The Last Train


ITV, 6 50-minute episodes

SF elements



I'll be up-front: post-apocalypse isn't my favourite SF sub-genre. I like SF because it lets me see how the world could be better, more exciting, or at least interestingly different -- not vicious, brutish and short. But TV SF is so thin on the ground, I'll try anything once. And one episode was all I lasted.

Here's the plot: a meteorite is due to hit Africa, and devastate the world [the apocalypse bit]. Some scientists know this is going to happen, and one is on her way by train to another to ride out the disaster, by freezing themselves. But her train is delayed (touch of realism here, this is in Britain, after all) and the rock hits while the train is in a tunnel. The canister of freezing gas goes off, the whole carriage full of cliched passenger stereotypes (the Scientist, the Cop, the Criminal, the Mother and her Children, the Sensible Middle Aged Lady, the Sensible Middle Aged Man, and a pack of extras who aren't long for this show) are frozen for an indeterminate time [the post- bit]. When they wake up, they don't know what has happened. Except for the scientist, of course, but she is reticent (in the usual way for this kind of show -- heaven forfend that someone should actually divulge their knowledge up front and make it easy ), and the others don't believe what little she tells them, anyway (it can't be true, because there had been nothing on television about it -- so at least the passengers aren't all stock conspiracy theorists, then). But all around them is a devastated Sheffield -- obviously many years overgrown, but they all seem to think it has been a day or two. Then some of the extras get nibbled to death by a wild dog pack (implausibly sleek purebreds, and who, pray, docked those Rottweilers' tails?) and everyone starts getting serious, and decides to pull together and trek off to find other survivors. As a 'shock' episode ending, we see a grave, dated 2012.

Dull, dull, dull. I can't be bothered to slog through another five episodes of cliches, posturing, ludicrous technobabble, coincidences, stodgy scripting and wooden acting. There is more imagination shown just in the face-painting of the post-apocalyptic New Zealand children's TV series The Tribe than in the entire first episode of The Last Train .

Rating: 6

[ unmissable | worth watching | passes the time | mind candy | unwatchable | unfinishable ]

reviewed 29 April 1999