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Look out! Aliens!

Cut-price sci-fi - it's hard to beat, mostly for its sheer enthusiasm. A group of actors cower in fear from a giant rubber monster, whilst doing their damnedest not to knock over the obviously cardboard scenery. Tonight's eighties TV theme (actually there's two of them) is a celebration of the sort of science fiction show that could really have used a big budget (or, indeed, any kind of budget at all), but instead got landed with barely enough to keep the cameras rolling. Still, what they lack in money, they usually make up for with imagination.

First up, chronologically speaking, is the little remembered Otherworld. I say little remembered - in actual fact it seems that elenopa and I were the only people in the whole of the UK who ever saw it. It lasted only a handful of episodes before being consigned to the dustbin of history, but it managed to pack a fair bit in anyway. A family, on holiday in Egypt, got lost inside a pyramid, and wound up in another world. As you do. They then made absolutely no attempt to get home, but instead ran blindly around trying to get themselves shot by the authorities. I have clear memories of only one episode of this show, in which they found themselves in a city ruled by women (just about every sci-fi show covers that plot at some point). Teenage son Trace (played by Tony O'Dell of Karate Kid and Head Of The Class) inadvertently broke the rules and got himself sold. For some reason this involved glitter make-up, very little clothing, and an auctioneer dressed in sparkly black feathers; and trust me, that all takes quite some explaining when your mother chooses that precise moment to come in and see what you're watching. As opening sequences go, this isn't exactly one of the most exciting, but I just found that the entire series has been posted on YouTube, so I'm celebrating. I may not still be, once I've seen an episode or two, but for the time being - yay!

And then next we have one of the all time classics - 1989's zero-budget gore-fest The War Of The Worlds. This one had a terrific concept. Not only was the HG Wells book the truth, but so was the infamous Orson Welles radio broadcast, and the 1953 movie. Aliens! Everywhere! Orphaned in the 1953 invasion, Harrison Blackwood had dedicated his life to seeking out aliens, presumably just in case any more decided to come and have a go; when suddenly - surprise! - some aliens came along. Harrison, who managed to combine being a scientific genius with pacifism, vegetarianism, insomnia, and just generally being a bit weird, was a sort of Canadian Doctor Who, battling evil with a tuning fork and a sun hat. Helping him out were a computer genius in a semi-intelligent wheelchair, a permanently confused biologist, and the spectacularly earnest Colonel Ironhorse. Nobody in this show spoke normally if there was even the slightest excuse to deliver a line in Super Serious Mode. It was like a gathering of the world's most intense people, all frowning at each other, and saying very dramatic things. Meanwhile, people melted and bubbled away into pools of multi-coloured goo, other people got their arms torn off, and small boys got dragged away to certain death by gradually rotting aliens disguised as their grandparents.


Then they revamped the lot for season two, and it was no fun anymore. Bah.


( 5 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Jun. 16th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC)
How did I miss War of the Worlds? It looks just so bad!

Thanks to you, I now have the title for Otherworld. I remember the opening episode where everyone was a robot, the women ruling one, the Beauty and the Beast one, the one where the kids make a rock band using Beatles songs, and the one where the daughter was made a queen after they landed in a balloon.

Typical American family, right down to the third child that is quite a bit younger than the teenagers. And why did every zone they travelled to look remarkably like the Califonian suburbs?

I shall have to look it up on Youtube.
Jun. 16th, 2010 09:30 pm (UTC)

Episode one isn't bad at all, as it turns out. It's hardly dynamic, but it's engaging enough in its way. Jonathon Banks is quite an effective bad guy, but the parents are a bit bland.

As for WOTW, it varied. Some episodes were really very good indeed. Others... not so much. :D Not surprised that you missed it, though. It aired very late at night.
Jun. 16th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
Don't know of Otherworld, was that a U.K series? War of the worlds I sort of remember, but I was confusing it with Alien Nation, remember that one? lol. Funny explanations as always! :D
Jun. 16th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
Dopey me..HELLO..Otherworld had an American narrator and looked totally American..never mind! LOL.
Jun. 16th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
Definitely American, yes. :) I don't seem to have watched much as a kid that wasn't American. British shows never seemed quite as much fun.
( 5 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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