Survivors: 3.2 Contact

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Updated: January 11 2016 19:57


Survivors audio dramas from Big Finish

A lonely voice on the radio calls out across the ether. Maddie Price is a long way from home, but not yet ready to give up hope.

Survivors - Big Finish - Series 3 - Episode 2 - Contact

SUMMARY series three

DESPERATE FOR NEWS of her American homeland, Maddie Price has taken up residence in the Post Office Tower. With the help of her new companion Jonathon, she is sending out hourly broadcasts to survivors across the planet. Dalton and Molly agree to travel to Waterhouse to collect new radios that will enable them to make their rendezvous with Abby and Daniel. Crossing London, Daniel and Abby take shelter in a tube station when the pair come under attack from an armed gang of youths. Now styling himself and his cronies as the British Government, Vinnie is determined to shut down Maddie's broadcasts - paranoid that they might attract travellers with infections from overseas. Abby and Daniel reach the Tower, and are elated when its residents make radio contact with survivors in the USA. Vinnie finds his way into the building and his gang take control. Abby attempts to negotiate with Vinnie, but when Maddie continues to broadcast, hoping to discover the fate of her fiancé, he smashes the equipment and locks up the group. Still at liberty, Jonathon flips on the power and, in the chaos and confusion of sound and light, the prisoners try to escape. Will their efforts succeed, or will some of the group pay the ultimate price for defying Vinnie...?

COMMENTARY

SCRIPTWRITER SIMON CLARK is a long-time enthusiast of Survivors, and he is immediately at home not just with the texture of the character of Abby Grant but also with the rich potential of the post-apocalyptic urban landscape of 1970s inner-London. The Post Office Tower is such an icon of the seventies London skyline, and provides exactly the sort of enticing dramatic setting that would have been completely beyond the ability (and the budget) of the original TV series' production team to explore.

Mindful, as ever, of the established Survivors' canon, Big Finish are keen to depict the capital as a fragmented place where, in the first year after The Death, no one community holds unchallenged sway. The Gillison compound (seen in Big Finish's first Survivors series) exists on the fringes of the city. Vinnie's interest in expanding his own empire throughout the streets of London is credible because (it can be deduced) the reign of market-trader Manny (as seen in the TV series' two-parter "Lights of London") only appears to stretch so far.

American attorney Maddie Price, last heard escaping under fire from Gillison's murderous henchmen in series one's Exodus, has proved herself to be a predictably robust and resourceful survivor. She has made her way back to London and is broadcasting to the world (in the hope, most of all, of reconnecting with her homeland). Brought to life with great warmth by Chase Masterson, it is Price's personal resolve and preoccupation that unwittingly brings her into direct control with the toxic Little-Englander manifesto of Vinnie Vincent.

It is Abby's bravery and strength that prevents Daniel from being swept away to a watery grave

Price's companion, the thoughtful and considerate Jonathon, is an interesting character, gently positioned somewhere on the autistic and Asperger's spectrum, but not lacking in ingenuity or imagination (when it comes to disguising the entrance to their headquarters, or hoodwinking the invaders who take it over). Although there is no hint of a romantic entanglement between the two, Jonathon eventually pays a high price for his concern for Maddie: rather than fleeing from the Tower when Vinnie places it in lockdown, he devises a plan to free his compatriots, Price first amongst them.

Clark's writing and Carolyn Seymour's assured performance both effectively foreground the impetuous, driven and sometimes reckless aspects of Abby's character, as she pursues her relentless search for her son Peter. These character traits lead to some very plausible conflicts between Abby and her travelling companion Daniel Connor; personality clashes which are exacerbated by the perils that the pair encounter, but which do not threaten their growing bond. Daniel here is shown as understandably chastened by his appalling experiences in series two. Despite that, he has clearly found new strength of temperament and does not hold back in his efforts to rein Abby in. It's also great to see the equally strong, powerful and passionate characters of Abby and Maddie clash with each other; before finding an accommodation that will see Abby help Maddie in her quest to get away from UK shores.

En route to the Tower, the pair survive two near-death experiences. The London revealed here seems very similar to the place described by Paul Pitman in the TV episode "Spoil of War", with his account of roaming gangs of snipers and thieves. The gang of youngsters who try to trick, rob and kill them evoke memories of the infamous post-apocalyptic Action TV comic strip "Kids Rule OK". Forced into the tunnels of the Underground, it is Abby's bravery and strength (mental as well as physical) that prevents Daniel from being swept away to a watery grave.

The celebration of Maddie's success in contacting American survivors by radio is uplifting (and unexpected) stuff; but it proves short-lived as Vinnie takes control of the building and its occupants, and gives vent to his poisonous, isolationist ideas.

The group's bid to escape from Vinnie's clutches (an attempt which ends in tragedy for one of the party, and the recapture of two others) brings events to a conclusion with a convincing cliffhanger, and paves the way for the much-anticipated return of Jimmy Garland: not someone likely to allow Abby Grant to be held prisoner by anyone for long.

With accomplished performances throughout, consistently strong sound design and direction, and an impressive first script from Simon Clark, Contact delivers a winning mixture of high-adventure and fresh insights into the survivors' plight.

REVIEW QUOTES

A POWERFUL EPISODE that tears down the niceties of what 'can't be done' in civilised society.
Tony Fyler, Warped Factor

SIMON CLARK EXCELS at this sort of tightly paced and contained, nasty action and Vinnie is in full flow here... He's a horrific human being, a roiling catastrophe of rage, plausibility and bigotry, and Clark and Thornley put him centre stage here.
Alasdair Stuart, SciFi Bulletin

A VERY TENSE episode, you can just feel the disaster coming, my heart was in my mouth as I inevitably waited for Vinnie to play his hand.
Ed Watkinson, Planet Mondas

 


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Latest updates

 

Series nine reviews added

Added: 13 July 2019

 

Series eight reviews added

Added: 9 January 2019

 

Series seven reviews added

Added: 14 January 2018

 

Series six reviews added

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Series five reviews added

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Series four reviews added

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Series three reviews added

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New interviews added

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Links

Original TV series (1975-1977)
Survivors remake (2008-2010)