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War Of The Worlds

1 9 8 8 – 1 9 9 0 (USA)
1 x 120 minute episode
42 x 60 minute episodes

Based extremely loosely on the H.G. Wells science fiction novel of the same name, the premise of this series is that many of the Martians who unsuccessfully invaded Earth in the 1953 movie didn’t really die but went into suspended animation.

Blissfully unaware that these slimy creatures were not quite dead, the US Army – in one of its all-too-familiar mop-up operations – put them all into individual metal containers and buried them.

Fast forward to 1988 and a group of these aliens (who are – for reasons best known to the scriptwriters –  now from the planet Mor-Tax, not Mars) is revived by a nuclear accident when radioactive waste contacts one of the storage containers. They begin to revive others of their kind.

The invaders have learned that to protect themselves from Earthly viruses (the cause of their demise in 1953), they must inhabit human bodies.

When the US government learns what has happened, it suppresses the
information and creates the Blackwood Project to battle the aliens, led by Astrophysicist Dr Harrison Blackwood (aka Dusty of Dallas, still looking shell-shocked after his tenure with man-eating Sue Ellen) – an urban version of Indiana Jones minus the brain.

Blackwood’s three-person secret army – called the Omega Squad – is based in a secret government safe house (Cottage 348) on 25 secured acres of land.

Dr Suzanne McCullough, (Lynda Mason Green) is a geneticist/biologist whose main function appears to be to look pretty and scream hysterically when confronted by the aliens, instead of analysing them. Suzanne is a single mother who lives at the safehouse with her teenage daughter, Debi (Rachel Blanchard) who has a dog named Guido.

Colonel Paul Ironhorse, (Richard Chaves), is a modern-day Cherokee warrior in the US Army who, befitting his name, has nerves of steel (and presumably eats like a horse).

Norton Drake (Philip Akin) is a black, wheelchair-bound computer whizz-kid (he calls his voice-activated wheelchair “Gertrude”) who is drafted by Blackwood to decipher alien messages. In the pilot episode, Drake had an awful caricature Jamaican accent, but thankfully this disappeared with the series proper.

Harrison has an aunt called Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson), who witnessed the original 1953 invasion as a young girl and can now sense when the aliens are near. Because of the traumatic shock she suffered, she now resides at a sanatorium.

The series was irritatingly inane. Harrison and his team killed aliens in every episode, yet not once did these ‘scientists’ ever bother to analyse the remains.

After all, you would think, that’s their primary task as scientists – to find out what makes them tick, to determine their physiological make-up, to discover some way of destroying them other than getting trusty Ironhorse to crudely blow them to smithereens week in and week out.

Before a dramatic storyline change, Elaine Giftos was introduced as Q’Tara, a “Synth” from the planet Qar’to. A beautiful killing android, Q’Tara was sent to Earth to aid Blackwell, destroy the Mor-Taxans and save mankind for her people’s more sinister purpose – to use Earth as a food source.

The second season revamped the storyline significantly in an effort to improve the show (and ratings) and was now set in the not-too-distant future of “Almost Tomorrow”.

When the planet Morthrai is destroyed, Morthren survivors journey to Earth and take over the war begun by the Mor-Taxans – with a goal of making Earth their new Morthrai.

In a fierce battle among the three different life forms, the Mor-Taxans are destroyed and the Earth is heavily damaged. Surviving Earthlings unite in an effort to defeat their new enemy.

Mercenary John Kincaid (Adrian Paul) joins Suzanne, Debi and Blackwood when Ironhorse and Drake are killed in battle.

The new aliens – the Morthren – are led by the Eternal; Mana (Catherine Disher) and Malzor (Denis Forest) are the two Morthrai aliens who serve the Eternal.

It was a disaster of epic proportions and the cancellation of the show came swiftly.

Dr Harrison Blackwood
Jared Martin
Dr Suzanne McCullough
Lynda Mason Green
Norton Drake
Philip Akin
Colonel Paul Ironhorse
Richard Chaves
Debi McCullough
Rachel Blanchard
John Kincaid
Adrian Paul
Catherine Disher
Denis Forest
Sylvia Van Buren
Ann Robinson
Elaine Giftos