The War of the Worlds: Episode 1
November 18, 2019 12:27 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Woking, 1905. A Martian capsule lands on Earth. When George and Amy join the curious crowd to examine it, the unleashing terror turns their lives into a nightmare.

The BBC's period dramatisation of HG Wells' classic novel, as a three-part miniseries. Starring Eleanor Tomlinson as Amy, Rafe Spall as George and Robert Carlyle as Ogilvy.

The Guardian: Doom, dystopia and a dash of Downton. "This new adaptation of HG Wells’s classic space odyssey marries a thrilling tale of Martian-themed terror with period drama twists, for a solid Sunday night saga."

The Independent: A lavish adaptation let down by its need to be socially relevant. "The aliens have invaded yet again, but this time alongside themes of divorce, women's liberation and Edwardian politics. It doesn't quite mesh."

The Daily Telegraph (paywall): Small-scale Martians and women being woke in Woking. "But one thing that needs the big bucks thrown at it – the thing that would be quite pitiful without a giant pile of cash behind it – is an adaptation of HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Yet here is BBC One’s version, looking as if it was made on the budget of a supermarket advert. And not even a Christmas one."
posted by Major Clanger (5 comments total)
The BBC blurb sets this in 1905, but references to the Dogger Bank Incident place it in October 1904.

[Wikipedia] In 1891, [Herbert George] Wells married his cousin Isabel Mary Wells (1865–1931; from 1902 Isabel Mary Smith). The couple agreed to separate in 1894, when he had fallen in love with one of his students, Amy Catherine Robbins (1872–1927; later known as Jane), with whom he moved to Woking, Surrey in May 1895. They lived in a rented house, 'Lynton', (now No.141) Maybury Road in the town centre for just under 18 months...

Episode 1 seems to spend much of its time trying to decide whether it's an adaptation of Well's novel or a portrait of a thinly-disguised Wells himself. It felt as if it made little headway with the main plot, but looking at the original book this episode ends around about chapter 9 of 27, so it is roughly on track.

I'm really not sure about how the Horsell Common scene was played out. The image of the huge cylinder with its lid unscrewing, and the tentacled Martians emerging, has become so well-engrained that this version with the sphere that levitates, spins into - what, nanomachines of some sort? - and incinerates onlookers, feels almost anticlimactic. And where did the Fighting Machine come from?

The flash-forwards are confusing; is this a vision of what might come to pass, or a hint that events will not resolve as quickly or as fully as in the novel?
posted by Major Clanger at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2019

I quite enjoyed this, but nowhere near as much as I'd been hoping to. It was nice to see a finally production set in (roughly) the same time period and location of the book. The pacing seemed off though - it seemed to take ages to finally get going and even then there were several points where I thought it had ended, but then kept going with all those confusing flash-forwards. Also, no tentacles!

At least it was nice to see Woking being trashed (although it did look a lot nicer than it does nowadays, with or without Martians). and it did have one great advantage over the Tom Cruise version , in that it didn't feature Tom Cruise.
posted by Fuchsoid at 5:53 PM on November 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

As someone who grew up in Woking I too enjoyed this. If the poor Martians landed there today they'd have an ugly block of overpriced flats built on top of them before they knew what was happening.

That said, my home town is at least fairly proud of its status as being fictionally flattened by invading aliens.
posted by Major Clanger at 3:49 AM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Any word if this will make it over to the west side of the pond? I'm a sucker for this sort of thing.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:57 AM on November 19, 2019

This adaptation is in the US on Peacock and other streaming services. To avoid some confusion, there was another adaptation, on Epix, with a contemporary setting, which premiered within a month of this one, and the listings have been merged on Apple TV, so the thumbnails can be misleading.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:01 AM on January 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

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