Discussion:
WAR OF THE WORLDS: THE SERIES: Overview and final thoughts (Spoilers)
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christopherl bennett
2020-01-29 20:25:44 UTC
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Well, I undertook this DVD rewatch with the expectation of revisiting a show
(or at least a season) that I'd somewhat enjoyed the first time around. But
it's revealed to me that my memories of the original show are somewhat rosier
than the reality. All in all, this hasn't been a very enjoyable revisit.
The writing was mostly weak and the production values bordered on the
amateurish. Even the thing I liked most, the chemistry among the main cast,
isn't as good as I remembered. At least, it took a while before the actors
seemed to settle into their roles and start giving decent performances. Some
of their early work is kind of embarrassing. And overall, the show made way
too little use of its own leads, often spending 10-20 percent of the episode
dealing with the alien plot and guest stars of the week before Team Blackwood
even showed up.

I think one reason I liked the _idea_ of this show was that, at least in
theory, it treated the original, unaltered movie as part of its continuity.
Most TV series based on movies change things about the events of the films to
set up the series - like the Starman series retconning the events of the film
to happen a decade or so earlier so the title character could have a teenage
son, or Men in Black: The Series ignoring K's retirement at the end of the
first film. So it's refreshing in those few cases where you can treat the
movie and the sequel series as a continuous whole. Sure, the series
introduces a lot of retcons about the aliens' abilities and origins, and
makes bizarre and implausible assumptions about the aftermath, but hardly any
of it contradicts what we were actually shown in the film, just
recontextualizes it. We weren't explicitly told in the film proper (just in
the prologue) that the aliens were from Mars; that was just a speculation
that was offered but never confirmed. We never saw the film's aliens possess
human bodies, but that didn't prove they couldn't. The two aliens we
glimpsed were much smaller and flimsier than the ones in the series, but they
could've been a different species or subspecies, perhaps some kind of helper
animal or genetically engineered scout. And the series incorporated actual
footage from the movie in its titles and flashbacks, brought back Ann
Robinson as her original character, recreated the war machines fairly
faithfully, and so on. I appreciated that regard for the original work, even
if the series' idea of what happened afterward was pretty lame.

Only a few episodes really amounted to much. The pilot was kind of okay, but
flawed by its premise. The reuse of the movie's war machines in the climax
was a high point, but marred by the fact that the aliens had no chance of
success, and it was more a matter of running out the countdown timer than any
real kind of suspense. "Eye for an Eye" was fun, though mainly for its
homages to the 1938 Orson Welles broadcast (and the fact that it was both set
on and aired on the actual 50th anniversary of that event was kind of cool).
There was a run of decent episodes from about #9-#13, but even they had weak
and silly moments. All in all, there are only two episodes I'd call
genuinely good, "The Prodigal Son" and "Vengeance is Mine." And there were
quite a few ranging from stupid to just atrociously bad. I really didn't
remember the show being this consistently lame. Did I just have different
standards back then, or was this a show I just tolerated despite its badness
because I liked the cast? I do remember not being very fond of the horror
elements and feeling the writing could use improvement, but I don't remember
thinking it was _this_ bad.

In any case, I definitely remember how awful the second season was, and I
have no intention of rewatching it. In an attempt to boost the show's
flagging ratings, Paramount brought in a new production staff led by Frank
Mancuso, Jr., who'd previously (and contemporaneously) produced Friday the
13th: The Series. His ideas for how to "fix" the series were bizarre.
Somehow he thought it would be more appealing if the fairly normal world of
the first season were replaced with a relentlessly dark, dismal dystopian
near-future in a state of perpetual decay. I gather his reasoning was that
the world should have been more devastated by the '53 invasion and this was
the aftermath, but that doesn't work in the context of the first season, and
just springing the changed world on us without explanation didn't work. I
tried to believe at the time that four years had passed between seasons and
the arrival of the new alien force at the start of the season was the one
Quinn had foreshadowed, and that the deterioration of the world was the
result of four more years of the aliens' evil schemes; but that didn't work
because Debi (who became a more prominent character in season 2) was only a
year older.

The worst change Mancuso made was killing off half the cast, and destroying
the chemistry that was the series' only real high point. And _which_ half he
killed off is telling. Both Paul Ironhorse and Norton Drake died in the
series premiere, and were replaced by a mercenary named John Kincaid, played
by future Highlander: The Series star Adrian Paul, who was just as dull on
this series as he would be on that one. Ironhorse was the most popular
character on the show, the breakout star, and yet Mancuso apparently thought
it would "improve" the series to kill him. (And the way it was done was just
painfully wrong. I cried when I saw it, but not in a good, cathartic way
like when Tasha Yar died on TNG - I was hurt and angry at how completely,
painfully wrong the story was in how it treated and disposed of the
character. Okay, they had Paul sacrifice himself to keep his evil clone from
killing Debi, but the way it was executed just felt so ugly and forced and
hollow and unfair to the character.) He never offered a clear reason for
this decision, as far as I recall (beyond claiming that he had no idea
Ironhorse was popular until after the deed had been done), but his excuse for
killing Norton was that the team was losing the Cottage and going on the run,
so it wouldn't be practical for a guy in a wheelchair to be on the team
without a steady home base to operate from. This was a blatant lie. The
team moved into a new permanent home base at the start of the second episode
of the season, barely any time at all after the Cottage was destroyed.
Norton could've functioned just as well in that environment as the Cottage,
with a few access ramps and computer upgrades put in.

So I think it's self-evident why the Native American and the black paraplegic
were the characters who got killed off, while both white leads were kept and
a new white lead was added. Because it's not just the racial diversity that
was lost. Harrison also lost all his eccentricities, becoming an entirely
bland character; essentially his only personality trait in the entire season
was that he grew a beard. Even the aliens lost their weirdness. The Mor-
taxians were replaced by a new faction of their species who called their
planet Mor-thrai and themselves the Morthren, and who worshipped a living
deity called the Immortal. Unlike the weird-looking, weird-sounding, weird-
dressing, body-snatching Mor-taxians, the Morthren transmogrified themselves
to look permanently human - all of them white, as far as I recall - and spoke
entirely in English. (The leader Malzor was played by Denis Forest, last
seen in "Vengeance is Mine," and his second-in-command Mana was played by the
lovely Catherine Disher, who would later become one of the numerous WotW
veterans to star in the '90s X-Men animated series, where she voiced Jean
Grey - and who reportedly hated her time on WotW and refuses to talk about it
to this day.) So essentially everything about the first season that didn't
conform to the majority, mainstream view, every trace of diversity or
eccentricity, got cut out or whitewashed, and we were left with a cast that
was utterly bland.

The first half-season was relentlessly dark and dismal and horrible, and it's
all a homogeneous blur to me; I seriously don't know why I even kept watching
for as long as I did. The second half got a little better with the addition
of Jim Trombetta as story editor (just when I was on the verge of giving up
altogether). There were a couple of halfway-decent episodes there. There
was one episode where they went back in time to shortly after the original
invasion, with new actors playing the young Clayton Forrester and Sylvia as
Harrison's adoptive parents, which was the first time in the entire season
that it felt like it was really a continuation of War of the Worlds in any
way. Also it was just a relief to see actual daylight in the past scenes, as
opposed to the perpetual polluted gloom of the second season's present day.
However, the past scenes were in black and white, which was silly because the
movie was in Technicolor. But there was one episode I really liked, which
was mainly about the team and their allies trying to arrange to give Debi a
happy birthday in the middle of this dismal, horrible world, and was rather
sweet and optimistic.

But the series finale squandered any goodwill those episodes earned. For
whatever bizarre reason, after a whole season of unrelenting darkness and
ugliness, the writers decided to end the series with a tacked-on, forced
happy ending that required betraying prior continuity all the way back to the
original film. The finale introduced the enormous retcon that the Morthren
were mostly a benevolent, decent bunch, that the '53 invasion had actually
been a peaceful scouting party that fell into a misunderstanding with the
humans and fought them in self-defense, and that the evil Malzor misled the
other aliens and tricked them into launching the second wave of invasion as a
ploy to seize power. Thus, just killing Malzor was enough to let the two
species make peace and live together on Earth happily ever after. Which is
just. completely. insane. There is no way the pre-emptive, brutal, genocidal
alien invasion seen in the George Pal movie could possibly have been the
result of a misunderstanding or self-defense on the aliens' part - unless
they were somehow fatally allergic to white flags. The first interaction
between species in the film was the aliens heat-raying a trio of harmless
locals trying to make friends, and it just got worse from there. The War of
the Worlds was a systematic, planned ethnic cleansing on the aliens' part, an
aggressive war rather than a reactive one; the movie made that very clear.
And the first season of the series made it even more blatant that the aliens
were bent on conquest and genocide and were a cold, ruthless race by nature.
Even the second season, for all its retcons, did nothing to change this basic
characterization of all the aliens, not just Malzor, as ruthless and
genocidally inclined - at least until it became convenient for them to
rewrite the rules so they could force a completely incongruous happy ending.
It was a terrible way to end a terrible season of what I now must admit was a
pretty terrible series on the whole.

Oh, well. At least the original movie is still awesome.

-

So the question I've been pondering is, how would I have preferred to see
this series done, or how would I have approached it myself? First off, I
would've probably kept the cast. They started out weak, but they did have
pretty good chemistry for most of the season. I also would've incorporated a
recurring or regular role for Gene Barry as Clayton Forrester, and brought
back Sylvia in a more respectful way than reducing her to a babbling lunatic.

I definitely would've had the world remember the '53 invasion. Most of the
planet's major cities were destroyed, and the death toll probably exceeded
that of WWII. The invasion would've interrupted the postwar recovery, and
would've interrupted the Cold War as well. Whatever came afterward would've
been very different. Would the nations of Earth have put aside their
differences and banded together to guard against further invasions? Or would
the East and West have entered a new, more dangerous arms race as they
competed to reverse-engineer the aliens' weapons and technology? Either way,
we would've probably seen a more advanced civilization by 1988 - and perhaps
one with a significantly smaller population, so maybe its environment would
be healthier.

I'm not sure if I would've kept the body-snatching. I don't care for it, but
I can understand the necessity to represent the aliens with human performers.
It's less expensive than constant prosthetic/animatronic effects, it's more
dramatically effective to have human actors as the enemy, and since a weekly
series would need to be more about an ongoing infiltration than an overt
invasion, giving the enemy the ability to pass for human makes sense. Still,
there could've been another approach. When a nation lacks the strength to
invade another, sometimes they ally with local factions and use them to help
overthrow the establishment, like when Cortez fought alongside the Mexica
people who rebelled against Aztec rule, then stepped into the power vacuum
their revolution had created. Maybe in my version the aliens are mostly
offscreen and have coopted (or mind-controlled?) a human faction that serves
as the main antagonists, perhaps a megacorporation that's thrived from
reverse-engineering alien tech and whose power-mad leader is happy to betray
humanity in exchange for the aliens' promise that he'll rule the world.
Something like Tobias Vaughn in Doctor Who`s "The Invasion." (I'd love for
John Colicos to have played the role, but that would mean basically rehashing
Baltar. Maybe given time I could think of something a little more original.)
It might not play out too differently from what we got, with the aliens seen
occasionally in their base making plans while their agents in the field are
human. Although if the bad guys were genuinely human, it would've been
harder to justify the good guys killing them, so that might've changed the
dynamic of the action.

I might've tied it in a bit more closely to the original film by establishing
that the Mor-taxians had used Mars as a staging area. Maybe some had
remained there since '53, unable to move on Earth until they tackled the
immunity problem. But in that case, surely humanity would've worked harder
to develop spaceflight sooner and take the war to them. (I gather some
people have written sequels along those lines to the original H. G. Wells
novel.) Maybe there's been an uneasy cold war between Earth and Mars for
decades. This would be public knowledge, so you wouldn't have the same
secrecy cliche the actual series had.

I mean, seriously, keeping the whole thing secret was a terrible idea if you
think about it. If there's a group out there that's actively threatening the
safety of the public, and if they can be fairly easily identified by their
decay/radiation burns, their tendency to congregate in threes, and the weird
noises they use to communicate, then it would only make sense to alert law
enforcement and the general public to be on the lookout for them. Keeping it
all secret and relying on just four people to protect the whole world from
these genocidal beings was obscenely irresponsible. It gave the aliens far
too much freedom to act and do harm. The secrecy trope is something genre
shows use to pretend they're happening in the real world, but it's often a
bad idea in-universe.

And it's so much more interesting to create a world different from our own.
There could've been a wealth of stories to tell, 35 years into the global
recovery from an invasion that nearly destroyed the world. What a shame we
never got to see them.
Arthur Lipscomb
2020-02-01 07:28:36 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by christopherl bennett
Well, I undertook this DVD rewatch with the expectation of revisiting a show
(or at least a season) that I'd somewhat enjoyed the first time around. But
it's revealed to me that my memories of the original show are somewhat rosier
than the reality. All in all, this hasn't been a very enjoyable revisit.
I picked up the DVDs of the first season and started to make my way
through them about 15 years ago. I watched about a third or so of the
episodes before I stopped. It wasn't because I wasn't enjoying them. I
just had too much other stuff on my plate at the time and kept meaning
to finish where I left off but never did. Now so much time has gone by,
I'd have to start from the first episode again.
Post by christopherl bennett
The writing was mostly weak and the production values bordered on the
amateurish.
I was a kid when it originally aired. For the time, I thought the
production was fine. But I'm sure there's a lot of rose in my glasses
as I think back to it.

Even the thing I liked most, the chemistry among the main cast,
Post by christopherl bennett
isn't as good as I remembered. At least, it took a while before the actors
seemed to settle into their roles and start giving decent performances. Some
of their early work is kind of embarrassing. And overall, the show made way
too little use of its own leads, often spending 10-20 percent of the episode
dealing with the alien plot and guest stars of the week before Team Blackwood
even showed up.
I think one reason I liked the _idea_ of this show was that, at least in
theory, it treated the original, unaltered movie as part of its continuity.
Most TV series based on movies change things about the events of the films to
set up the series - like the Starman series retconning the events of the film
to happen a decade or so earlier so the title character could have a teenage
son, or Men in Black: The Series ignoring K's retirement at the end of the
first film. So it's refreshing in those few cases where you can treat the
movie and the sequel series as a continuous whole. Sure, the series
introduces a lot of retcons about the aliens' abilities and origins, and
makes bizarre and implausible assumptions about the aftermath, but hardly any
of it contradicts what we were actually shown in the film, just
recontextualizes it. We weren't explicitly told in the film proper (just in
the prologue) that the aliens were from Mars; that was just a speculation
that was offered but never confirmed. We never saw the film's aliens possess
human bodies, but that didn't prove they couldn't. The two aliens we
glimpsed were much smaller and flimsier than the ones in the series, but they
could've been a different species or subspecies, perhaps some kind of helper
animal or genetically engineered scout. And the series incorporated actual
footage from the movie in its titles and flashbacks, brought back Ann
Robinson as her original character, recreated the war machines fairly
faithfully, and so on. I appreciated that regard for the original work, even
if the series' idea of what happened afterward was pretty lame.
Only a few episodes really amounted to much. The pilot was kind of okay, but
flawed by its premise. The reuse of the movie's war machines in the climax
was a high point, but marred by the fact that the aliens had no chance of
success, and it was more a matter of running out the countdown timer than any
real kind of suspense. "Eye for an Eye" was fun, though mainly for its
homages to the 1938 Orson Welles broadcast (and the fact that it was both set
on and aired on the actual 50th anniversary of that event was kind of cool).
There was a run of decent episodes from about #9-#13, but even they had weak
and silly moments. All in all, there are only two episodes I'd call
genuinely good, "The Prodigal Son" and "Vengeance is Mine." And there were
quite a few ranging from stupid to just atrociously bad. I really didn't
remember the show being this consistently lame. Did I just have different
standards back then, or was this a show I just tolerated despite its badness
because I liked the cast? I do remember not being very fond of the horror
elements and feeling the writing could use improvement, but I don't remember
thinking it was _this_ bad.
In any case, I definitely remember how awful the second season was, and I
have no intention of rewatching it.
I was 12 when the second season aired. I definitely noticed a shift in
quality that I didn't like. That being said, it was still a must watch
show for me as a kid. I picked up the season 2 DVDs when they were
finally released 5 years after the first season, but never got around to
watching them. Through the lens of nostalgia, I'd definitely like to
revisit both seasons. But I fear, they probably would suck pretty bad,
especially season 2. I guess it's best if I just remember them fondly.

In an attempt to boost the show's
Post by christopherl bennett
flagging ratings, Paramount brought in a new production staff led by Frank
Mancuso, Jr., who'd previously (and contemporaneously) produced Friday the
13th: The Series. His ideas for how to "fix" the series were bizarre.
Somehow he thought it would be more appealing if the fairly normal world of
the first season were replaced with a relentlessly dark, dismal dystopian
near-future in a state of perpetual decay.
Yeah, the dystopian future made for a pretty cool opening credits, but
the actual new set up made no sense.


I gather his reasoning was that
Post by christopherl bennett
the world should have been more devastated by the '53 invasion and this was
the aftermath, but that doesn't work in the context of the first season, and
just springing the changed world on us without explanation didn't work. I
tried to believe at the time that four years had passed between seasons and
the arrival of the new alien force at the start of the season was the one
Quinn had foreshadowed, and that the deterioration of the world was the
result of four more years of the aliens' evil schemes; but that didn't work
because Debi (who became a more prominent character in season 2) was only a
year older.
The worst change Mancuso made was killing off half the cast, and destroying
the chemistry that was the series' only real high point. And _which_ half he
killed off is telling. Both Paul Ironhorse and Norton Drake died in the
series premiere, and were replaced by a mercenary named John Kincaid, played
by future Highlander: The Series star Adrian Paul, who was just as dull on
this series as he would be on that one.
I have to strongly disagree with you on that one! I honestly can't say
I remember his portrayal one way or the other on WotW, but I loved him
on Highlander. And since I watched this show first, I associated him
with WotW before I associated him with Highlander.

Ironhorse was the most popular
Post by christopherl bennett
character on the show, the breakout star, and yet Mancuso apparently thought
it would "improve" the series to kill him. (And the way it was done was just
painfully wrong. I cried when I saw it, but not in a good, cathartic way
like when Tasha Yar died on TNG - I was hurt and angry at how completely,
painfully wrong the story was in how it treated and disposed of the
character. Okay, they had Paul sacrifice himself to keep his evil clone from
killing Debi, but the way it was executed just felt so ugly and forced and
hollow and unfair to the character.)
Yeah, that really gutted me when they killed them off. But I thought
the episode itself, was really good, and the way he sacrificed himself
to save the day was a heck of a way to go out. It was like wow, they
really raised the stakes on this show. And back then, main characters
just weren't killed off. At least not on the shows I was watching as a
kid. So to me, it was a huge deal and a sign that things just got real.
Then season 2 proper kicked off, and it was all down hill from there.

He never offered a clear reason for
Post by christopherl bennett
this decision, as far as I recall (beyond claiming that he had no idea
Ironhorse was popular until after the deed had been done), but his excuse for
killing Norton was that the team was losing the Cottage and going on the run,
so it wouldn't be practical for a guy in a wheelchair to be on the team
without a steady home base to operate from. This was a blatant lie. The
team moved into a new permanent home base at the start of the second episode
of the season, barely any time at all after the Cottage was destroyed.
Norton could've functioned just as well in that environment as the Cottage,
with a few access ramps and computer upgrades put in.
So I think it's self-evident why the Native American and the black paraplegic
were the characters who got killed off, while both white leads were kept and
a new white lead was added. Because it's not just the racial diversity that
was lost. Harrison also lost all his eccentricities, becoming an entirely
bland character;
I'm trying to think back, and maybe I'm remembering incorrectly, but my
recollection is his pacifist character started to carry and use a gun.
That was sort of a major character change.

essentially his only personality trait in the entire season
Post by christopherl bennett
was that he grew a beard. Even the aliens lost their weirdness. The Mor-
taxians were replaced by a new faction of their species who called their
planet Mor-thrai and themselves the Morthren, and who worshipped a living
deity called the Immortal. Unlike the weird-looking, weird-sounding, weird-
dressing, body-snatching Mor-taxians, the Morthren transmogrified themselves
to look permanently human - all of them white, as far as I recall - and spoke
entirely in English. (The leader Malzor was played by Denis Forest, last
seen in "Vengeance is Mine,"
He was also a regular guest star, appearing as different characters in
several episodes of Mancuso's Friday The 13th: The series. His was in
some of the most memorable episodes. It's a shame he died so young.

and his second-in-command Mana was played by the
Post by christopherl bennett
lovely Catherine Disher, who would later become one of the numerous WotW
veterans to star in the '90s X-Men animated series, where she voiced Jean
Grey - and who reportedly hated her time on WotW and refuses to talk about it
to this day.)
I had no idea of either of those two facts.

So essentially everything about the first season that didn't
Post by christopherl bennett
conform to the majority, mainstream view, every trace of diversity or
eccentricity, got cut out or whitewashed, and we were left with a cast that
was utterly bland.
The first half-season was relentlessly dark and dismal and horrible, and it's
all a homogeneous blur to me; I seriously don't know why I even kept watching
for as long as I did. The second half got a little better with the addition
of Jim Trombetta as story editor (just when I was on the verge of giving up
altogether). There were a couple of halfway-decent episodes there. There
was one episode where they went back in time to shortly after the original
invasion, with new actors playing the young Clayton Forrester and Sylvia as
Harrison's adoptive parents, which was the first time in the entire season
that it felt like it was really a continuation of War of the Worlds in any
way. Also it was just a relief to see actual daylight in the past scenes, as
opposed to the perpetual polluted gloom of the second season's present day.
However, the past scenes were in black and white, which was silly because the
movie was in Technicolor. But there was one episode I really liked, which
was mainly about the team and their allies trying to arrange to give Debi a
happy birthday in the middle of this dismal, horrible world, and was rather
sweet and optimistic.
But the series finale squandered any goodwill those episodes earned. For
whatever bizarre reason, after a whole season of unrelenting darkness and
ugliness, the writers decided to end the series with a tacked-on, forced
happy ending that required betraying prior continuity all the way back to the
original film. The finale introduced the enormous retcon that the Morthren
were mostly a benevolent, decent bunch, that the '53 invasion had actually
been a peaceful scouting party that fell into a misunderstanding with the
humans and fought them in self-defense, and that the evil Malzor misled the
other aliens and tricked them into launching the second wave of invasion as a
ploy to seize power. Thus, just killing Malzor was enough to let the two
species make peace and live together on Earth happily ever after. Which is
just. completely. insane. There is no way the pre-emptive, brutal, genocidal
alien invasion seen in the George Pal movie could possibly have been the
result of a misunderstanding or self-defense on the aliens' part - unless
they were somehow fatally allergic to white flags. The first interaction
between species in the film was the aliens heat-raying a trio of harmless
locals trying to make friends, and it just got worse from there. The War of
the Worlds was a systematic, planned ethnic cleansing on the aliens' part, an
aggressive war rather than a reactive one; the movie made that very clear.
And the first season of the series made it even more blatant that the aliens
were bent on conquest and genocide and were a cold, ruthless race by nature.
Even the second season, for all its retcons, did nothing to change this basic
characterization of all the aliens, not just Malzor, as ruthless and
genocidally inclined - at least until it became convenient for them to
rewrite the rules so they could force a completely incongruous happy ending.
It was a terrible way to end a terrible season of what I now must admit was a
pretty terrible series on the whole.
Oh, well. At least the original movie is still awesome.
True. I haven't watched it in a long time. Mainly because it's never
been released on blu-ray. Although I *just* read today or yesterday
that the Tom Cruise remake may be getting a 4K upgrade. Perhaps that
will remind someone to finally release the original on blu-ray, or if
one can dream, 4K.
Post by christopherl bennett
-
So the question I've been pondering is, how would I have preferred to see
this series done, or how would I have approached it myself? First off, I
would've probably kept the cast. They started out weak, but they did have
pretty good chemistry for most of the season. I also would've incorporated a
recurring or regular role for Gene Barry as Clayton Forrester, and brought
back Sylvia in a more respectful way than reducing her to a babbling lunatic.
I definitely would've had the world remember the '53 invasion. Most of the
planet's major cities were destroyed, and the death toll probably exceeded
that of WWII. The invasion would've interrupted the postwar recovery, and
would've interrupted the Cold War as well. Whatever came afterward would've
been very different. Would the nations of Earth have put aside their
differences and banded together to guard against further invasions? Or would
the East and West have entered a new, more dangerous arms race as they
competed to reverse-engineer the aliens' weapons and technology? Either way,
we would've probably seen a more advanced civilization by 1988 - and perhaps
one with a significantly smaller population, so maybe its environment would
be healthier.
I'm not sure if I would've kept the body-snatching. I don't care for it, but
I can understand the necessity to represent the aliens with human performers.
It's less expensive than constant prosthetic/animatronic effects, it's more
dramatically effective to have human actors as the enemy, and since a weekly
series would need to be more about an ongoing infiltration than an overt
invasion, giving the enemy the ability to pass for human makes sense. Still,
there could've been another approach. When a nation lacks the strength to
invade another, sometimes they ally with local factions and use them to help
overthrow the establishment, like when Cortez fought alongside the Mexica
people who rebelled against Aztec rule, then stepped into the power vacuum
their revolution had created. Maybe in my version the aliens are mostly
offscreen and have coopted (or mind-controlled?) a human faction that serves
as the main antagonists, perhaps a megacorporation that's thrived from
reverse-engineering alien tech and whose power-mad leader is happy to betray
humanity in exchange for the aliens' promise that he'll rule the world.
Something like Tobias Vaughn in Doctor Who`s "The Invasion."
Wasn't there a similar plot point on the old "V" TV series with Lane
Smith's character?

(I'd love for
Post by christopherl bennett
John Colicos to have played the role, but that would mean basically rehashing
Baltar. Maybe given time I could think of something a little more original.)
It might not play out too differently from what we got, with the aliens seen
occasionally in their base making plans while their agents in the field are
human. Although if the bad guys were genuinely human, it would've been
harder to justify the good guys killing them, so that might've changed the
dynamic of the action.
I might've tied it in a bit more closely to the original film by establishing
that the Mor-taxians had used Mars as a staging area. Maybe some had
remained there since '53, unable to move on Earth until they tackled the
immunity problem. But in that case, surely humanity would've worked harder
to develop spaceflight sooner and take the war to them. (I gather some
people have written sequels along those lines to the original H. G. Wells
novel.) Maybe there's been an uneasy cold war between Earth and Mars for
decades. This would be public knowledge, so you wouldn't have the same
secrecy cliche the actual series had.
I mean, seriously, keeping the whole thing secret was a terrible idea if you
think about it. If there's a group out there that's actively threatening the
safety of the public, and if they can be fairly easily identified by their
decay/radiation burns, their tendency to congregate in threes, and the weird
noises they use to communicate, then it would only make sense to alert law
enforcement and the general public to be on the lookout for them. Keeping it
all secret and relying on just four people to protect the whole world from
these genocidal beings was obscenely irresponsible.
That's 80s TV for you. And when you're 11 or 12 years old, it makes
perfect sense.

It gave the aliens far
Post by christopherl bennett
too much freedom to act and do harm. The secrecy trope is something genre
shows use to pretend they're happening in the real world, but it's often a
bad idea in-universe.
And it's so much more interesting to create a world different from our own.
There could've been a wealth of stories to tell, 35 years into the global
recovery from an invasion that nearly destroyed the world. What a shame we
never got to see them.
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