Sep 9, 2010

[TV] The Day Of The Triffids (2009)

The Day Of Triffids (2009)More and more, I find myself admiring British television for taking bolder steps in terms of promoting science fiction and fantasy. While US network television is often quick to pull the plug on budding science fiction shows that fail to demonstrate record-breaking viewers right out of the gate, it seems over in the UK, they're getting more and more shows and TV movies of the geekier variety.

This goes way beyond Doctor Who (although it probably starts somewhere there). We have continuing shows like Being Human and Misfits and new ventures here and there like this one. It's hard to puzzle out precisely why us geeks are getting more liberties over there as compared to the US, but I'm definitely not going to look a gift horse in the mouth anytime soon. For as long as this trend continues on, I'm definitely going to milk this cow for all it's worth.

And then there's Eddie Izzard!

First edition hardback coverImage via WikipediaThe Day Of The Triffids is a TV mini-series based on the John Wyndham novel of the same name. It's not the first time anyone has adapted this story into a production. There have been radio plays, TV shows and even a movie based on this book.

In an alternative version of Earth, mankind has finally solved its energy woes by genetically modifying carnivorous plants known as triffids to allow people to harvest their oils as an alternative fuel. The highly organized farms around the world do their best to contain these vicious and rather intelligent things while using them as fuel sources. The movie starts with triffid expert Dr. Bill Masen (Dougray Scott) manages to thwart a sabotage attempt by an anti-triffid activist but not without injury. Bill gets injured by one of the triffids, potentially blinding him.

But because his eyes are covered in bandages, he's one of the few humans on the planet who are spared becoming fully blind because of a freak Solar Eruption that is far stronger than before it. Bill realizes that he still has his vision and that the rest of the world is now blind, but he decides to make his way to the triffid compound to ensure the males are safe in order to prevent them from pollinating with the females. But he's too late and the triffids are freely roaming the planet. Now it's up to him and a few other sighted survivors such as radio personality Jo Payton (Joely Richardson). But naturally factions are beginning to form as people start to adopt a siege mentality by hoarding supplies and weapons. Plus you have Torrence (Eddie Izzard), someone who managed to survive a plane crash only to start to gather to himself amidst the chaos.

This two-part miniseries was certainly a well-made production despite the often damaging label of "made for TV". In fact, the production quality seems to be even better than some movies that I've seen make it to the big screen, even during the big US summer season. And despite the blatant use of CGI to depict the triffids, the entire effect was largely believable. I never thought that I could consider a bunch of plants as villains and yet that's what the behind behind this little TV movie managed to do.

The casting wasn't too bad either. Dougray Scott did rather well as the troubled hero at the center of this tale, given his interesting acting history filled with mostly villainous roles. He's not quite an anti-hero, but he's certainly no angel either. I couldn't care less for Richardson since she wasn't that big a character. Besides, she certainly paled against the likes of Izzard. Eddie Izzard is Eddie Izzard and it's hard to fault him for acting as, well, practically himself. Still, he does give Torrence a good amount of depth, even if we as viewers can't understand why his followers still decided to stay with him despite him being, um, Eddie Izzard.

I can't comment on the story itself in contrast to any of the previous adaptation or even the original book itself. But as for this particular TV mini-series alone, I have to admit that I'm largely happy with how things progressed. It's your classic case of nature rebelling against the manipulations and abuses of man once the playing field is made equal. We don't even need to understand why the solar eruption was able to blind everyone on the planet simultaneous despite the differences in exposure to the sun. In the end, that was just a plot device, one that was utilized to full effect. The movie is full of these quirky little plot devices that help things move along that reek of nostalgia for older tales that are no less gripping within a modern context.

The Day Of The Triffids was a great television event and a great story handled quite well overall. It gets 4 angry triffid males out of a possible 5.
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