DVD Review: The Tribe (Series One, Part One)

What would happen if a mysterious virus swept across the globe that killed all the grown ups? Would kids maintain an orderly way of life and do their best to continue civilization’s course? Would there be a near utopia as youth proves the can overcome the elderly hatreds and work with fresh eyes in a spirit of cooperation? Or will things go to hell like when the substitute teacher has to leave the class to take an emergency bathroom break? According to The Tribe, Series One, Part One the kids are going to use The Road Warrior as their guide to a new society.

Before Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, New Zealand’s biggest entertainment export was The Tribe. The post-viral apocalypse show has elements of the BBC’s Survivors. This time the mystery bug doesn’t randomly kill people. It’s merely the grown ups that drop dead. Populations are reduced to looking like a summer camp run amok. What happens to a society when all the traditional structures have been torn apart? Without adults there’s no true sense of order that needs to be maintained. But there’s still a quick belief that safety comes in numbers. Inside the city of Wellington, the kids realize safety comes in numbers. The smart ones form power gangs so that they can control turf. Since kids don’t want to operate factories or farm, they’ve turned into a scavenger culture. They need to make sure nobody steals their stockpiles of canned foods.

At the start of the series, the Locusts (or Locos) are recognized as the most feared of the tribes that control a hunk of the city. They have adopted a punk attitude and look that’s cribbed from The Road Warrior. They like to drive around their turf with a menacing motorcade in order to make sure the other kids know they mean business. But there’s one small group of kids hiding in the refuse that won’t join the tribe. They eventually bond good enough to find their own turf inside a shopping mall. They eventually become known as the Mall Rats. On top of dealing with the emotional grief, the kids have to worry about normal teenage hormone issues. Things get complicated early on when one of the girls is pregnant. What do teens know about delivering babies? During good times, the average kid sleeps through health class. But if they’re going to repopulate the world, they do need to get a grip of basic medical procedures. Perhaps somewhere in the mall is a copy of Delivering Babies for Dummies. In this middle of this pregnant moment, the Mall Rats still have to worry about attacks from the Locusts. Nobody seems to want a little quiet time during the post-apocalypse to figure out how to get things right.

The Tribe is addictive viewing. Make sure you have plenty of time when you start watching the first 26 episodes on the boxset. The twenty-five minute episodes turn Degrassi into a Lord of the Flies world. The series feels like the reality of what would happen if things went to hell at a junior high. The social cliques would quickly become survivalist units. There would be a horrible fear that there’s no help or salvation when there’s nobody in the assistant principal’s office. The Tribe lasted five seasons so there’s plenty of development for how the kids are going to rebuild the world. Will they ever really rise above tribalism?

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The series was shot on video so it has a good lo-fi feel to the action. The audio is stereo. The accents aren’t too thick.

There are no bonus features.

The Tribe, Series One, Part One is an engrossing look at what would happen if all the adults vanished from the Earth. The answer is a scavenger landscape run by kids who would have to grow up fast as they make life a living hell for each other. Civilization will devolve into a junior high lunch room. However things might get better. The show is addictive.

Shout! Factory presents The Tribe, Series One, Part One. Starring:Beth Allen, Antonia Prebble, Daniel James and Michelle Ang. Boxset Contents: 26 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: March 13, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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