Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: War of the Worlds, the series ep 35

Pied Piper is the thirty-fifth episode of War of the Worlds, the series, and features the first Morthren born on Earth.  You'll remember him, he was born to a kindly old lady back in Breeding Ground.  They're calling him Adam now.  Adam isn't getting his human emotional needs met, and so Malzor sends him to the Creche, a human institution for genetically engineered test-tube babies that masquerades as an ordinary school for the gifted.  Thus, Adam will get what he needs while helping out the Morthren cause, reporting back human progress on improving itself.  Suzanne is called in to help reach the distant Adam, as she is a friend of the director of the Creche.  What she sees concerns her, even before Adam starts to rack up a body count. When she returns with her posse to bust Adam out, she finds out what he is and thwarts his mission to steal the children.  She does allow him to return to Malzor with all the Creche's records on genetic experimentation, though.

The Good: There are some nice character moments.  The Julie's dreaming about flying felt like a very real response to the oppressiveness of her environment.  Martin's dream of the loss of his son had a human violence to it that was nice, especially when he shouted "Don't you ever threaten me, bitch!" to his wife.

I liked the idea of Adam's perception powers.  He can manifest visions of Mana to communicate with, share his dreams with his fellow students, or turn them against his captors. 

Suzanne has now made peaceful contact with an alien, as Harrison, Kincaid, and Debi have done before.  It's interesting to me that, of all of them, she's last.  Somehow she seems the most open-minded about this sort of thing.

The Creche is a terrifically dull place in most respects.  I like that way the imaginarium is done up, though.  It seems a bit ahead of its time.  I also like the conceit that there's one room for scheduled imagining, and the rest of the time bleakness reigns.

I like the continuity with Adam.  Also, him manifesting as Patrick, Martin's dead son, is appropriately creepy.

The Bad: Coincidence.  Suzanne just so happens to be the godmother to a child killed by the director of the Creche?  Boo! It's another symptom of the limitations of the format of S2.

The debate between  Martin and Suzanne seemed stilted.  It's as if the producers wanted to slam genetic engineering but didn't have a good idea about how to do so.

The whole episode has a bit of a Village of the Damned feel to it that I can't shake.  Maybe it's just the subject matter, but it seems a smidge derivative to me.

The Ugly: There is a complete paucity of gore in this episode.  No funky alien tech, and even the human bodies have no marks on them as a result of the mechanism of Adam's assault.  I'm forced to fall back to Martin's death by jumping from a window.

Another fairly standard S2 episode.  A bad coincidence to get us in the door, some attempts to explore social themes, a bit of action.  The aims are more ambitious than the execution, but that's not such a bad sin.   War of the Worlds: The Final Season, is available  for purchase on DVD.   (In fact, this is the first review where I've been able to watch it in high quality, as opposed to crummy YouTube videos.  I hope you appreciate the difference in screen grab quality.)


Anonymous said...

Another thing that should go under the bad section is thanks to the enhanced quality of the dvd set, the scene where the woman nurse is set ablaze by Adam looks completely fake. It's very easy to tell that it's someone wearing some sort of outer covering to protect them from the fire made to look like the nurse screaming. The face of this covering was done very badly, and doesn't even remotely resemble a real person's face.

I didn't like this episode at all. Probably because it followed "Time to Reap", which despite its faults I found enjoyable. "Time to Reap" made me feel a definite connection with the aliens from the movie/season 1 and these aliens. This episode however, for me at least, completely removes that connection once again, and feels like a typical season 2 episode; bad. Couple that with the fact that children make horrible actors and never really enhance anything in a movie or television show and it makes for one poor episode.

The Sultan of Sarcasm said...

Nice review as always. "The Pied Piper" is a mixed bag for me. There are some things that work particularly, the shot of Adam appearing as Patrick. And also, I liked when the camera panned back to reveal Mana in the teaser. I did like the idea that the children were genetically engineered- but as you mentioned, they really didn't explore that theme that much.

This episode definitely felt like Village of the Damned and The Omen meeting War of the Worlds. I don't like the idea of Adam having these abilities though, because it just seems to come out left field.

The coincidence with Martin's ex-wife being Suzanne's best friend is hard to swallow, especially since Suzanne stated in season 1 that she traveled abroad quite often, and didn't stay in one place. It makes this supposedly close friendship hard to believe.

I think the direction in the episode is good and this episode has some great visuals, but it didn't come together.

Also, the beatdown that Kincaid and Harrison received was kind of just thrown together. They get beat up, and these shadowy types are never to be seen again. It seemed like they were there to end an act solely- as opposed to serve any real purpose in the narrative of the episode.

dysamoria said...

wow, season 2 is out on DVD! thanks for the note! i just added it to my wish list... so eager to see it in not-crappy youtube quality... been decades!!

dysamoria said...

there are two things i like about this episode and they're tiny.

1. we're reminded that, yes indeed, the Morthren ARE ALIEN, by way of Suzanne pointing out the size of the heart and lungs on the x-ray of the alien hybrid child.

2. the Eternal appears for what seems his own motivation in regards to the children (including the humans) and there's only a very narrow margin by which the Blackwood team miss seeing him (?)

it was suggested (i cannot remember by who) that the plan for the Eternal was to slowly reveal that the Morthren were slave to a false god but that never materialized due to the short ending of the season with the series ending entirely. the Eternal's function is therefore relegated to a seemingly uninvolved ultimate leader.