This is a BBC series that was two seasons (and MAN, I wish it had continued, as the cliff hanger at the end of season 2 was sublime, but alas... it is done).
Premise: A flu epidemic has killed all but about 10% of everybody. That remaining 10% appear to be immune to it—they don't get sick at all... with one exception—the main woman in the series is so sick that she MISSES everyone dying around her. Her husband nurses her and she is WAY out of it... when she wakes up, everyone around her is dead. The first episode is this person by person finding another, then pairs finding each other... Until they are the small cluster of people we will watch through the two seasons as they try to make due.
This is a nuclear war set-up—I believe it turns out 23 US cities have been bombed and the show follows the life in a small Kansas town and how they try to renegotiate life in a time that returns to bartering. The town has a small medical clinic, a single store, a bar, a church... and a lot of baggage, as small towns do.
Why are these stories so appealing to me?
The situation brings out the best and the worst in people—some people become savage survivalists—every man for himself (or clan for himself, as the case may be). But there are also people who really rise to the occasion. I think the disparate directions personalities can take when subjected to desperate circumstances makes for such great fiction.
CONSPIRACY!!! Oh, I LOVE a good conspiracy, and both of these seem to have one under the core... in fact Survivors has more than one—a bit like when the Ministry and the Death Eaters were not yet the same thing—and organized force of evil and an organized force of “good” that is playing by the 'any means necessary' rule. Makes for a rich canvas of enemies.
New and Old: I am talking relationships here. Survivors is people who did not know each other previously, and I love the intentional fresh start, but where their past always comes back to bite them. I like the unlikely alliances formed. (in this case, my favorite is actually between a young Muslim boy—very devout, who is the only one to stand up from prayers as all the others have died in the midst of it, and a young oil prince of sorts—his mother is English and father a Kuwaiter oil guy—the young man in his 20s has clearly always been pampered—the two find each other first and have brought such opposite sides of their culture that they really hate each other initially, but end up very close.)
Jericho is the opposite case—small town folks are way too involved in each other's lives—so much so that some people try to flee—the main character in fact is one who has only come to collect an inheritance (unsuccessfully) and leave again, but the bombs hit as he leaves causing a series of car accidents and a need to find it in himself to do the right thing and save a bus full of kids. There are expectations everywhere for him to screw up and people around every corner he's had run-ins with...
I think the fiction take-home messages are these:
Make the stakes VERY high. Life or death is good.
Limit who can be trusted. A lot.
Make sure the bad guys could COMPLETELY devastate the MCs.
Keep the focus on relationships. Throw some really unexpected alliances in there.
Keep jerking the solution just out of reach.
So there you have it. My excuse for watching TV. Teehee.
Any of you have any shows currently feeding your fiction brain in large doses?