The makers of this two-part sci-fi mini-series, whilst bagging an iconic premise that has yet to be remade to death, must have wished they’d set their stall out to make this so much sooner.
Having seen Survivors make a return to our screens and the 28 Days/Weeks later movies already capitalise on the startling imagery of a post-apocalyptic UK, this mini-series seemed to be jumping on that same bandwagon.
However, the source novel ensures the originality of the plot devices to get the world into a state where carnivorous plants roam free amongst a population mostly disabled by blindness.
The story is given a slightly “topical” twist. Although the original novel does mention the spread of Triffids across the world is due to its oil. This story takes that one step further and has the Triffids universally harvested for their oil as a replacement for fossil fuel. The Triffids are known to be dangerous and are therefore kept under high security conditions. Of course, all this goes to pot once the solar light display, watched by most of the world, renders anyone who watched it blind.
Unfortunately, from pretty good beginnings, the show spirals downhill dramatically – almost as quickly as London descends into chaos following the blinding lights. Seemingly within minutes, the whole city is panicking with sighted people, once revealed, chased for help even if forced at gunpoint. This seemed to be an attempt to inject some frights and thrills into a slow part of the show and seemed like a direct rip-off of 28 days later.
Amongst the chaos we have sighted people bumping into each other with such regularity, you might think they were blind.
Dougray Scott is Bill Mason, the scientist who despite working for the Triffid oil company, spends his time trying to understand how they communicate and live. This obsession is helped by unremarkable flashbacks to the death of his mother at the hands, or should that be leaves, of the Triffids. He was having an eye operation following an earlier Triffid attack (in case you were wondering why he missed the light show).
Joely Richardson is quite possibly the most famous radio broadcaster the UK has ever seen, given everyone’s ability to recognise her voice (she was in a tube station, although seemingly everyone else in there died).
Eddie Izzard (yes, Eddie Izzard!) was asleep beneath an eye mask on a plane. He survives the plane crashing by inflating half a dozen lifejackets in the toilet. He then harbours a rather bizarre desire to rule the UK or possibly the world. Even more bizarre is that people actually bother to follow him as their leader.
What should be notable, but are actually pedestrian, cameos are:
Ewen Bremner as an animal/plants rights campaigner who breaks into the secure Triffid facility.
Jason Priestley as a US air force pilot who I can only think was cast in an effort to get some US network interest.
Vanessa Redgrave – crazy nun.
Brian Cox as Bill’s estranged father – who happens to still be researching Triffids.
Unfortunately, despite what on paper appears to be a good cast, the whole story evolves at a snails pace. There are no surprises or moments of tension at all.
It’s B-movie standard at best. It actually makes Survivors look good. I’d recommend the 80’s mini-series or the original 1962 movie with Howard Keel for more thrills.
From a promising start, this ends up with 2/5