Rewind: ‘War of the Worlds’ revisited

Posted Filed under

What was it about?

Not just a television series inspired on the HG Wells book (but only inspired by, mind, rather than actually based on – the loss of the word ‘The’ at the start of the title is more significant than you might think), but a direct sequel to the classic ’50s paranoia movie.

A militant liberation faction accidentally unleash the aliens from the Paramount Pictures movie, but, somewhat confusingly, its now revealed that they’re not actually from Mars at all, and are into wearing human bodies as disguises (a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

Who was in it?

The main character in this 1988-1990 Canadian series is a professor cum action adventurer who wears a battered leather jacket and a wide brimmed hat. Just in case they weren’t beating you over the head enough with their inspirations, the man’s name is ‘Harrison’. But, Indiana Jones he ain’t.

In fact, he’s Jared Martin, who had started out in genre fare like Westworld and The Fantastic Journey. However, War of the Worlds seems to have curtailed his career, meaning that he was last seen as Sue Ellen’s boyfriend in Dallas.

Best moment?

Depressingly, there’s not all that many. It aired only seven years before – to take an example – Buffy arrived, and the difference in style, verve and ambition is palpable. These days, we’ve been spoilt with snappy dialogue, sharp editing, and decent music. Back then, however, everyone seems to be a bit embarrassed by all things sci-fi.

However, despite the clunky narrative and sometimes slow pace, the creatures themselves are very well designed and are suitably creepy and gloopy. It’s true that, at the time, the show was very popular – enough to deliver a second season, but we might humbly suggest that there wasn’t a great deal else on offer at the time. It is curious that Season 2 jettisoned most of what fans found exciting in favour of something a lot more post-apocalyptic: in itself not such a bad storyline, but unsettling the narrative of what had gone before, including killing off fan favourites at the start of the season.

The future?

In its existing state, this is frankly unlikely. The cast have been largely absent from our screens since it aired, and the story itself doesn’t actually make much sense, not even when you squint quite hard (it’s supposed to be a sequel to a massively devastating alien invasion of the Earth, but nobody has any memory of it happening in the first place. There’s some dreck about people’s memory being altered, but it doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny).

However, the premise itself – the world of Paramount’s 1953-based War of the Worlds (as opposed to the original Wells’ one) – is quite sound, and there’s no reason why a new production team couldn’t bring new life to the old beasts, V-style.

> Buy the Season 1 boxset on Amazon.

> Order the Season 2 boxset on Amazon.

What are your memories of War of the Worlds? Let us know below…