I can't really remember the 70's original, but I did feel the remake hadn't really shed its 70's roots. For a start, the stuff about all the phones etc going dead so quickly seems to be just wrong. And the people in it are all so terribly middle class! Is this a plague that preys particularly upon people with regional accents? It seems like it! Even the murderer is a well-presented, intelligent and articulate sort of chap.
For a world in which 99%* of the population are dead, aren't there an awful lot of people about? 1% survival is (if I have this right) about 607 762 people in the UK: assume that some of those are small children, very elderly or infirm and can't survive without assistance, that leaves at a very generous guess, say 600,000 teens and healthy adults ? There are 9739 filling stations in the UK, so if I have done my Sums correctly, that's 61 people per filling station: what are the odds that if you went to get petrol, you'd be there at the same time as someone else, *and that that person would already have found a rifle and know how to use it*? I'm not sure how many rifles there are in the UK, but I don't think I'd know where to find one, would you...?
Although there seem to be plenty of people about, the animal kingdom is almost nonexistent. I'm not sure if the mammals are supposed to have caught the mysterious plague as well: I thought maybe they had - until we got to the sort of Lord of the Flies episode with the Heir of the Manor living in the woods and the teenage boys in the manor house, where the Heir is living off rabbits. If the rabbits have made it in large numbers, why are none of the houses inhabited by desperate dogs that have eaten their owner's bodies? Why are there no packs roaming the streets? Most mysteriously of all, why are all the fields empty? Where have the cattle and horses gone? One episode is set in what looks like a farm that is set up for cattle, yet I don't think we saw a single cow. We have had a dead sheep, but as sheep seem to die for the fun of it at the best of times and there was no explanation where it came from, that doesn't help...
One assumes that the characters are supposed to be in shock, so I suppose one cannot criticise them too strongly for not thinking that if they want to 'live in the country and keep animals' that it would be a good idea to find somewhere pronto and get started before most of the potential breeding stock starves to death, dies of complications of not being milked, or gets eaten. But if that is the case, it would have been nice to see them showing a few more signs of shock and confused behaviour. Even Abby, the mother-character looking for her son, seems to be strangely relaxed about doing anything about it. Only a couple of episodes actually show her actively looking (though to be fair, she is I think supposed to be one of the sympathetic-but-useless characters so that sort of fits I suppose).
I'm not sure if you are supposed to think that the minister Samantha Willis is totally deluded or only partially so. It seems fairly clear that her hope of building a brave new world with a bunch of barely-controlled thugs is pretty thin, but it would have been nice to get some explanation of why the thugs even consider doing what she says. Surely at some point one of them will simply deck her with a spade and set up on his own account? It was hard to imagine her a successful politician: she seemed so devoid of charisma.
And not great on the practical front either: her suggestion that 'unskilled' people would dig ditches made me think :
1) Could there be a worse way to try to persuade people to do what you want?
2) In a world with a huge and complex industrial infrastructure, where the central problem is lack of people with the skills to man it all, repair it and make it work, why on earth would digging ditches be a priority...? I mean, OK, ditches fill themselves in eventually, but drainage is not the first thing I'd worry about in a post-apocalypse situation, myself. I'd have thought the ability to read and understand the manuals for stuff would be rather useful!
3) What makes her think that only skills that come from paid employment are important? If I have a brave new world to build, I reckon a waitress who has kept an allotment for 10 years would be more use than a gardener, whose skills are nowadays likely to mostly involve mowing lawns, clipping hedges with power tools, and the installation of gravel...
4) In the sort of brave new world she seems to be envisaging, wouldn't a previous career as a murderer actually seem like something that would endow you with useful skills...?
Anyway, regardless of my grumbles, we did watch it all the way through and it has clearly provoked a reaction, so the series is clearly doing something right! I hope we see more of the Sinister Scientists, I liked them. And Al, he's a great character: I love the idea of a playboy trying to cope with the end of civilisation, that's great. I could do with less of Abby though, I know she's supposed to be loveable, but I just want to give her a slap!
* I think that's the figure the Sinister Scientist Guys give, though where they get that data from is a Mystery.