War of the Worlds - The Complete First Season
Year: 1988 - 1989
Length: 18 Hours, 6 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Dolby Digital English Stereo
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99 USD
Taking place in 1988 (present day, when the show aired), The War of the Worlds transpires some 35 years after the George Pal film version hit the big screen. This television series is a sequel, of sorts, to that film.
It seems that, after the war with the aliens, the alien remains were packaged in canisters and dumped in various places around the Earth. It also seems that they weren’t dead.
In order to protect themselves from the viruses and bacteria that subdued them in 1953, they must inhabit human bodies. So, this becomes sort of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The aliens can’t last forever in their human hosts, however, so besides seeking out and resurrecting their alien brethren, they must change hosts frequently, as well.
This becomes standard horror fare pretty quickly, with episodes becoming repetitive after awhile.
The Martian ship models were recreated for the series (the originals had been destroyed years before). Special effects were fairly faithful to George Pal’s vision. There was even some contribution to the show by an original film cast member - Ann Robinson reprises her role as Sylvia.
With all of that promise, repetitive plots and some really poor acting were detriments to the show. To be fair on the acting, though - some of the dialog was so corny that I don’t think anyone could deliver the lines well. Both the dialog and the performances do improve with time.
The show was mildly interesting, for a while - but ultimately forgettable.
The transfers of these War of the Worlds episodes leave a lot to be desired. I didn’t view the entire season for the review - but I watched the first few episodes and sampled episodes from later in the season.
Each episode is presented in its original full-screen format. None of them look great. While there is a notable improvement in quality midway through the season, the quality is fair at best - and very poor at worst.
Expect to see poor detail, muddy colors and poor shadow detail. You’ll see some occasional fringing around edges - not enhancement, but rather artifacts from the video source. Macroblocking and pixelation are occasionally evident. The softness and muddiness gives the impression of the episodes being shot out of focus, or through a vaseline coated lens.
Midway through the season, detail improves a bit (this does NOT mean there is good detail), colors become more defined, there is more shadow detail, and less artifacting is present. It is a substantial improvement, but only makes it from poor to fair, overall.
The audio is presented in stereo, as it originally aired. Frequency response is acceptable, but somewhat lacking in the low end. Dialog is always clear and intelligible, but somehow lacks resonance and authority. Music and effects take some advantage of some stereo steering, but on the whole, the show’s audio is fairly flat. I’d say it is representative of the period in which the show originally aired, though.
A so-so interpretation of George Pal’s interpretation of H.G. Wells’ classic story has deviated a bit too far from the source material, in my opinion. It’s an okay show once it gets going, but it requires patience to watch.
As for the transfers... I can only assume the source material was poor to begin with. It really isn’t a pretty picture, even on a small screen.