Current status: Last aired July, 2002

BBC 1981

Mass blindness sweeps the planet in a single night. Society falls into chaos, leaving survivors vulnerable to a deadly disease and a mysterious species of genetically engineered plants with a taste for human flesh. A chilling and intelligent sci-fi thriller that is more allegory than monster film, this BBC production of THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS is truer to the vision of John Wyndham’s best-selling 1951 novel than the well-known 1963 feature film.   

This three-part series begins when the hero, Bill Masen, wakes up in the hospital after eye surgery only to realize that something is very wrong. The normally bustling hospital is far too quiet, and no nurses have been in his room to tend to him in some time. In a panic, Bill rips the bandages from his eyes to see what has happened. He soon discovers that most of the people in the hospital, London, and most likely the world have gone blind. The cause — the previous night, Earth passed through the tail of a comet. For those who watched, it was the last thing they would ever see. The mass blindness almost immediately causes society to crumble. Making matters worse, a species of genetically engineered plants, the triffids, soon get out of control and begin to attack. Bill rescues a young woman, Jo, from a street gang looking for sighted slaves, and the two struggle to survive in this strange new world.

THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS is more than a simple story of man vs. triffid. The one-hour episodes depict the breakdown of society into colonies and factions as people adapt to the changes wrought by the calamity. With the loss of everything they had taken for granted, the characters learn, with varying degrees of success, new ways to fend for themselves. Providing a constant threat are the triffids. Modeled after real parasitic plants, with many details of their origins and intelligence kept ambiguous, they create a truly sinister effect.

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