The Tribe: Series One, Part Two

The Tribe: Series One, Part Two
Despite having an aesthetic and artistic complexity not entirely dissimilar to The Littlest Hobo or Train 48, Kiwi teen soap opera The Tribe managed to run for five seasons (with 52 episodes per) and maintain a rabid fan base up until its eventual cancellation, airing in over 40 countries. The premise (wherein an unknown virus has killed off all adults, leaving the children of the world to fend for themselves) has promise, noting the inherent anarchic nature of removing structure, knowledge, reason and adult responsibility. But the product isn't something to contemplate as a sci-fi allegory, so much as it takes a Degrassi Junior High dynamic and thrusts it into a post-apocalyptic world. Since this box set focuses on the second half of the first series, the inherent structure of this universe already exists, with the series focusing on a group of teens referred to as "the Mall Rats" (they live in a mall) struggling to find food and water while avoiding other tribes and endlessly bitching and gossiping at, and with, each other. The acting is undeniably atrocious, much like the dialogue and production values, but the observation that teens don't have the emotional intelligence to consider the needs of others is quite astute, driving the implicit conflict of this entire season. Eventually they learn to take on individual responsibilities, but solipsism is an overwhelming impediment throughout, as everyone puts him or herself first. More superficially, while two characters spend multiple episodes developing an ersatz wind turbine, others deal with more amusing teen issues like bulimia, love triangles, infidelity and even postnatal depression. It's all exceedingly transparent and handled with the subtlety of a jackhammer, but the twee melodrama is likely what kept the core audience coming back for more twice a week. Eventually the series deals with the looming virus (they have to become adults eventually) and the search for an antidote, but this topic is more of a season finale cliff-hanger than something that drives the initial theme of learning to live together without a forced structure. No supplements are included with the DVD, which shouldn't surprise anyone since this is a 13-year-old soap opera from New Zealand. (Shout! Factory)