H.G. Wells’ seminal sci-fi classic The War of the Worlds has been given a makeover by the BBC. The series was delayed from its original release last year but finally premiered last night (Sunday, November 17). Although the miniseries starring Rafe Spall and Eleanor Tomlinson tried to stay closer to the original source text, many fans were disappointed by the drama.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from The War of the Worlds
Episode one of The War of the Worlds set up the story as audiences were immersed in Victorian Britain and an unsuspecting public went about their daily business.
In all of this, viewers were introduced to the central characters George (played by Spall) and Amy (Tomlinson) as they gazed up at the stars.
The pair were revealed to be lovers with George leaving his wife Lucy (Aisling Jarrett-Gavin) amid a messy divorce.
While the productions values were high and there were some stellar performances, audience members were left unimpressed.
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One person posted: “I’ve waited a long time for BBC’s #WarOfTheWorlds (which is my all time favourite novel) but I have to say I’m left feeling rather disappointed, felt like the show didn’t even care about its premise.”
While a second viewer tweeted: “Selfish perhaps. But I don’t really care for the characters, however will someone tell me the dog is okay. #WarOfTheWorlds.”
A third person added: “#WarOfTheWorlds was excited to watch but left feeling a little disappointed tbh, enjoying listening to the reading of the original writing of HG Wells on BBC Sounds far more!”
However, others defended the series and complimented the miniseries: “Crackin’ night of tele on a Sunday night for a change… #Strictly #HisDarkMaterials and #WarOfTheWorlds – didn’t budge from my chair (apart from making a brew and eating mince pies!).”
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Another wrote: “Meanwhile I also loved #WarOfTheWorlds last night – the story is a family favourite. Very happy to see Eleanor Tomlinson in another prominent role (with obvs the best character name)… awesome female leads everywhere!”
Someone else agreed: “#WarOfTheWorlds on the BBC, brilliant first episode, looking forward to episode two, amazing attention to detail and for any meteorite fans out there, who caught the line about Cape York?”
Speaking about his adaptation, writer and executive producer Peter Harkness said: “What I wanted to do by setting the story close to the period it was originally intended to be set, was to use the end of the Victorian and start of the Edwardian empire as a way of making parallels of how the world looks now.
“By doing this we can explore what crossovers there are regarding politics, invasion, colonialism and empire building.
“As a screenwriter and adaptor you are tweaking the narrative in different ways, perhaps moving certain characters higher in the mix or telling a slightly different character story or as I have done, added a different dystopian strand to the script in order to make that work.
“You then also have to provide the audience with something that they expect to balance it all out. So the audience will want to see the larger set piece sequences such as the cylinder buried in Horsell Common and the heat ray and the Thunder Child battleship scene, and London being destroyed for example.
“We’ve made some quite interesting choices on how we depict those events which I hope will deliver it to an audience that will still be a surprise.”
Harkness said the reason he wanted to to focus on the characters was down to the original source text feeling too much like a piece of reportage.
He wanted the show feel more like a drama rather than a report of events which the novel does as it charts the advancement of the aliens and their invasion of Earth.
War of the Worlds airs on BBC One on Sundays at 9pm