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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
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?
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.
"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!
'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'.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
*** This review may contain 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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