War of the Worlds (TV Series 1988–1990) Poster

(1988–1990)

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The beginning of modern Sci-Fi TV
Agent108 August 2002
Before the X-Files, before Millenium, Space Above and Beyond, before Nowhere Man and all of the other strange and paranoid filled shows on television, there was War of the Worlds. Set in modern times, this series employed so many disturbing images and stories, it genuinely gave me creeps at night. While the show bombed on many levels with viewers, I only remember it for being something different, out of the ordinary. While young kids were watching cartoons, I tried watching this show as often as possible, considering my parents cared little for it. Then, when it went into syndication, I watched it as often as I could. If you could ever find tapes for this series, and you like odd and unusual programming, then you will like this series.
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10/10
A classic example in how to screw up a great series
David Edward Martin8 December 2001
The first series of WAR OF THE WORLDS is great television and great TV SF-- rivetting, exciting, thought-provoking, well-acted, and well-written. Every week it was a delight to watch and worth talking about in the following week with other TV SF fans. And as I recall, it was more interesting that that other big name SF show at the time.... something about next generations, I think......

Then for reasons that will forever escape rationality, the producers were switched and the series radically, FATALLY revamped into a cyber-punk show. The off-hand killing of two main characters, the addition of an unneeded extra male lead, and a drastic switch in the series format from covert action to urban guerilla warfare..... I stopped watching it after a couple months. Most of its fans did too.

The first season is fascinating in retrospect for being one of the roots of X-FILES. But like EERIE INDIANA, it was just a little too ahead of its time. If the show had come along, say, three years later (and NOT had those idiots take over the series in Year Two), who knows what might have happened?
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Fantastic TV series!
keith782123 April 2000
"War of the Worlds: The Series" continues the storyline from the original movie while giving it a new twist, with the Martians, or the "alien invaders" as they are called now, taking over people's bodies to prevent them from succumbing to the bacteria that "killed" them in the original movie. Taking place 35 years after they destroyed Los Angeles and almost took over the world, they are revived after a botched attack at a nuclear waste dump, where their remains were sealed in metal barrels. They awaken, take over the bodies of the terrorists and plan out their second invasion of the world. The series was a bit graphic, but the storylines of the episodes were terrific. The new cast also shines, as a small group willing to fight the aliens before it's too late. Also seen were their war machines with the heat rays, and Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson), the heroine of the original who fell in love with Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry's character). All in all, this series is great and I wish it was back on TV! Sci-fi at it's best!
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10/10
A great series that could be revived at any time.
duran00730 June 2002
'War Of The Worlds' was an excellent show. There were so many dark moments in the first season, and many endings had hollow victories. The cast was great. Jared Martin gave his all, as did Phil Akin and Richard Chaves. What was unfair was the fact that many things that were building towards the second season NEVER took place, thanks to the fatal change in direction. I personally liked the original aliens compared to the Morthren, but they (the Morthren) had some cool weapons. The first episode of the second season should have been the last episode period, unless the producers could find a way to bring more reinforcements from the original aliens homeworld. That would have been a REAL 'War of the Worlds', as the humans could have faced both sets of warring aliens in a battle to save Earth. I'd like to believe that the series could be revived, since one of the early episodes dealt with a list of 10,000 aliens held somewhere that disappeared. It was never revealed if the aliens had it, so it's possible Quinn (an alien from the 1953 invasion trapped in a disease-free human body) could have taken this list, and gone about his own agenda to take over Earth. It's out there, Paramount, so revive the series that the fans want... the Original 'War of the Worlds'.
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A brilliant first season only to be marred by idiot studio execs in season 2...
mistermime30 June 2003
The first season of War of the Worlds was groundbreaking and refreshingly innovative. In many ways, it was the predecessor of shows like "The X-Files". The first season was very much like a game of chess between the Blackwood Project and the aliens- led the triumvirate Advocacy (featuring the underrated actress, Ilse Von Glatz- who was chilling as an Advocate). Towards the end of the season, there was a mythology carefully being built with the introductions of new characters such as the renegade alien/human hybrid- Quinn and the Qar'To Synth, Katara. Also, the show was blessed with creative writing, excellent direction- and casting Ann Robinson as Sylvia Van Buren was a nice coup for the producers.

However, Paramount had plans to assassinate the show and installed Frank Mancuso Jr. as the new executive producer. He obliterated the first season storyline, continuity, most of the characters and killed the show in the process. But to many fans, the only real season of WOTW was 1988-1989.
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A War of Give and Take
Scott Miller20 May 2002
The best thing about this series was that, in the first half of the first season, you never knew who was going to win the battles. An example plot would have the aliens trying to acquire a list of the locations of their canned (literally) comrades. The humans try to stop them but fail.

That's what I loved about the series: EVERYTHING was unexpected. Then late in the first season, you started having plots that were too obvious. (On TV in the 80s, there was no way aliens were going to detonate a nuclear bomb in the middle of the USA--especially with our heroes in the same city!) From that point on, the show settled for standard science fiction. It was still interesting, but it had lost its spark and never got it back.
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This was and still is my favorite television series.
Gelene Beverly10 March 2005
War of the Worlds season one was my favorite television series. I was only nine when it came out, but I was amazed from the first episode. The characters were complex and very different from each other. The storyline kept me hooked wondering just who would win in the next episode. I was, however, very disappointed with season two. I couldn't really follow what had happened to make the series so different from the first and it was very dark. As for the first season, I haven't found a series on television since that has topped it. I remember it so well after 16 years and really want to see it again. I truly hope that it will be released on DVD someday. If you ever get the chance to see it, I know you'll really enjoy it.
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Forgotten favourite.
Sir Didymus18 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
*slight spoiler alert*

This humble tv series from the late 1980s is almost forgotten by the majority, especially in the UK where it was broadcast in a post-midnight slot.

But it does have a lot going for it. The leads in the first season are all likeable, the stories were ahead of their time in terms of television science fiction and it's later obsession with paranoia, as perfected by 'The X Files'. The continuation of the 1950s movie was a great benefit, as it provided the series with a backbone from day one. It's creepy aliens and their catchphrase "To Life Immortal", and the somewhat grisly scenes in which they murder humans or die and break down into a strange acidic goo are certainly not family viewing material, but they are a precursor *to* shows like "The X Files" which occasionally relied on the new-found ability to provide grisly shocks without falling foul of the censors.

However, the second season was an utter mess. Two of the leads were killed in the first episode, the original aliens also bit the dust, and some ridiculous lower-budget "Mad Max" look took over as new aliens with the ability to clone people, and that strange fellow Adrian Paul of "Highlander: The Series" fame appeared on the scene. I gave up before the show finished its late-night runs, no longer interested in the show which once showed great promise.

The first season was, and still remains a classic slice of American television, and if you can get hold of any episodes, its worth a look.
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Great premise, cut short too early
mercuryix27 December 2000
The idea of bringing back the aliens from War of the Worlds is simply great, especially for those who wonder "what if the aliens had attacked us with our technology today, instead of back in the '50s?" The answer is clear; they would STILL kick ass! The heat rays they used are just as unbeatable in the 80s as they were in the 50s, and the idea of the aliens going into hibernation to survive rather than just dying was a great plot device to bring them into the present. The spaceships, sound effects and sfx are lovingly recreated in the series. The show reminds me of Star Trek, in one respect only - both shows had great premise, but given too little backing by the studios that created them. Networks will never learn - if you're going to do a risky new sci-fi series, either back it all the way or don't bother. If the series had been given full support with and heavy advertising, and maintained the intelligence of the stories, this might have gone on for years. As it is, it's definitely worth checking out on the sci-fi channel. Now if there is ever a War of the Worlds/Star Trek crossover, that would definitely be worth seeing...(no matter how silly the idea is.)

Eight stars for effort on this series.
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A rare gem of a series
Robert B. Marks24 August 1999
This is one of those series that I caught in second run, and had to see all of. Rather than being cliched and boring, War of the Worlds managed to be trendy and dark, attempting to deal with mature themes and violence in an intelligent fashion all too rare today.

Perhaps the best season was the second, when the war becomes a drawn-out war of attrition, culminating in one of the most thought-provoking finales I have seen this side of Babylon 5. It is currently airing on Space in Canada, and is definitely worth seeing if you can.
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Painfully awesome
alex_i-09 October 2011
First of all. Season 1: 10/10 Season 2: 1/10

This must be the creepiest sci-fi horror show/movie ever. I was 10 years old when I first saw it. Now, 21 years later, I still have nightmares.

The reason may be the complete lack of human emotions within the aliens. No empathy whatsoever for human life. The aliens are portrayed as total different from us - not "almost human/American" like in other sci-fi shows. These ones cannot be reasoned with. You cannot negotiate with them.

Three episodes moved me deeply.

1.Quinn. "no Harrison...you are the alien".

2.The abducted woman. The end scene when Harrison just being to late to rescue her. It gave me an incredible parallel with my own life. Being to late to save the most loved one person in my life.

3.The strong drug. The scene with humans collecting drugs from the floor. Acting as animals.

The only flaw with the show is its low budget. Imagine what it could have been with a modern show's budget.

And one more thing. WOW is no predecessor to "X-files". X-files is a cheesy, unrealistic show with vampires, werewolves, and baseball-loving aliens. YES! Baseball-loving aliens. Give me a break...

WOW is the real deal. With real human emotions. With real characters. With a real nightmare-plot. Great job! GREAT!
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Who are the aliens?
Jeffrey Young3 December 2005
Very little is known of the alien invaders from Mortax and the series did not intend to explain much of them. In the original, "War of the Worlds", the aliens originate from Mars. Since Mars is a dead planet and presumably any presence of an indigenous civilization would be noticed from earth, it made sense to change the origin of the aliens to a faraway solar system.

It was a shame that the series did not capitalize on the episode, "Angel of Death". The unexpected, ironic, and somewhat twisted humorous ending would have made for a much more interesting second season had the original plot line been followed. As it was, some viewers, including myself, disliked the second season's post-apocalyptic setting and stopped watching the series.

I present here my own speculative analysis of the aliens from Mortax, for anyone curious enough to read on.

Most likely the inhabitants of Mortax originated from a tightly controlled, rigid, caste-driven society. The upper caste was smug in its superiority over the lower caste classes, even those presumably of a high class, such as scientists. The ruling caste or upper classes which ruled Mortax probably were probably a hereditary class which may or may not have included a military class as a subsidiary upper caste.

At some point in its history, the lower caste classes of Mortax gained political power enough not to overthrow the current ruling caste but enough to gain comparable political parity and most importantly, respect.

As a result of this paradigm shift in Mortax civilization, the upper ruling class now had to address the lower classes with respect. They now called the lower classes, 'comrades'. The lower classes could now address their heretofore upper caste rulers as, 'advocates', not, sir, ma'am, majesty, excellency, highness, lord, mistress, or any other such title conferring superiority over the claimant and inferiority over the one saying it. But it is very clear from the comments of the often frustrated Advocate triumvirate that the bigotry of the upper castes over the lower castes is still very much alive. But now it is politically incorrect to say so in front of them.

Mortax civilization was now unified and moreover, unified in its new, overriding goal, the salvation of its race, civilization, and culture. Unfortunately, the smug racial superiority and bigotry of the upper caste were now subsumed by all of Mortax society. The new inferior class fit only for extinction were the humans of earth. The invasion of earth is an invasion to humans. For Mortaxians, it is a 'colonisation' of a habitable planet regrettably infested with inferior biological sentients called humans whose existence is expendable. The invasion is a fight to the death for all of humanity.
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One of the better sci-fi series
jboehme23823 October 2003
I was in my thirties when this came out. I really enjoyed it. It had a good cast. Richard Chavez, as most of you will recognize, was in "Predator". There was a lot of action and good special effects for the time. I hope it will be put out on dvd so all can enjoy.
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Dr. Blackwood an inspiration!!
nash_traveler22 June 2005
I first started to watch the series when i was in Pakistan in 1989/90, i was like..13 years old I was so inspired by the plot the secrecy the commando actions the science and the character of Dr. Blackwood and Lt. Col Paul iron-horse that i took up Physics in university in London six years later, and also decided to join the army.. ... I used to get immerse in the story totally..and would see myself as Harrison Blackwood.. the credit to my major in physics goes to the war of worlds series.. I will now try to search ebay trying get hold of a VHS or DVD or something.. To my mind this is an evidence on how a strong influence TV has on a childs mind
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6/10
Very much a mixed bag!
x1nd0lent26 April 2008
I was often surprised how the War of the Worlds series could often reach such level of perfect tongue-in-cheek black humor and satire, and also fall prey to utterly clichéd stories and poorly thought out escapades! Some suspension of disbelief was easy in that this was a small-budgeted show which was about a global invasion by aliens. The creators seemed to enjoy the quirky dialog and dark atmosphere without taking the whole premise too seriously. Drs Blackwood (especially) and McCullough did well as unusually nerdy heroic leads... although Drake and Ironhorse were saddled with far more corny lines and stereotypical characters. The writing and acting were wildly uneven. But fortunately this happened to swing the quality between entertainingly good and entertainingly bad, only once in a while pausing in boring mediocrity. Of course one of the biggest logical flaws is that the US government admits to three scientists that they do believe the world is being threatened by invasion from a superior alien threat, but that the only resources they can spare to help stop it are in the form of one annoying Army colonel! Of course this is absurd, but due to the small scale of the series they were acting more as investigators.

In my opinion, the best things about this series were the eccentric Dr Blackwood, the interesting dialog, and the alien threat. The aliens allowed the the creators of the show to indulge in some quite surreal and at times macabre set pieces. They were stranded from the famous invasion of the original story and 1953 movie. The invasion failed and these aliens were written off for dead. Now invading "on the cheap", they infiltrate human bodies and try to amass the technological means to contact the rest of their people in space to get reinforcements, which would effectively resume the invasion. Meanwhile, they try to learn about the humans while recovering hibernating aliens and tech. Kind of like a cross between terrorist cells and bodysnatchers. This was a clever way to build the story up from modest resources and present a threat of invasion which was gradual, but with high stakes. The aliens were not used as allegory for communists, yuppies, etc - their motives were, as I recall, not easily understood. The effects of watching "assimilated" humans constructing Rube Goldberg gadgets out of garbage while babbling to each other with scrambled, pitch- shifted speech is hilariously weird!

As has been remarked upon, the second season of the show is a huge departure from the first. Unlike the 1st season, which I have watched recently, it has been almost 20 years since I've seen these. They were worth watching, but in a different way. Everything fast-forwards to a near future where the aliens have all but taken over the Earth. Dr Blackwood has buckled down to a weary guerrilla resistance leader, his old team killed. The larger scale and darker tone of the second series were welcome, but since it was the product of a completely different creative team, there were many inconsistencies. Mostly in retconning of the aliens. Some of these ideas worked, others did not. It worked more like a sci-fi version of Vichy/ Maquis France in World War 2.

Not a great series, in many ways, but a worthwhile and entertaining effort.
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What. The. Hell.
crazyrabbits26 January 2005
You know, the first season of this show wasn't that bad. You had strong plots, good acting, and a good overall storyline.

Then the second season started.

What the hell was Frank Mancuso Jr. thinking when he made this series? It sucked! Here are some of the reasons why it sucked:

1) You killed off half the cast, including the strong military commander and the computer expert. They were actually the most interesting characters on the show!

2) What year is it? For one thing, it's never explained how much time has passed between the first and second seasons, and there's also the matter of where the woman who owned the house where lived in the manor went? She just disappeared.

3) The main characters now live in an underground pipe.

4) Even when the main character (Harrison) said he never used a gun, he just broke his own moral code and shot some guys in the second season premiere.

5) The plots just sucked. Period.

Bottom Line: Stick to the first season, and forget this season ever happened. You'll be better off.
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Great Series
Eric27 May 2003
I was young when i first saw this series. So young that I only remember bits and pieces. I was five or six when they killed off my fav character. Must say it was heroic though. I remember bits and pieces of season two. (weren't they based underground then?) Anyway it was a great series and i really hope a DVD does come out. It's worth watching if you can catch reruns. Later
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6/10
Went in a different direction than the movie.
Aaron137528 July 2009
The movie was very well done for its time and quite memorable. This show though, took a very different approach in how the aliens did things. More "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" than aliens in super ships that blast every thing to dust. This added a bit of a horror aspect to a movie that was mainly science fiction and action. This show basically has the bodies of the aliens reviving after a long slumber as the diseases we thought killed them simply put them into a hibernation type state. They are now back on the attack and use the bodies of others to move about the world so you never quite know who is one of the enemy and the people who make the show save a ton on the cost of make up and creature effects. In like the first episode though they did bring back the martian war machines briefly, but for the most part the show was very understated and not over the top in what it showed on the screen. Granted, a few more aliens actually shown might have been cooler, eh?
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The original "War Of The Worlds" T.V. pilot!
rabadabadu-19 October 2003
I worked at Paramount Studios as a film editor between 1969-1973 and had the priveledge to work directly with George Pal,(Producer of the original "War Of The Worlds" feature movie) along with Niel MacDonald (film editor)on a T.V. pilot presentation based on the movie. We used original "War Of The Worlds" feature footage, along with various artists original renderings(used for posters and promotions). Along with original "War Of The Worlds" matte shots. Using an animation camera to shoot pans and slow move-ins of the paintings along with original footage and sound track, George himself wrote and narrated over the edited material. Not one frame was actually shot for the presentation. we used existing material only. I believe, that the presentation was about 15-20 minutes long. It was done in 1971. The studio said it was a great Idea, but the cost would be prohibative, so they passed. What a shame!! At almost the same time the original "Star Trek" series was being done at Paramount.
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A gem, another example of TV moguls screwing up
jacksonc22 April 1999
This was a truly entertaining piece of science fiction. It was, along with Earth 2, one of the premier examples of the TV "suits" stopping a good thing. The writers killing of Chaves' character did not help anything, but at least it did last more than one season.
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A Vastly Overlooked And Under-appreciated Gem.....
burnt25 September 1998
This series, especially upon it's second season (Adrian Paul came aboard here), was incredibly ahead of it's time on several fronts. A great alien premise ( cloning, infiltration, etc.), cinematography ( lighting, atmosphere, creating "other" localities), and characters ( almost NO cliches, enough said), marked this show as awesomely full of potential. This potential was wasted by Paramount and the shows immediate Producers. There was not adequate promotion or even general support from these parties. There was a considerable backlash being dealt with, as the show's most popular character from its' first season was killed off in the first episode of its' second season. Perhaps this was a mistake. That character was Col. Paul Ironhorse, portrayed superbly by Richard Chavez. But beyond that, almost everything about the show has become uncredited textbook in regards to myriad series that have come in its' wake, including, dare I say, "Highlander". This is not so unusual, as both were shot completely or partially in Canada. The Sci/Fi Channel did make an attempt to air both existing seasons a few times, unfortunately, without much fanfare. I still miss it, and console myself with having taped half the second and last season. Maybe someday, these will all be released on video. Contact me with questions and/or comments. Special thanks to IMDb for granting me this forum. My words do fail me.....Peace....Bob
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10/10
Orson and H.G. Wells would be proud!
Syl13 October 2006
I loved this series when it was on the air in New Jersey. Back in the 1980s when syndicated or independent programming ruled television on the weekends, now it's all infomercials. Anyway, I loved Ann Robinson who reprised her film role as Sylvia Van Buren. She appeared to be the only person who knew how to deal with the aliens. My favorite moment is when her stepson visited her at the nursing home (it's too nice to be a sanitarium), the old guy approached him and said "It's not safe in here" and he replied "It's not safe out there." The show was really well-written with characters like Van Buren who provided a connection to the original program. I think Orson Welles and H.G. Wells would be proud of this show. It paved the way for shows like the X-Files. I only wished that they made more syndicated programs today.
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8/10
Aliens Gone Wild!
Aiwaz6926 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The 1953 "War of the Worlds" is one of my all time favorite movies, and the TV series that's inspired from it is one of my favorite shows of all times, too bad it was cut short for it had great potential. In my comment I will cover Season 1 & 2 separately and the DVD set.

Season 1: The series begins about 35 years after the movie where the aliens are resurrected by nuclear waste and set out to conquer the world. Only the Blackwood team, consisting of the free-thinking genius Harrison, the mother/scientist Susan, the tough soldier Ironhorse, and the sometimes funny wheelchair-bound Norton, must stop this from happening. While some of the acting is less than stellar(some of the acting from Harrison is over-dramatized, Drake's could have been better too along with several secondary persons, but Susan and Ironhorse acting was good) and some cheesy 80's culture make an unwanted appearance (some of the bad clothing and irritating music), the series was solid and exciting. By adding the viewpoint of the aliens it made for a more unique and interesting storytelling (some episodes are influenced by other movies like "Alien" "The Thing", and "It's Alive!") that were also well-written, though at times it did lag. All the characters are likable, even, ironically, the aliens themselves. I must note that the some violence is gory, almost R-rated, including melting bodies, eye-gorging, and limb-ripping, though I am hardly complaining on that issue. Like many fans I wished the 2nd Season continued on this pace, however...

Season 2: ***Spoiler begins*** Killing off Drake and Ironhorse was a huge mistake ***Spoiler ends*** Season 1 is practically discarded, with character's personalities altered, a new apocalyptic-"Blade Runner" setting, and even a drastically different alien invaders. The mythology and character set-up from Season 1 no longer exist in Season 2, leading to major conflicting storyline. This was a major complaint from fans, however, if you view it as a separate series, it's still very good. The aliens are giving more familiarity, the new dark world setting is interesting, and the story lines deal with some touchy issues like religion, ecological & urban decay, and the influence of music and movies on the brain. While Season 2 had some fresh ideas, it did bring the whole series on a radical altered path that turn many fans away.

On the DVD set: Season 1 has been released on DVD, which is great, though it could have been a better set. There are no extras and the picture quality is below DVD standards, though it is still very watchable and not as bad quality as some may have you believe. The missing arm animation, which irked many people, is easily forgotten. It's just great to see it out on DVD.

"War of the Worlds" the series was a fantastic short-lived show that may have helped paved way for others like "X-files". It's entertaining delight, so buy Season 1 on DVD as soon as you can!
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Had potential
gcapp-15 April 2005
I do think it would have been a bit more interesting if the aliens had to pay a price for taking over human bodies... losing a bit of their original genetic sequences each time and becoming slightly less than their original race.

I really didn't care for the second season at all. The technology was never consistent, one week they use video phones, the next week they use audio phones. Also, why the change from Mor-tax to Morthrai? And how did Blackwood's people learn the name "Mor-tax"? The original movie clearly linked the aliens with Mars. Now, they could have used that by indicating that Mars was used as an advance staging point. Perhaps the aliens hoped to use Mars and "Morta-form" it, but it was a losing battle, and the aliens who were settling Mars diverged from the original race, developing unique physical traits and a different political objective. They decided, in desperation, to use the resources allotted to them and invaded Earth, gutting the Mars colony to the point it was no longer viable in an all-or-nothing, win or die gambit to take Earth. They fall silent for 35 years, then are resurrected, see the possibility of finally succeeding, and signal the original home world. A year or so later, the Morthrai arrive, dismiss the incompetent Mor-tax for their bungling of the Mars project, and proceed with conquest of Earth, which does, they come to realize, seem like the only viable option.

Now, that's just my way of rationalizing what we saw in 1953 and in 1988 and 1989.

There was a Star Trek link in the series: in one episode, a boy is playing with STTNG action figures while his now-alien parents drive the car, and he makes a sign to appeal to a pair of nuns speeding by ("Nearer My God to Thee!").
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I'm just glad it came out at all on DVD.
shstrang986 November 2005
Since our society seldom sees any kind of sci-fi as "cool" I'm really amazed that this ever came out on DVD.

Yes the picture quality is lacking and I do wish the animated alien had grabbing the Earth segment was intact but overall I'm very pleased.

AS far as sound quality is concerned I was very pleased. The local TV station that played this series back in '88 wasn't stereo. For the first time I am able to hear the audio of the show like people in big markets (with stereo TV stations) were able to. Best of all, none of the usual audio artifacts (that result from overly high bit rate reduction; sounds like a low bit mp3) are present. I heard tape hiss, some splices and audio dropouts all of which aren't uncommon with analog audio production.

I would like to know the origin of the transfer material. Was the transfer done from original edited 35mm prints or from 1" videotape broadcast masters. If the editing and final production was mastered to tape, I bet that fully edited 35mm prints probably never existed.

If more seasons come you can be damned sure I'll buy them.
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