I recently watched and greatly enjoyed the first season of AMC's zombie drama, The Walking Dead. After it was all over, I started thinking more about the history of post apocalyptic genre television, from Planet of the Apes (1974) to Jericho (2006 - 2008) to The Walking Dead, and struck on the Terry Nation series Survivors (1975 - 1977).
For those of you who have never seen it, Survivors is an absolutely grim and thoroughly fascinating British program about an insidious pandemic which wipes out modern civilization and leaves the shattered survivors to re-learn all the old trades in order to build a new -- and hopefully better - world.
I admire this aspect of Survivors very much, and it fits in well with Space:1999, which also premiered in 1975 and concerned a global apocalypse of sorts. Both series very much involve what Science Digest editor Arielle Emmett called (in regards to 1999) "the downfall of 20th century technological man."
Abby spends her afternoon staying fit, playing tennis with a recreation machine. This idea fits in with the theme of the story: that the technological man of the 1970s, faced with a population-destroying pandemic, will no longer have access to such leisure pursuits, nor the wherewithal to construct such machines. Later, close-ups and insert shots of radios, televisions and other modern conveniences appear, making the idea of the soon-to-be-lost technology a leitmotif of "The Fourth Horsemen.'
Over 500 million people were infected in what has been termed "the greatest medical holocaust in history." Hard to believe I'm writing about something that occurred less than a hundred years ago, isn't it?
Indeed, this bugaboo is very much with us today, in 2011. Remember last winter and the widespread fear of the H1N1 Swine Flu? Or all the talk the year previous that about avian flu?
The fear, of course, is that with modern air transport, a person could do precisely what a clumsy scientist does in the opening credits of Survivors: bring a fatal disease from country to country before anyone is even aware there is a problem.