War of Worlds: Series 2 DVD

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 08:40
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War of the Worlds TV Series - Final Season out on DVDSet in the near future, the second and final season of “War of the Worlds” gets off to a shocking start. Two of the regular and much-loved characters are killed off, the team’s base is destroyed and the remaining members go on the run from the aliens. When all seems lost, they bump into John Kincaid (Adrian Paul – Highlander, “Eyeborgs”), a well-connected freedom fighter who dwells in a secret industrial basement. Our heroes get a brief chance to regroup and live to fight another day.

Meanwhile, a new race of aliens is in town – the dastardly Morthren. Their goal is the same as the last bunch of bug-eyed extra terrestrials, only this time they have the benefit of living amongst a human civilisation that is decaying rapidly. Undesirables rule the streets, government troops gun down innocents and every man, woman and child is left to fend for themselves. With mankind divided and in disarray, it is an environment ripe for an alien invasion.

Fans of the first season of War of the Worlds are in for a bumpy ride, there is no getting away from it. Where episodes from season one were spiced up with playful banter between the members of the Blackwood Project, and the crazy alien plans often had a light-hearted tone to them (not least thanks to the comical alien dialogue), now everything is dark, moody and desperate. Even without the aliens’ malignant intent, mankind is seemingly teetering on the edge of self-destruction.

Our heroes have changed. Harrison Blackwood (Jared Martin) sports a beard to make him look more serious (it really does change his visage completely, though rarely smiling also helps!), and worst of all, the contemplative tuning fork has gone. Suzanne McCullough (Lynda Mason Green) gets scant opportunity to be glamorous now, and her daughter Debi (Rachel Blanchard) is growing up fast and wants to join in.

Food and water are hard to come by, those forced to walk down the street to get supplies are likely to get mugged, and living conditions are tough. The better elements of society such as the church and farming co-operatives stand together and help each other out, but they are outnumbered by gangs and chaos-embracing nihilists who at best do not care or at worst actively mean others harm.

This time around, the aliens maintain a humanoid form at all times, with the exception of their one true god – the Eternal – a one-eyed, floating, tentacled beast that resembles a beholder (role-playing game fans will know what I mean). Rather than taking over the bodies of humans by absorbing them, the Morthren use cloning chambers, a bit like the pods in the various “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” movies. All of the Morthen’s technology is organic, fleshy and membranous (perhaps they are related to Doctor Who’s Zygons?!).

The Morthren are led by Malzor (Denis Forest – “The Mask”, “Cliffhanger”) and Mana (Catherine Disher – Forever Knight), backed up by Ardix (played by the skeletal Julian Richings - Supernatural, “Cube”). As great as the weird Advocate costumes from the first season were, they never allowed the boss alien characters a chance to act much; now they can, albeit in a stereotypically cold and calculating manner most of the time.

Along with pretty much everything else, the theme music and title sequence have also changed, and frankly for the better. Now we get a superbly atmospheric, floating and winding trip over and through the foggy, run-down city, accompanied by the sound of a panicking radio DJ who is wondering why and when it all went so wrong. It sets the doom-laden scene perfectly. The closing credits music is diabolical, though, and not as madly catchy as the first season’s.

Negative points about the final season would have to be that the sudden change in tone does take a few episodes to get accustomed to, and the fact that the grotty, drab city streets and industrial buildings featured in many of the episodes get a bit tired after a while. A trip to the countryside part-way through helps to clear the air, but you can guarantee that even there, some sinister alien plan is being hatched.

The reuse of plots from season one such as music embedded with subliminal messages is also a bit lazy. As for Adrian Paul, well his laid-back acting style also takes some getting used to, but he is charismatic enough to get away with it!

Fans of the grittier entries in TV and movie sci-fi such as “Escape from New York”, Alien Nation and even “Mad Max” will enjoy this, and lovers of the more upbeat first season should stick with it, too. The fun and games might have been wiped from the face of the Earth, but in their place we get a more grown-up series with a lot of atmosphere and some great episodes.

War of the Worlds: The Final Season is out now, courtesy of Revelation Films.  The five-disc set has a running time of 913 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £34.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

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