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DVD Review

DVD cover

War of the Worlds
The Complete First Season


Starring: Jared Martin, Lynda Mason Green, Philip Akin and Richard Chaves
Revelation Films
RRP: £39.99
Certificate: PG
Available 30 April 2012

When the Martians first invaded the Earth they were defeated by the smallest of the planet's inhabitants, microbial infections. Believing that they were all dead the authorities packed the bodies away in drums and hounded anyone who suggested that the fight might not be over. Thirty-five years later and the government have persuaded the population that the invasion never happened. Dr. Harrison Blackwood, whose parents died in the first wave, sees the immediate danger when the People's Liberation Party attacks an army base, disturbing the drums within which the Martians are encased...

The War of the Worlds (1988) was a direct sequel to Well’s original story, or more truly, from George Pal’s 1953 film, shots of which appear in the show’s title sequence and drew much of it mythology from this as well as Orsen Wells’s radio program. The show was created by Greg Strangis and ran for two seasons, a total of forty-three episodes. Each episode was designed to run in an hour slot, with adverts, so divested of these each runs for around forty-five minutes.

Season One has finally been release onto DVD, with the twenty-four episodes spread across six discs. Sad to say that the only extras on the whole set are episode synopses.

Without the budget to show a world invasion, the series concentrated on a small group of liberated Mor-Taxians. It turns out the little buggers were not from Mars at all. To counteract this new incursion the Blackwood Group is formed, a collection of specialists who do their best to fight the aliens, mostly unsuccessfully.

Logic aside, like why doesn’t the government throw all its resources against the aliens and given the size of the planet the remaining invading force is woefully undermanned, the show not only tried to provide a weekly action adventure, but also, at times, dipped into ecological and other messages. The Mor-Taxians hate humans because of what they have done to the planet. Our lack of good stewardship reduces us, in their eyes, down to the level of parasites, well worth eradicating.

The first season of the show gained impressive numbers of viewers and is generally held to be the best one. By the second season many of the popular characters were killed off and the storyline shifted further into the future with stories which made nonsense of the first season.

The man who would save the world was played by Jared Martin, who had previously appeared in Westworld (1973), The Fantastic Journey (1977), Dallas (1979-1991) as well as popping up in other individual television episodes. He is a personable hero, who takes many visual motifs and mannerism from Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry), the main protagonist of the 1953 film version. The ensemble cast included Lynda Mason Green (Dr. Suzanne McCullough), Philip Akin (Norton Drake), Adrian Paul (Lt. Col. Paul Ironhorse) and even Ann Robinson as Sylvia Van Buren, who appeared in the same role in the 1953 film.

As well as the regular cast, the show scored high for ‘wasn’t that bloke/woman in’ guest appearances, although the most recognisable actor is John Colicos (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica)

Time has not been kind to the show's print which is very soft. Little effort appears to have been expended in cleaning up the print.

Overall, the season has both its ups and downs. On the up side the show does try to take an intelligent look at its characters and situations, though this is not helped by the paltry budget and acting which could be sometimes indifferent, and at worst risible. The uneven quality of the show meant that about a third of the stories are really good, a third indifferent and the remainder best not watched. That said the show had millions of fans and it’s worth catching up if you missed this the first time around.


Charles Packer

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