War Of The Worlds: an appraisal of the third episode of the BBC’s 2019 new series (TV review).

These Martians are carnivorous, even if they do turn you into a soup to eat you. Even so, travelling from Mars to Earth for a snack, living off the remnants of mankind seems an odd way to go. You would think they would need more people alive than simply cutting them down. If they were turning Earth into a Mars environment, it was doomed to failure.

There is too many spoilers for this final episode to go into much detail, here. I wouldn’t recommend watching this series if you’re feeling really down, as you’ll feel even worse afterwards as this ends. It certainly moves even further from HG Wells’ book.

Considering that the remains of the planet is in the throes of a nuclear winter and several years have past, you have to wonder why the remains of mankind survived for at least 6 or 7 years without malnutrition wiping them out? No sunlight also means no vitamin D. No food supplies. No education. You’ll understand that when you watch; so how do any children learn anything?

There’s also no indication of what happened to the Martians. Did they succumb to terrestrial infections? We don’t know. This episode is all about character and nothing about events.

Don’t expect happiness. Even the small twist at the end doesn’t make sense. A fresh plant is no indication of food. With the depression this is creating, it could end up being belladonna.

GF Willmetts

01 December 2019


2 thoughts on “War Of The Worlds: an appraisal of the third episode of the BBC’s 2019 new series (TV review).

  • I have been perhaps somewhat reticent about this – partly because we saw it before the UK (but oddly, since it was first broadcast in Canada in the intended three parts, we saw a later NZ broadcast, which was recut into two 90 minute episodes… ) – and I expected a third part. On reflection it was obvious that there wasn’t anywhere to go.

    We liked it – certainly more than the Tom Cruise version and probably also the 1953 George Pal version. Part of the preference was that the original UK setting was retained, even if the time was shifted by a few years. We liked the fighting machines – a more organic form than the usual gleaming steel (even if that is referenced in the book) – and the Martians themselves providing a logical reason for the tripod arrangement. I also enjoyed the inclusion of the Essex scenes – parents used to live in Shoeburyness and I am familiar with Witham (former home of Dorothy L Sayers) as it is close to where I used to sail and had the nearest railway station to the river.

    I didn’t mind the changes – naming the narrator, the invented separation from his wife; once I worked out the time-shifting in the narrative that was ok, too. I have to agree that the logistics suffered a bit – the demise of the Martians was implied rather than explained; the miracle twist at the end was more deus ex machina than resolution.

    However the real strength was in the achievement of time passing. I always felt the novel was a trifle too pat – over and done almost in the blink of an eye (not quite the scant hour afforded by Orson Welles in the infamous radio broadcast but not too much longer!) – and also lacks real explanation, even if the ‘ending’ is left open with the threat of potential invasions in the future.

    In the spirit of the London bus (wait for ages and three come along at once) there have been two other (audio) dramatisations set in the proper time and place. And just in the last few weeks another television version – an 8 part French/Fox coproduction subtly retitled ‘War of the Worlds’ (though the French titles reinsert the definite article so it’s ‘La Guerre des Mondes’). This is a ‘reimagining’ of the original, set in contemporary Europe. I’ve not watched more than a few minutes but I believe that the invaders are not actually fom Mars…

    I’ll be interested in your views on that version if you get to see it.

    • Hello Julian
      There is always an assumption that whatever we see in our country is in the same format or edit as elsewhere. Some Americans swear blind that they see uncensored versions and yet there are many examples of that not being true with violence and such getting censored. Our cut tends to be the closest to the real thing. I’m just saying that in case there are other significant changes.
      With this current version, it might seem like they were using the Edwardian period but they were still applying modern day ethics.
      As to ‘‘La Guerre des Mondes’. I did look up availability on DVD but all French versions of ‘War Of The Worlds’ are called the same name with little to distinguish unless you look at the covers. I suspect if it does get shown in the UK it will be on a paid digital channel.


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