Thursday, November 4, 2010

Remembering WotW: The Series

That linked itself to stored memories of another incarnation of the H.G. Wells classic novel, namely the short-lived TV series of the same name.
War of the Worlds the TV series began airing in the fall of 1988 (for whatever reason I remember it being 1987, but there we are.)  It was part of a wave of shot-on-video programming that came on in the late night syndicated slots, along with Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy's Nightmares and Friday the 13th: the Series.  Like those aforementioned shows, WotW jumped off from already established material and in a good way to my creative philosophy.

Both the Orson Welles, Grovers Mill incident and the 1953 George Pal film version of the book actually happened in continuity.  The virus that appears to kill the attacking Martians at the end of the movie really just places them into a sort of suspended animation.  Their bodies have been gathered up and stored in toxic waste drums in undisclosed secure locations.  Likewise, their machines have been sequestered in secure zones such as Area 51.  The rest of the world doesn't even believe the invasion ever happened, thanks to a widespread government cover-up and a nebulous process called "selective amnesia" (whatever the hell that is...besides a plot contrivance, I mean.)  

Given budgetary constraints, the show couldn't hope to attempt any storylines on the scale of the movie.  The writers and producers therefore copped out with one of the most well-worn of science fiction memes in existence: body snatchers.  That's right, folks.  The aliens could look like any of us.  Mostly because that saves money.
As the aliens awaken from their decades of slumber, then begin to formulate the means to beat the virus and then open the way for the rest of their brood to invade.  Standing in their way is a crack team of stock character humans who are sanctioned by the government: a brilliant scientist, his equally brilliant female companion, a by-the-book military man (named "Ironhorse" no less) who often spars with the liberal eggheads, and a paraplegic who is an absolute computer whiz.  Just watch the wacky hijinks take off from there.

I admit that I'm having a little bit of fun at the show's expense and unjustly so.  The series actually was rather entertaining and diverting...and I don't think that's such a bad thing.  They even added a few nice touches such as showing one of the actual Martian machine props from the 1953 movie and having Ann Robinson reprise her role as a now insane Sylvia Forrester (yes for those of you who don't know, MST3K did steal the name Clayton Forrester from Pal's movie.)  
Even more intriguing to me is the second season that I have not seen.  Apparently, an entire other alien race shows up and shellacs the first one.  That's not really a good thing for Earth, as these newcomers want to take us over every bit as much as their erstwhile enemies did.  What really made this season look interesting though, is that it is set in a dystopic, cyberpunk future that is "almost tomorrow" according to the show.  Clearly it was inspired by both Blade Runner and Max Headroom, but that's not a bad thing.  

Both seasons of this sci-fi show are now available on DVD.  Check them out.  Let me know what you think.  And keep an eye out for famous guest stars, like Patrick MacNee and singer Alannah Myles.

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  1. I can't believe there were shows based on those movies and that no one has resurrected those ideas yet.

  2. Give it time. As we've seen lately, everything comes back eventually.

  3. On Facebook, The New Wave Priest said: "I used to watch this every week, yet I now realize that I remember almost nothing about it."


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