War Of The Worlds (an appraisal of the second episode of the BBC’s new 2019 series).

Please bear in mind that I’m writing down my thoughts and reactions as I watch this episode.

It’s very odd seeing the food being rationed out in the second episode, because something I share with HG Wells is we’re both Type One diabetics. At least he fully turned in his early 60s, because he would have had serious problems with weekly rations, let alone getting any insulin which was available back then.

George is obsessed with looking for Amy rather than Martian war machines, initially. Then he reaches an inhabited village and the military wants every man. The Martians don’t care, especially as they release clouds of nano-dust that kills (and terraforms Earth into Mars). Oh, they also have death rays. Under their television budget, we mostly see the results, instead of it actually happening. In many respects, the programme certainly deserves an award for special effects.

Make a note: on alien invasions, be a writer … our life expectancy seems to be geared towards luck and survival better than anyone else.

This episode is more about mood and devastation. I’m more amazed how Amy and Frederick (George’s brother), can be split up and still manage to find each other on a busy evacuation beach. Even more so that George can find Amy. Am I sounding cynical? Maybe more to do with their luck.

I’m not sure if I would call this a war. The humans have little chance and the Edwardian military might can’t stand up to the Martian aggression, although a couple of tripods collapse under a sustained ironclad bombardment.

The problem with middle episodes is that they’re often waiting for matters to come up to a conclusion. Here, much of the time, George and company seem to be sorry for themselves and act passively. From their perspective, they appear to be waiting for their fate.

All right, we all know what kills the Martians in the end – and this still has less to do with the book when it’s trying to make the characters relevant to today. As a separate entity, you will come away waiting for episode 3. I do wish at the end of the credits it was pointed out that Woking and London were not really destroyed. Mind you, would anyone see the difference?

GF Willmetts

24 November 2019

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