking and startlingly realistic television drama series.  First aired in 1975 at the height of the Cold War, Survivors' post-apocalyptic storylines immediately gripped the imagination of the British public and remain compelling viewing to this day.

The first series of thirteen episodes charts the onset and aftermath of a virulent plague that wipes out 99.9% of the world's population and the struggles of a lone group of survivors during the privations that follow.  The action follows the experiences of three principal survivors: headstrong housewife Abby Grant (Carolyn Seymour - Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Quantum Leap), enigmatic engineer Greg Preston (Ian McCulloch - Zombie Flesh Eaters, Contamination, Doctor Who) and London secretary Jenny Richards (Lucy Fleming - The Avengers, Smiley's People, Wycliffe).

On video, the series will be available as three video double packs, each retailing for 19.99, or as a slipcase set for 49.99.

The SURVIVORS SERIES ONE DVD boxed set contains all thirteen episodes, which have been digitally remastered for enhanced sound and picture quality.  The set also boasts a host of special features including audio commentaries and filmed interviews with stars Carolyn Seymour, Ian McCulloch and Lucy Fleming as well as director Pennant Roberts, with a special guest interview with Tanya Ronder who played Lizzie, private film footage shot behind the scenes during the making of Series One and a comprehensive 36 page fully illustrated booklet (containing new and previously unseen behind-the-scenes photos).

SURVIVORS SERIES ONE will be available in all good video and DVD stockists from October 6th, or direct from DD Video, Unit 1, Pool Bank Business Park, High Street, Tarvin, Chester, CH3 8JH.  Please add 3.75 towards postage and packing.  Credit card customers can also order copies by ringing the 24 hour DD Video hotline on 01829 741490.

The back cover of the second of the forthcoming VHS releases:






MORE PRE-ORDERING NEWS

29 August 2003


Amazon are now listing the Survivors DVD at a reduced price of 37.48. The videos are listed at 17.59 each and at 43.99 for the slipcase set.

Choices Direct now list at 42.49

Splash are currently offering the cheapest price of 34.22.

Streetsonline currently list the highest price - 45.99. They are selling the videos at 16.99 each and at 45.99 for the video slipcase set.

For those uncertain about whether they can view the DVD (region 2) on their machine please scroll down this page to the region information section.



PRE-ORDERING ON AMAZON AND BLACKSTAR
/ LUCY FLEMING PHOTO GALLERY
 

21 August 2003

 

The Survivors DVD and Videos are now available for pre-ordering on both Amazon and Blackstar at 43.99 and 42.99 respectively. Unfortunately there's no information about the DVD special features on these sites as yet, but just to remind you - they include:

  • 36 page full colour booklet.

  • Exclusive camera interviews with Carolyn Seymour, Ian McCulloch, Lucy Fleming, Pennant Roberts and Tanya Ronder.

  • Audio commentaries for The Fourth Horseman (with Seymour and Roberts) and Law and Order (with McCulloch and Fleming).

Once more there's further good news on the features front...as I can also now confirm that there will be two photo galleries on the DVD: a set of BBC photos and Lucy Fleming's personal collection of series one photos (some of which have previously appeared on Bob Meade's site) which she has generously provided for inlcusion. In addition, Tanya Ronder's mother - Anne Christie has agreed to supply some photos for the booklet, some of which I don't think have seen the light of day before.

 

I have yet to receive final confirmation re: the inclusion of the behind-the-scenes film sequence (see below) but 'fingers crossed'.


 

PRE-ORDERING ON CHOICES DIRECT
 

04 August 2003

 

The DVD and Video releases of Survivors series one are now available for pre-ordering on Choices Direct at a price of 42.99 with a new release date of 22nd September. The site also provides the first glimpse of the DVD cover - reproduced below. You may however want to wait until you see if other online sites list the release cheaper.

 

 



BEHIND-THE-SCENES FILM FOUND!
 

01 August 2003

 

Providing the BBC agree to its inclusion, a section of 16mm film will be included as one of the special features on the forthcoming DVD release! The section of film, which runs for a little over 1 minute, was taken by a Herefordshire resident, Solveig Tucker, who provided the two white horses seen in the final episode of the first series - A Beginning. The film shows recording of one of the final scenes from that episode in which Abby and Jimmy ride up to the back of Hampton Court and dismount.

 

 

Thankfully Ms Tucker had the foresight to also turn the camera on the production crew providing a brief but unique behind-the-scenes view of the making of the series. The film is in incredibly good condition (looking like it could almost have been taken yesterday) given that it has lived in a box beneath her bed for the past 28 years!

 

Ms Tucker responded to my April Hereford Times article which was intended to lead to the uncovering of exactly this sort of material (this was the article which erroneously stated that I already had exclusive footage). As far as I know this material is the only behind-the-scenes Survivors film currently known to exist.

 

I hope to provide some screen captures of the footage on this page in due course.




DD VIDEO BEGINS SURVIVORS ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN

 

01 August 2003

 

DD Video's advertising of the release has now begun and will step up as time goes on. I do not have exact details of where the adverts will be featured or what they will say but it is likely that as well as in the genre press, there will be an advert in the Radio Times (for one), nearer the release date. According to the advert below Saturday October 4th is the new release date for the DVD and Videos.

 

Thanks to Rich Cross for providing the scan of the following DD advert from Darkside magazine:

 




RELEASE DATE CONFIRMED / BOOKLET NEWS
 

The DVD set and the three DOUBLE VIDEO sets for the first series of Survivors will be released on Monday 6th October.

The full colour booklet  which accompanies the DVD release is 36 pages long and contains:

  • episode chaptering, synopses (teasers - no spoilers), trivia

  • information on special features

  • an 11 page behind-the-scenes production article

  • cast biographies and cast/crew credits

  • behind-the-scenes photos

  • studio day feature

More information soon!

 

(For those that are interested - the first series of Secret Army will now be released by DD a month later than originally scheduled, in late October)




EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS FROM DVD STUDIO DAY
 

25th June 2003

 

Here are a selection of  Rich Cross' excellent photos taken at the Sound Company recording studios earlier this month...

 

Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger picture.


Lucy and Ian
Carolyn 

Carolyn Interviewed Ian. Tanya and Pennant


All photos Rich Cross 2003



STAR LINE-UP CONFIRMED FOR DVD RELEASE
 

6th June 2003

 

An amazing list of Survivors luminaries took part in the Survivors DVD recording day in central London yesterday. They included Carolyn Seymour (who had flown over from Los Angeles especially), Ian McCulloch, Lucy Fleming, Pennant Roberts and Tanya Ronder.
    


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Above: Promotional artwork for the forthcoming release (this will not be used on the DVD or Video covers).

 

Two audio commentaries were conducted in the morning. Carolyn and Pennant recorded the commentary for The Fourth Horseman, while Ian and Lucy responded to Law and Order. I acted as moderator on both to help them out with their hazy memories.

 

The afternoon saw 'before camera' interviews with all the contributors. Tanya's arrival at 4.00pm was a carefully guarded secret and a great surprise for the gathered stars.

 

A full report and images of the shoot will appear here in due course. The DVD is still scheduled for release in early October.

 

Andy




ANNOUNCEMENT OF CONTRIBUTORS


3rd June 2003

 

A full and accurate announcement of the full list of contributors to the forthcoming Survivors DVD release will be posted here on Friday 6th June.



 

AUDIO COMMENTARY


12th May 2003

 

One of the planned extras for the forthcoming DVD release will almost definitely be an audio commentary for the popular episode Law and Order. No names of any contributors can be confirmed at this early stage.

 



SURVIVORS is to receive its first DVD release in 2003

28th April 2003

 

I can now confirm the exciting news that the first series of Survivors will be released in the UK in October as a DVD boxed set by DD Video. The special features and extras are not yet finalised but are likely to include a photo gallery, some cast interviews, commentary for one of the episodes and a colour booklet. As I will be involved in the production of the DVD release, I will able to update you on the latest news here, as and when it becomes available.

Watch this space!


 

For the official press release click here

 



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