War of the Worlds (BBC TV Series)

Toby Frost

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It's worth noting that Wells explicitly compared the Martian attack to the conquest of Tasmania in the original text. Nothing has been added there for a modern audience.

I'm hoping that the flash-forwards scenes (which I've got to admit, I don't really like that much) are going to explain the rather weak ending of the book. I think this is one of the biggest challenges of adapting the novel: it works fine for the Martians to just drop dead in the original novel, but in a visual format it's rather disappointing. Alan Moore's version did this rather well, with the truth being hidden by the authorities, and I think we might be going down that route here, in a slightly different manner.

Of course, if the setting is Edwardian, the opportunity for the greatest franchise crossover ever has appeared, as the Secret Service calls upon the Banks children to write another Letter of Summoning...
 

Stephen Palmer

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I remain baffled by the reception to this series.
Last night's episode kept me hooked.
Criticisms of one scene about British colonialism are imo way off the mark. It was a brilliantly acted and totally appropriate scene. (This country is still full of idiots who refuse to accept what Britain has done in colonial times.)
The horror was horrifying and the acting uniformly great.
Unlike a lot of people, I thought the sense of hopeless, filthy, grim despair was really well evoked - the post invasion nightmare.
Perhaps a re-watch will convince a few that this was well written, visually great and brilliantly acted.
 

svalbard

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To say it was brilliantly acted, well written and visually great is a bit of a stretch. Whilst it was not terrible it was middle of the road, mediocre and not very memorable.

If I was to point to one main criticism it would be the pacing of the series. I found it disjointed throughout the 3 episodes. Although the apocalyptic vision of post war Britain was well done.

Rafe Spall is one of my favourite actors and I though he was ill served by a poor script and direction.
 

Toby Frost

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I have to say that I found the last episode disappointing. It lacked tension and pacing, and the monologue at the end felt unnecessary. There were too many unnecessary changes. Why remove the curate and the artilleryman, or their equivalents? That's perfectly decent material. It's not just fun spectacle like the Thunder Child episode, but goes deep into Wells' arguments. If the adaptation is to cover Wells' anti-imperialism and his interest in science, why not cover his anti-religious argument too? While I suspect that the budget was too low to do the Martians justice, I just don't see why they jettisoned what would have been cheap and effective scenes.

As I suspected, the divorce subplot came to nothing once the Martians showed up.

(Now I think about it, two references could have been made to the curate's arguments, but neither time very well. In the second episode, Amy sarcastically asks whether the Martians are the wages of her "sin" with George - obviously they aren't. In the third episode, George wonders if the Martians are a just punishment for the Empire. Again, not for those people, they're not, because they have no say in it. That's perilously close to saying that it's ok to blow up people from X because the government of X is bad. But then, George is feverish, so I suppose his rhetorical skills might be rather weak at that point!)
 
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Abernovo

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I have to agree with Stephen. I really liked it. The first episode was a little bemusing for me. The way it had been advertised, I thought it would be a faithful adaptation. It was certainly faithful to the tone, and general ethos of the book. By the second episode, I just watched it as if these were the events being experienced by contemporaries of the unnamed narrator of the novel. Once I did, that, it gelled for me.

Okay, so they lost some of the characters, as Toby points out, which I think would have made it a richer series; and I was not overly taken by the Martians. They also made the lead character to have similarities to HG Wells, himself, having left a marriage, and living with the woman he was intending to marry -- which I think would have added more to the social commentary (something Wells specialised in) if it had been a longer series*.

All in all, I think it was a solid performance. One not without flaws, but the closest to the novel so far.

*If we can get the next version with a screenplay by Sarah Waters and Andrew Davies, and sci-fi administration from Jo Zebedee, we'd have a blockbuster. ;)
 

Toby Frost

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Ah, I didn't realise that was a reference to Wells' own life. That said, I'm not sure what it really adds. It could have been a brilliant and exciting spectacle and a full exploration of the ideas that Wells raises, and at the end of the day I think it did both fairly well.
 

CupofJoe

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Well, that's three hours of my life I won't get back.
I didn't think anything could make me like Tom Cruise's WotW, but this has done it. And it makes the 1950s George Pal look even better than it did.
I can't really think of a good note in the show. The special effects weren't special. The pacing was all over the place. The Flash-forwards ruined any tension there might have been. The plotting felt muddled. We didn't even get HMS Thunder Child...
I know it said "Based on..." they should have added a "very loosely" at the beginning.
My major regret is that this may have stopped us getting a closer adaptation for ten years or more. I think there is a great film/TV show to be made of the HG Wells story, I just don't think this is it.
 
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