British author William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies casts a very long shadow.
The book itself is an absolute masterpiece, a physical and philosophical adventure that puts a group of schoolboys on a desert island and tracks how quickly and horrifyingly they revert to abject savagery with no adults around. A classroom staple (which is funny when you think about it), it has spawned at least four film adaptations, and inspired countless homages in everything from The Simpsons to the recent sci-fi drama Voyagers. To that teetering pile we can now add the new eight-part German drama Wild Republic, which adds some interesting new modifications to Golding’s original model.
Our ensemble here is not a plane full of coddled private school kids but a bunch of juvenile delinquents on a last chance, eight-week wilderness rehabilitation course in the rugged German Alps.
Character and backstory are doled out in small but intriguing increments: there’s Kim (Emma Drogunova), who escaped the world of human trafficking by testifying against her criminal boyfriend; volatile Can (Aaron Altaras), always spoiling for a fight; creepy Justin (Béla Gabor Lenz), who has the affect of a budding Hannibal Lecter; addict Jessica (Camille Dombrowsky); anti-capitalist activist Ron (Merlin Rose), and more.
It’s a volatile mix of personalities and the odds of things going pear-shaped are extremely high – and that’s exactly what happens when one of the program staff members turns up dead.