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 The Day of the Triffids: 2009 BBC TV Series : Review
Day of the Trifids One of Britainâ??s foremost writers for literary science-fiction is retold in a dark lyrical version with a host of professional enthused team of top television and movie stars. Following in the footsteps of the one of British televisionâ??s most successful and satisfying adaptations for the series was a six part series from the BBC in 1981, now the BBC gets a chance to rebrand this series and retell it in a two part series with each part being 90 minutes in length, this is a new realisation of author John Wyndhamâ??s nightmarish classic of humanity on the brink of destruction, this series is called 'The Day of the Triffids.'

The genesis of the idea by author John Wyndham, which would eventually result with the novel, a movie production in 1962 the later TV adaptation from the BBC in 1981 and now the latest TV adaptation of the story has been retold in 2009.

Despite the additional problem of having to rework the original six 26 minutes scripts from the 1981 series into two 90 minute scripts for BBCOne, Executives were able to remain remarkably faithful to Wyndhamâ??s downbeat vision. In fact his only major alterations to the storyline of the original was to make the decision to update the novelâ??s 1950â??s setting to the present day, I also noticed that the unknown disease that was mentioned in the book and in the 1981 TV series appeared to be missing from this adaptation of the story. Thye have slightly reworked the central female character of Josella Payton from a wealthy author of a dubious novel entitled "Sex Is My Adventure", to a TV/Radio news reporter who is an obvious modern career woman. Her name is also changed from Josella Payton to Jo Playton. (This decision that might not have met with Wyndhamâ??s approval but was necessary because the BBC already had Jo Payton in the 1981 series and so could'nt reuse the same name for the two different adaptations). Another change found in this version that is different from the 1981 series is the character Jack Coker. For the 1981 series Jack was a British History teacher that wanted to help the blind people in London, now Jack Coker is a former Major from the US Army and is now willing to listen to Bill Mason than before.

Other changes in this version from the 1981 series is the adding of a main villian, who was played by Formula 1 driver Eddie Izzard, whereas before it was the British military who were taking control of Britain after the disasters. There also seemed to be a change in how the disaster that makes millions of people blind occured, in the novel and the 1981 series it was a meteor shower that burned out the optic nerve of people around the world. The main element of sex and repopulating the Earth was overlooked in the 2009 BBC broadcast. Another difference to the plot was that the Earth was blinded by a solar flare instead of a Meteor Shower.

Opting for a sombre, low-key approach to the shooting of the serial that complimented the BBC's new script and effectively evoked Wyndhamâ??s decidedly humanistic approach to the story. The director effectively chronicled the tale of humankind on the edge of extinction with a keen eye for mood coupled with a serious, near do(edited)entary, sense of the reality which Wyndham had originally succeeded in threading through his otherwise fantastical central premise.

In fact, the relatively simple central narrative of former Triffid farmer Bill Mason, (who ironically recovers from temporary blindness due to the effects of a Triffid sting, only to find most of the worldâ??s population rendered sightless due to the solar event), and his bid to both survive in a world of panic, disarray, and the ever encroaching menace of the killer plants themselves, while attempting to locate Jo and his own father who is capable to help oppose them, is conveyed with considerable flair and an all-pervading sense of constant menace. As Mason, the talented Dougray Scott, really invests the character with a solid, ordinary, everyday-yet understatedly heroic-everyman aspect. While Joely Richardson, succeeds admirably in making the character of Jo Playton, rescued and befriended by Mason during the early events of the story, a feisty and appealing yet believably vulnerable heroine.

And the consummately solid support of seasoned character actors such as Brian Cox as Dennis Masen, Vanessa Redgrave as Durrant, Eddie Izzard as Torrence, Jason Priestley as Coker, Jenn Murray as Susan, Ewen Bremner as Walter Strange, Lizzie Hopley as Hilda and Julia Joyce as Imogen. This would ensure the production a rewarding and much welcomed air of consistent credibility which helps draw and retain the all-important attention of the viewing audience.

The windmill used in the programme was Cobstone Windmill, Ibstone, Buckinghamshire. Shirning, the house used by Bill Masen's father is in fact Groombridge Place near Tonbridge Kent. This location was also used in the 2005 production of Pride and Prejudice. When Bill Masen is on his journey and wakes up in the aeroplane engine, this is the Boeing 747 which is parked at Dunsfold, which is the the home of BBC's Top Gear programme. The plane is frequently seen in the background when the Top Gear team are testing cars there. 10 Downing Street was Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire. Hedsor House was also used as Downing Street in The Boat that Rocked.

As for the titular stars themselves, the imposingly realised and ingeniously articulated killer plants succeed in remaining a compelling-and more importantly, believable and mysterious-threat throughout the course of the serial. Their motives un-revealed, their exact origins undisclosed, the Triffids are presented as being more akin to a terrifying force of nature which has seized upon mankindâ??s misfortune and reversed the normal status-quo with horrific implications for the disabled and almost entirely helpless former rulers of the planet.

Very high key for the BBC in December 2009 and ambitiously wide in scope, personal, yet with wide-ranging implications, 'The Day of the Triffids' is an almost textbook example of how to successfully and respectfully take a source material and transfer it into a genre classic for the television screen. The result is a perfect example of how a well-thought out and superbly realised production can influence and pave the way for a successful wave of sci-fi inspired series' just like those that graced the home screen in 2009.

FINAL SCORE : 8.8 / 10
Posted by mattyblog Wednesday, January 20, 2010 (17:31:34)
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