Thursday, October 8, 2015

Creepy TV: War of the Worlds (1988)

35 years after George Pal's feature film adaptation of the HG Wells classic, Paramount brought back War of the Worlds as a weekly series. Series creator Greg Strangis made some changes, which only served to prove he was better off leaving well enough alone.

In the film, the aliens were clearly meant to be from Mars, as Wells had intended. Because interest in life on the "red planet" had waned by the late 80's, Strangis decided to change that, and relocated the aliens from the film to the ficticious planet of Mor-Trax. A terrorist attack eliminated the bacteria that was keeping the Mor-Traxians in suspended animation (as opposed to the bacteria killing the Martians in the movie), and the aliens rewarded them by taking over their forms. And so it went.

Jared Martin (ex-The Fantastic Journey) starred and provides the opening narration from season 1:

14 weeks into a season 2 that saw more changes, including producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. adding Worlds to his workload (he was also the showrunner for stablemate Friday the 13th: The Series), Paramount pulled the plug. In this writer's opinion, it just wasn't meant to be.

Rating: C-.


SaturdayMorningFan said...

I gave this show a shot when it first aired because I love the 1953 film, and I remember being very disappointed with it. I didn't like the way they cheaped out on the aliens by making them body-snatchers so they wouldn't need any costumes, prosthetics, or animatronics. Combine that with the ret-conning of the Martians' origins and the nullification of the virus that killed them, and there wasn't any reason at all to claim it was in any way connected to The War of the Worlds. I probably would have had a more favorable opinion of the show had it been touted as an original series instead of masquerading as a sequel series. I did however like the episode (or rather, the scene in that episode) where the "Martians" get their hands on a trio of their war machines. When the ships came on screen I got chills down my spine, and was quite impressed with the application of then-modern special effects techniques to the 1953 warships. I haven't seen this episode since it originally aired, so i don't know how well those effects would hold up today.

Interestingly, George Pal tried to get a War of the Worlds TV series made in the mid-1970s that would have been a direct sequel to his movie. His version also had the "Martians" hailing from another planet entirely and they were just using Mars as a staging area for the invasion. I could have accepted that explanation coming from George Pal much better than when it came from the more recent update's creators. There's a fascinating article about it here:
This article at Space:1970 about the AMT Interplanetary U.F.O. Mystery Ship model kit that appeared, inverted, in the proposed series has youTube links to a promo reel in the comments section, but I can't test if they're still active right now:

hobbyfan said...

Body snatchers in that they would infiltrate the host bodies. I would see the hands burst from the chest, a la "Alien". Talk about cheap.