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If at first you don't succeed ... well, in this case, perhaps the SyFy Channel should have just given up. This followup to 2003's atrocious adaptation of Philip Jose Farmer's classic "Riverworld" stories isn't all that much of an improvement. It just doesn't follow the stories all that well, and that's a shame. Farmer's "Riverworld" stories, which eventually were edited and collected in several books, are some of the most fascinating sci-fi ever written. Basically, everyone who has ever lived and died on Earth wakes up on the banks of an endless river on an alien planet. Clearly, someone or something is controlling all of this, but Farmer takes his time in revealing the ultimate puppet master and the purpose f the experiment. As the years go by, we follow the adventures of dozens of these folks, both famous and not so famous, as they strive to make sense of their new home. An interesting twist: when someone dies on Riverworld, they are resurrected along a different stretch of the river. Knowledge of this allows certain drastic actions to be taken, but I will say no more. This new version of the saga appears to be a pilot for a TV series, and was shot in Canada with a no-name cast. It loosely follows Farmer's plot, more so than the 2003 TV movie, and the acting is better. But again, this is not truly Farmer's Riverworld. If only someone had the cojones to faithfully adapt the stories, that would make a heckuva movie. It would also require a decent budget, which this TV effort lacks. Think of the recent SyFy Channel adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "A Princess of Mars," and how awful that was for want of a decent script and budget. This is only slightly better than that, and that's not saying much. Until someone (like the guy behind "Firefly" and "Serenity") decides to do a big-budget, theatrical version of "Riverworld," you will do better to stick with the books.
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