Author Archives: john-richards

YOU are invited to the Boxcutters Eurovision Party upstairs at Seraphim (formerly Vibe), 123 Smith Street, Fitzroy on Sunday, May 15th, 2011.

43 countries enter… one country leaves.

Join the excitement and the insanity as the glitter hits the fan.

Survivors (1975 – 1977)

seymour-in-survivors.jpgThe recent decision by the BBC to revive Terry Nation’s 1970s dystopian series Survivors probably wasn’t that much of a surprise. In the wake of the hugely successful Doctor Who (and copious spin-offs), we’ve seen the return of Quatermass, Captain Scarlet and Day Of The Triffids. There’s even endless rumours (or threats) of a rebooted Blake’s 7.

The 2008 version of Survivors started off as a lesser-populated EastEnders before descending into sub-Lost territory, and was finally put out of its misery at the end of the second season (which ended – optimistically – with a cliff hanger). The best word to describe the show was “workmanlike”, combining all the usual elements of 21st Century genre telly in all the usual ways.

That’s not how you’d describe the original. Debuting in 1975, it remains the bleakest programme ever to be a prime-time hit. A man-made virus sweeps the earth, killing the majority of the population. Faced with disease, wild animals, starvation and loneliness, the few who are left struggle to survive. It’s hard to imagine showing that one against Masterchef today. Survivors, however, was a hit in the UK and across Europe, and watching it on DVD now it’s hard to imagine anyone having the guts to make such unrelenting fare now.

Part of the success is due to Terry Nation cleverly playing against type – two of the three leads are female, and Abby Grant’s search for her son forms a rock-solid premise that other story lines can weave around. Carolyn Seymour as Abby is superb, playing the part with a stoic determination you wouldn’t see on telly today. Lucy Fleming plays plucky Jenny Richards (the only totally likeable character) and Ian McCollough plays granite-faced tough guy Greg Preston. The first series raises difficult questions about the life ahead and society they will need to build, and the episode “Law And Order” still packs a punch, an unrelenting tragedy combining rape, murder and the failure of justice.

Sadly the show goes off the rails after the first season, getting bogged down (literally) with the minutiae of subsistence farming, muddled storylines and continued (and seemingly random) changes of cast. Most shamefully, Jenny Richards gets relegated to background “wife-and-mother” character and Abby Grant vanishes altogether (Seymour claims she was fired for being argumentative and drinking too much, so she moved to the US and played villains for the next 20 years. She’s particularly good as Dean Stockwell’s evil counterpart in two episodes of Quantum Leap).

All three seasons of Survivors are now available as a 39-episode box set and are worth a look, if only to see a time when television was made without focus groups or the bourgeois concept of audience appeal. The lack of incidental music, the grimy look, the strong female characters and the powerhouse credit sequence all form a convincing world that make for a fascinating visit. You do have to allow for the cheap video look and cod-Shakespearean delivery that was de rigueur for the times, but even these add a certain quality to this barren world.

A final word on the recent remake – in a bizarre piece of legal jiggery-pokery the 2008 series claimed to be “based on the novel by Terry Nation”. That “novel” was actually a novelisation of the 1975 series published a year after it went to air. Yet Adrian Hodges still had the gall to claim a “created by” credit. Shame, Adrian, shame.

Find TV series, DVDs and Blu Ray discs, including the complete Survivors Series at Sanity Entertainment.

In episode 202 we suggested there should be a action show called “ACMA Squad”. Actualchad agreed, and sent us this:

acmasquad

If you’d like even more Boxcutter action – and who wouldn’t? – here are a few other shows you may enjoy:

The PodcraftJade Gulliver‘s show about podcasting – is usually a tight half hour. Not this week. Really, it’s like a bonus episode of Boxcutters as?the fabulous Jade tries to get a word in edgeways.?It’s sixty minutes talking about television?- teacher, mother, secret lover. Warning: podcasts about podcasts may break the internet.

That Podcast Show says some lovely things about us, and they’re American so it feels like Hollywood. Listen to the lovely Daniel and Jana?by clicking here.

Josh flies the Boxcutters flag as guest on episode 20 of?The Fool And The Opera, Joy Melbourne’s opera show (hosted by the fantastic Dan Vo).

And don’t forget you can see what the boys would look like if they were awkwardly holding televisions by clicking here. Oh, and buy some T-shirts. It’s better than going nude.

Boxcutters Get Sexy

We’re about to go into the studio to record Special Edition Charley, but before we do, a quiet word in your shell-like ear – we want your input for our first show of 2009. We’re going to be looking at two shows that revolve around sex in the ’70s, and we want your opinion.

Sex on television – is there too much of it? Is there too little? What works for you, and what doesn’t? What is gratuitous and what is justified? What would you cite as good and bad examples?of sex on television, and why? In your opinion, does television portray sex unrealistically? Unethically? Unyieldingly?

We’ll be reading your comments out on the show (it’s just like CNN!) so feel free to discuss the issue in the comment below, or email us at?hooray [[at]] boxcutters [[dott]] net,?or sms us at 0458 288837 (that’s 0458 BUTTDR. Or even 0458 CUTTER).

Boxcutters – you only get out what you put in. Oh, that sounds rude. And a Happy New Year to you all!

Louis Theroux, literally…

I was going to bring this up in Pork (or “Brett’s Special Moment” as Josh and I have now renamed it) but we ran out of time…

You may remember back in episode 155 we talked about Louis Theroux, who is now (rather belatedly) playing on Channel 7. They seem to have bought an enormous package of Theroux, covering everything from his first Weird Weekends series running through to his later stand-alone pieces. Well, if you think too much Theroux is barely enough, there’s a book you can read as well…

Continue reading “Louis Theroux, literally…” »