The Day Of The Triffids DVD review

[from DenofGeek.com]

The BBC’s recent fresh take on The Day Of The Triffids turns up on DVD. So what does Matt make of it?

Published on Feb 8, 2010

A DVD release of the latest adaptation of John Wyndham’s ‘cosy catastrophe’ 50s classic is heartily welcomed by me as, painfully, I missed episode one over Christmas as my digi-box recorder packed up. After the disappointing 1962 film and the terrifying-at-the-time Good Life­-gone-bad 1981 series, this version suggests that Wyndham’s story is moving in the same direction as The Hound Of The Baskervilles, being repeatedly reinterpreted for new audiences and new generations. I, for one, welcome this. There is plenty of room in Day Of The Triffids for future adaptors to ‘modernise’ and to introduce timely twists to build on Wyndham’s central plot.

Or should that be plots? The Day Of The Triffids follows the adventures of Bill Masen and Jo Playton, played by Dougray Scott and Joely Richardson, as they struggle to survive after most of the world’s population has been blinded by solar flares. As two of the few remaining sighted people, Masen and Playton face the dilemma of whether to save the less fortunate or themselves. This dilemma is complicated by the existence of mobile, carnivorous plants, the Triffids, and by the villainous Torrence played brilliantly by Eddie Izzard.

The one weakness of Wyndham’s story is the improbable double conceit of the solar flares (in the book a meteor shower) and the unconnected Triffid menace. In this adaptation, this is reconciled partly by dividing the two crises between the two episodes.

The first focuses on Masen and Playton encountering two different communities in London, the first excluding the blind, the second forcing the sighted to care for the blind. In this episode, bar the occasional encounter and the hugely effective cliffhanger, the Triffids remain unseen and marginalised, with only Masen’s repeated warnings reminding the viewer of their presence.

The second episode leaves the city and the blind behind as Masen travels across country to find his father, fellow Triffid scientist Dennis Masen, played by Brian Cox. This episode rapidly turns into what Doctor Who fans would call a ‘base-under-siege’ story as Masen senior’s very attractive manor house is slowly surrounded by the deadly vegetation.

The effect of splitting Wyndham’s ungainly double-concept plot in this way is highly satisfactory. In doing so, the parallels between the London bases-under-siege by the blind and the rural bases-under-siege by the Triffids are hammered home.

Thankfully, the adaptors resisted the supposed temptation to relocate the story to a more glamorous location, instead setting it in the cosy and, to me at least, familiar South Downs of England. In doing so they retain the central and most memorable power of the Triffid/blindness crises: the threat to the traditional, stereotypical qualities of Britishness.

Throughout the two episodes both blind and sighted are shown helpless, debased and undignified, at the mercy of and ultimately usurped by the distinctly foreign plant life. After defeating the increasingly violent and desperate Torrence and lead by (ironically) the American Major Cocker, Masen and Playton find their way to the safety of the Isle of Wight, protected from the Triffids by the Solent.

I was impressed by this adaptation and surprised by the negative reactions on Amazon.com. The casting was perfect, especially Izzard who seemed to relish the role of the morally bankrupt Torrence. Brian Cox who, David Tennant-like, seemed to be in almost everything over Christmas, was equally strong as the short-lived but pivotal Dennis Masen.

The CG realisation of the Triffids was well done and true to the original story, The slow reveal over the episodes ratcheted up the menace. I wasn’t entirely convinced by their method of moving, as with the 1980s series, but it is difficult to know, without a major redesign of the whole plant, how this could be done. The overall impression was that the Triffids had some sort of feet that were never shown on screen and this, after a time, becomes faintly comical.

Just as the 1980s series was a late example of the 1970s preoccupation with self-sufficiency that gave rise to, at extremes, The Good Life and the original Survivors, the remake encourages comparison with the rebooted Survivors, a series I rather like but feel needs an extra dramatic dimension.

What The Day Of The Triffids made me realise was that a global apocalypse doesn’t automatically lead to a fast paced drama. What’s required is the more instant threat of the Triffids.

Ultimately, it made me realise that, while Wyndham’s original story seems contrived, both fantastical elements are essential to fully and economically realise the dramatic potential of the catastrophe.


The disc is extras-light. The accompanying ‘making of’ documentary is satisfactory, but I suspect they could potentially have constructed an entire extra based on an interview with Eddie Izzard.

[four out of five stars]

Written by Momo in: Day of the Triffids |

Day of the Triffids – BBC Mini-series – review

[from BSC]

Bill Masen, a scientist who has spent his life working with the genetically engineered, carnivorous plants known as Triffids, finds himself one of the few sighted people left in the world after an intense solar event blinds much of the population. But if you think that sounds like a bad day, then imagine his horror when he finds that a loony environmental activist has released the deadly Triffids from the farms where Masen was attempting to study them.

This, then, is the set-up for the BBC’s latest adaptation of John Wyndham’s classic SF novel. Don’t ask me about how faithful an adaptation it is, because – as ashamed as I am to admit it – I’ve never encountered the Triffids before. And perhaps that’s the best way to come to an adaptation like this: treating it as a fresh and original story without any baggage to affect how the story comes across.

Certainly, this latest BBC mini-series looks the business. Aside from the dodgy effects in the opening solar flare, the dark and claustrophobic urban sets and the sprawling, desolate countryside scenes create an effectively doom-laden atmosphere, and the early crowd scenes where those suddenly struck blind start to grab out for any seeing person they can are unnervingly effective, if finally becoming a little melodramatic.

The cast are solid, ranging from merely watchable if a little flat – Dougray Scott, as the lead, is given little to do but keep telling people that the Triffids are dangerous while maintaining the kind of heroic scowl you know is going to melt when he finally admits that he’s falling in love with Joely Richardson – to absolutely excellent – Joely Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave’s bleeding obvious but still fun cameo, and, of course, Dundee’s finest, Brian Cox. My biggest worry was Eddie Izzard as the mysterious Torrens, a man who survives an air crash and uses the sudden apocalypse as an opportunity to grab at some kind of power and reinvent his life. That we are given no clue as to who he was before the crash merely adds to his creepiness. Although, at times, Izzard seems to channel the spirit of his James Mason impressions from his stand-up routine just a little too closely.

The plants themselves are wisely kept to the shadows for much of the show. A tendril here, a purple-balloon head there. A click-clacking noise and a cast member yanked out of view, the under-seige sections of the show were very well done. In part two, especially, Joely Richardson’s run through Triffid-infested London was unsettling and rather tense, even if there was a feeling that overall she was going to make it out of there.

Where the series falls flat is in its use, or overuse, of SF and apocalyptic plot staples. Vannessa Redgrave clearly has fun in a cameo as a nun who may not be as holy as she seems, but the minute she appears on screen you can guess what she’s all about. And when a couple of rifle-toting kids appear on screen, you know they’re going to go all soft and gooey before too long.

There’s also the matter of several characters behaving conveniently for the sake of the plot moving forward and the constant hammering-over-the-head with a solution from Bill Masen’s childhood that comes in rather convenient later on down the line. The script writers clearly took the idea of Chekhov’s gun and held it close to their hearts. There’s also the not-so-subtle commentary about how quickly society could break down when you take away all the creature comforts. And some incredibly obvious talk about environmental issues and how there’s no such thing as a true quick fix to any problem. Yes, we get it: we, as humans, are going to be the harbingers of our own doom if we don’t wise up (and if we don’t start to see what’s happening around us – oh, is that why the Triffids always go for the eyes, then?). We’ve seen enough apocalyptic films and TV shows to have all that figured out without the script constantly using the characters as mouthpieces to remind us.

But, despite heavy-handed thematic elements, some overused plot devices, Dougray Scott’s horrifically bored-sounding voiceover that recalls Harrison Ford’s effort in the 1981 cut of Blade Runner, and Jason Priestley’s fairly pointless on-screen presence (on the whole, his character makes very little difference to events and is soon enough gently pushed off-screen until a final deus ex machina appearance), Day of The Triffids is a fairly slick few hours of entertainment. And, as long as you don’t take it too seriously or think too much about the plot, it is one of the more effortless contemporary mini-series that the BBC has produced in quite some time.

Written by Momo in: Day of the Triffids |

Day of the Triffids Trailer

Don’t forget that it will be shown on BBC One Dec. 28/29 at 21:00 GMT!

Written by Momo in: Day of the Triffids,video |

Eddie Izzard on his role in TV remake of The Day of the Triffids

[from conventrytelegraph.net]

AMONG the stars of the BBC’s upcoming remake of The Day of the Triffids is the comedian and actor Eddie Izzard.

Izzard, now 47, made a relatively late screen debut in Damien Hirst’s 1996 short film Hanging Around and is the first to admit he hasn’t received any formal acting training.

He considers his starring role on the American TV series The Riches as his “drama school”. The Hollywood writers’ strike in 2007 and 2008 halted filming and despite the series’ success, it was never picked up again once the strike ended so Izzard is hoping to do a film version instead.

Although he made his name in stand-up, Izzard says he prefers “really gritty, interesting dramas” and if good film roles don’t arise, he’ll do TV roles instead.

And that’s why he agreed to appear as the “charismatic sociopath” Torrence in two-part futuristic drama The Day of the Triffids, to be screened on December 28 and 29.

Izzard says he’d watched the 1962 film but not the TV series from 1981. “I was at university but you’re not supposed to stay in and watch anything at university are you, well I never did.”

The story follows the few sighted survivors after an unexplained solar storm blinds much of the world’s population. Torrence is among those left to battle the deadly plants.

He said: “This is what I’ve worked out: The whole world is the classroom, politics is the classroom, how we interact is the classroom and it gets very feral. If we’ve adapted The Day of the Triffids right then it should feel like this could happen.

“Everything interesting is about energy. Fireworks, war, parliamentary question time, rock concerts, it’s all about energy changes and we’re intrigued.

“In Day of the Triffids parts of London are seen as decayed or broken up, that’s why the Blitz was a hellish time but also a fascinating time.”

Written by Momo in: Day of the Triffids,TV |

The Day of the Triffids (2009) (Region2/UK BD) in February

[from dvdtimes]

Showbox Home Entertainment have announced the UK Region 2 DVD release of The Day of the Triffids on 1st February 2010 followed by the UK Blu-ray Disc release a few weeks later on 22nd February 2010. RRP is 19.99 and £24.99 respectively.

One of the highlights of the BBC’s 2009 Christmas TV schedule, John Wyndham’s classic 1951 post-apocalyptic bestseller The Day of the Triffids comes to the screen as an epic, brand new, contemporary adaptation written by Patrick Harbinson (Law And Order: Special Victims Unit; E.R.) and directed by Nick Copus (The 4400; Eastenders). The new version is described as an effects-laden CGI extravaganza about a world threatened by carnivorous, man-eating plants. The cast includes Dougray Scott (Desperate Housewives), Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck), Eddie Izzard (Valkyrie; Ocean’s Thirteen), Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy), Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement; Evening), Jason Priestley (My Name Is Earl; Medium), Shane Taylor (Band Of Brothers) and Ewen Bremner (Hallam Foe).

Features include:

* “Making of” featurette
* VFX progress
* Behind the Scenes
* Interview Gallery (18 interviews)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio options
* DTS HD MA 5.1 audio track (Blu-ray only)


Written by Momo in: Day of the Triffids,Movies,News |

Day Of The Triffids: Eddie Izzard

[from The Manchester Evening News]

EDDIE Izzard reveals: “I carry a distinct amount of rage with me from my mum being ripped out of my life, which is very pushed down.

“So I try and channel that. I liked the idea of this character. I thought it was good to get my teeth into. I jumped straight in and enjoyed it.”

Comedian, Hollywood film star and marathon man Eddie makes his BBC TV drama debut as sinister Torrence in The Day of the Triffids (BBC1, Monday Dec 28, 9pm).

The two-part story is based on John Wyndham’s best-selling post-apocalyptic novel of the same name, first published in 1951.

In the not too distant future, man’s search for an alternative fuel supply leads him to uncover the ominous Triffid, a crop that seems to have a life of its own.

When spectators gather worldwide to watch a solar storm, billions are left blinded and the few sighted survivors watch as society collapses into chaos.

Meanwhile the Triffids find their way out of captivity and are free to roam the planet with a fatal sting and a taste for human flesh.

This latest adaptation has an all-star cast including Dougray Scott, Joely Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox and Jason Priestley.

Torrence is on a plane when the solar phenomenon occurs but keeps his sight after deciding not to watch it. “The plane crashes but he’s the only person who survives by the bizarre means of getting all the life jackets out, surrounding himself with them in a toilet and inflating them to use as airbags.”

Eddie, 47, was just six when his mother Dorothy, a nurse, died of cancer. Does he think she’d be proud of what he’s achieved? “Yeah, I hope so. She did amateur dramatics. I’ve just been sent a whole load of pictures of her singing on stage at Christmas in 1958.”

The path from comedy to dramatic acting was a long one for Eddie. “It’s like stand-up. I couldn’t do stand-up when I first started. It was a year and a half between the first two gigs. But apparently I’m now quite good at it.”

Those who have seen his stage act may have heard the tale of how he broke into Pinewood Studios when he was 15, having spotted the film mecca’s location on the end credits at the cinema. “I took a train to London, a tube to Uxbridge and a bus to Iver Heath,” he recalls.

“So I march up to the entrance and say, ‘Hello, I want to be in films. Can I have a look round?’” The security guard’s negative reply is not repeatable here.

Undaunted, the teenage Eddie circled the site and discovered a second service entrance. Having observed people coming and going, he walked in as if he worked there. “I realised you have to be moving quite fast, because then you’re doing something, as if on an errand.

“I usually didn’t tell anyone when I was doing these things,” he smiles. “I left boarding school to audition for the National Youth Theatre. I worked out that I could just leave and no-one would know.”

With a power vacuum in Downing Street, the obsessive Torrence realises that he has an opportuntiy to step in and take control. Determined to rule over the remaining sighted population and keep the blind away from the centre of London, he cannot forsee the approach of the Triffids towards the capital.

“Torrence is very fixed on what he wants to do. Ambition is a brilliant thing. It depends how you use it. I wanted him to have this quality that would seem charming. Like Hitler was supposed to be charming. He was this benign uncle unless you were on the other side of that sociopathic divide.

“As Hitchcock said, ‘All the villains should be charming.’ The more I relax and fold into roles, the more it’ll get interesting.”

Eddie, also a guest on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross (BBC1, tomorrow, 10.35pm), has had a very busy 2009, including running 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief and a huge comedy tour which called at the MEN Arena last month.

But film is his first love and he’s happy to have finally made it into a BBC drama, having been careful not to typecast himself on screen.

“I’ve done a comedy show but I haven’t done a sketch show or a sitcom, to try and get through to roles like this. If you think Robbie Coltrane and Cracker or maybe Alan Davies and Jonathan Creek, you just not have to do comedy shows. And I got to work at Pinewood,” he laughs.

“I seem to be better as the fine wine approach to a career in film, fermenting it over a number of decades. I also broke into Elstree as well. A mini career of breaking into studios and stealing make-up.”

Written by Momo in: Day of the Triffids,TV |

Eddie Izzard reveals all about Day of the Triffids

[from whatsontv.co.uk]

Eddie Izzard stars in BBC1’s new adaptation of the classic sci-fi story, The Day Of The Triffids. The comedian tells What’s On TV about his part in the horrific story…

Who do you play in this version of The Day Of The Triffids?
“For people who don’t know the story, suddenly 90 per cent of the world goes blind after watching a solar storm, but my character Torrence is in the lucky 10 per cent who keep their sight. Torrence is a bloke on a plane who decided he wouldn’t watch the amazing solar storm. In fact, he sleeps through it while it makes everyone else on board go blind. So he’s left as the only one who can see on the plane and he deals with it in a very bizarre way. Torrence decides to get all the life jackets out from under everyone’s feet, and ignores people as they’re screaming. Then he goes into the cabin toilet and inflates them so he’s surrounded himself with them like he’s cocooned in a massive airbag. He’s the only person who survives the plane crash!”

What’s Torrence like?
“He’s a sociopath and emotionally cut-off. I like to think of Torrence as maybe an orphan. I was trying to put my own back-story into him a bit. So we’ll see how that plays out. Hopefully he should look like a charismatic sociopath. He actually seems quite intriguing and flirty but gradually gets dangerous and attracted to the power he can have by being sighted. He even tries to take over at Downing Street. I also felt like he should have had a military background, so I put that into him, too. It was probably Territorial Army, not an elite force. He wouldn’t have the fear of killing or being killed, so doesn’t fear the Triffids. So he’s probably quite useful when dealing with nasty things like Triffids.”

How were the Triffids?
“They’re dangerous b****rds! They’re so tall and they can sting you from such a long way away. And if they sting you, that’s the end of you. You’ll never keep a pot plant in the house again after seeing one of these things. I do get to shoot a couple of Triffids. Towards the end I’m actually trying to kill Dougray Scott’s character Dr Bill Masen, but the Triffids get in the way of me doing it.”

How does the two-part story pan out?
“I suppose it’s kind of like a zombie film. There’s also something in it about what happens if the structure of the country breaks down and what would you do? In my head, as an acting transvestite, I’d of course immediately think: ‘I know there’s a shop down there where they sell some lovely dresses. Go down there, kick the window in!’ I’d have to put a cushion there before kicking the window in. I know because I’ve sliced up my finger breaking a window before.”

Is Torrence a flirty character?
“He’s definitely flirty with Joely Richardson’s character. I wanted him to seem charming, like Hitler was supposed to be charming. He’s not full of hate, though, he’s just quite cut off from reality. I carry a certain amount of rage within me, because my mum was ripped out of my life when I was so young, which is very pushed down within me so I did try to channel that in Torrence. Dougray Scott’s character – Triffid expert Dr Bill Masen – is immediately very wary of Torrance, who’s kind of breezy when we first meet. But after a while I’m Tasering him and stuff.”

Have you seen previous adaptations of the Triffids story? There was a 1962 film starring Howard Keel and a six-part BBC1 series in 1981…
“I hadn’t seen the previous BBC production, but I’d seen the film. I remember being really scared of that, especially when someone was carried across a field injured and by the end of it they were dead. And it ends up in the lighthouse, doesn’t it? I like the updating of the story we’ve done here, the idea that we were taking the story on and setting it just slightly in the future where Triffids are cultivated to provide a new cleaner fuel. Of course it eventually has fatal consequences. It’s all very clever.”

*The Day of the Triffids will be shown on BBC1 at 9pm on 28 and 29 December*

Written by Momo in: Day of the Triffids,News,TV |


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