Tuesday, April 19, 2016

This is the End

I barely remember the Arthur C. Clarke novel that is the source for the TV series Childhood's End (2015). I probably read it in high school, and probably won't read it again, not while I have blogs to keep up. Fortunately, SyFy has made it into a mini-series.

It starts with an alien invasion, but a gentle one. The alien ships come and stop all wars, and that's all it takes. Mankind flourishes. Some people don't like it - they call the aliens Overlords and want to know why the aliens won't show themselves. They only communicate through one man, an American farmer/diplomat (really? Yes, this is a SyFy invention not in the original novel). But when the lead Overlord reveals himself, he looks just like a red devil - hooves, batwings, and all.

The next episode is a little scattered - a religious nut bothers a family with a strange new daughter, the farmer/diplomat gets cancer from exposure to the Overlord ship, a young scientist wants to learn more about the aliens. In general, mankind is happy, but stagnant. The end of war and want has caused an end of creativity - or maybe the Overlords are surpressing it.

The final episode reveals the purpose of the Overlords - to witness the coming of the new generation of humanity. Children are being born with strange mental powers and merging into a single mind, leaving their parents and the planet behind. Once they have transcended and old-fashioned men and women are gone, the Earth is destroyed.

Oh yeah, spoilers.

The series is well done, updating the story without losing the good old-timey sci-fi goodness. Like the old "What if the aliens look like devils? Could we trust them?" That's the kind of hook you can't really get away with anymore. And the ending is grand in a way that never gets old.

My big complaint is that the series consists of three of ~90 minutes. We need a TV series with episodes closer to 45 minutes, preferably with a lot of episodes, so we have something to watch with dinner. Pardon us for being philistines.

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