Close your eyes and listen. Just listen. Because the Triffids' warbles and burbles—a whole rainforest of sound—are so evocative that the show could have been devised for the blind. It's a fabulous soundscape that unlocked doors in the imagination whose keys had been lost since childhood.
Unfortunately, when the Triffids finally totter onto the screen they are visually underwhelming. The CGI lacks realism (insufficient subsurface scattering?), they're animated with a ludicrous waddling gait, and their branches and roots defy logic to grow in seconds and entwine nearby humans (as opposed to, say, unfurling from a bulb). Nothing in their re-imagining improves on Wyndham's original "stumpy-legged", ambush predator.
But the need to make the plot unfold quickly is forced upon writer Patrick Harbinson by the restricted, three-hour running time. A ten-minute episode in a nunnery where Vanessa Redgrave's Mother Superior has forged a truce with the Triffids could have been spun into a forty-minute how-has-she-dunnit? Instead its just another anonymous leaf in the canopy.
And their's unimaginative direction too. When the world goes blind we get tiny, street-level shots of devastation rather than an overview of a city-wide calamity. (And where are the RTAs?) Contrast this with the opening of Flash Forwards.
Nor can Harbinson escape criticism: people's reactions, on finding themselves blinded, is unconvincing, and his decision to restrict widespread knowledge of Triffids means Bill Mason (Dougray Scot) must constantly explain the dangers until we're all bored.
But despite these shortcomings, there's lots to commend – particularly in the second episode. Mason's new backstory and his reoccurring dream of African masks are welcome revisions. The plan to sterilize the Triffids is not plausible. And the whole escapade romps along, with solid acting, especially from Joely Richards and Jason Preistly. Whatsmore the ending is satisfyingly downbeat, and leaves open the possibility of a follow-up series - which I'd welcome more eagerly than the return of Survivors.