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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 invaded in the 1953 movie but “died” because of the Earth’s atmosphere didn’t really die but went into suspended animation.

The US army in one of its all-too-familiar mop-up operations, blissfully unaware that these slimy creatures were not quite dead, then put them all into individual containers and buried them, to be forgotten until 1988, when they reemerged – now called ‘Morthren’ instead of Martians (for reasons best known to the scriptwriters) – as a result of the increased radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The twist is, unlike in 1953 when they merely invaded our world, now the aliens (for reasons best known to the scriptwriters) can actually invade human bodies and take human form.

Into this picture leaps 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 gathers a small group of so-called ‘experts’ to help prevent humanity from being totally colonised by these vile creatures. And what a group it turns out to be . . .

There’s Norton Drake (Philip Akin), the black, wheelchair-bound computer whizz-kid who’s 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.

There’s Dr Suzanne McCullough (Lynda Mason Green), a geneticist/biologist whose main function appears to be to merely look pretty and scream hysterically when confronted by the aliens, instead of analysing them.

Finally – perhaps to compensate for the indignities the Native Americans suffered – there’s Colonel Paul Ironhorse (Richard Chaves), a modern-day Cherokee warrior in the US Army who, befitting his name, has nerves of steel (and presumably eats like a horse).

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.

The second season was a disaster of epic proportions and the cancellation of the show came swiftly.

Dr Harrison Blackwood
Jared Martin
Norton Drake
Philip Akin
Dr Suzanne McCullough
Lynda Mason Green
Colonel Paul Ironhorse
Richard Chaves
Denis Forest
Debi McCullough
Rachel Blanchard