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HTF REVIEW: War of the Worlds - The Complete First Season

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#1 of 8 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted October 31 2005 - 10:23 AM

Posted Image
War of the Worlds - The Complete First Season

Studio: Paramount

Year: 1988 - 1989

Rated: NR

Length: 18 Hours, 6 Minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: Dolby Digital English Stereo

Closed Captioned

Special Features:None

Suggested Retail Price: $39.99 USD
Release Date: November 1, 2005

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.

Special Features

Final Thoughts
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.

#2 of 8 OFFLINE   Paul Arnette

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Posted November 01 2005 - 01:55 AM


Thanks for your honest appraisal of both this television show and its DVD. I seem to really remember enjoying this show when I was a kid, but I was only 15 at the time.

Based on what you wrote, I think I will pass on revisting this show. While my tastes aren't exactly discerning now, I'm sure they're a little more discrening than they used to be. Posted Image That and the poor A/V quality seals the no deal for me.

Thanks again.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#3 of 8 OFFLINE   Darren Gross

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Posted November 21 2005 - 12:06 PM

Well, for those that can't resist a bargain, even at the disappointing transfers, Best Buy is selling this for only $14.99 but only for Tuesday/Wednesday Nov. 22 and 23rd!

#4 of 8 OFFLINE   FrancisP



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Posted November 21 2005 - 06:28 PM

That's the only reason that I am getting it. For $30, I would have waited for it to come down. I will say this much about the pilot, the original designs of the martian warships still hold up well 35 years later and it was nice to see them back in action.

#5 of 8 OFFLINE   Lee Jamilkowski

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Posted November 28 2005 - 11:05 AM

I got this set for the good, cheap price at Best Buy. I heard that the logo was changed, though, for the DVDs (I haven't opened the set up yet), and that it no longer shows an alien hand grasping the Earth. Is this true?
Go to see the film An Inconvenient Truth - one of the most important films of a generation.

Watch the I've Got Munchies podcast.

#6 of 8 OFFLINE   Darren Gross

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Posted November 28 2005 - 11:22 AM

The logo thing is probably noted by someone who only watched the first episode which has different credits than later episodes, probably due to it being a pilot. Got this one for the low price, but man, it looks lousy. Exactly like watching a broadcast tape from 16 years ago. Probably the worst image quality from a big studio tv release yet, though since the effects were probably finished on video (ala ST: TNG), I doubt there's much they could do for those sequences at least... I'm 99% certain these were mastered from the analog 1-inch broadcast tapes and no film elements were gone back to at all. (That's my comments re: disc 1, as I have not checked out the others yet, and supposedly there's a quality bump later on.)

#7 of 8 OFFLINE   Brett*H


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Posted November 30 2005 - 07:29 AM

This show looked soft and fuzzy,picture-wise, when it was originally broadcast on television.

It doesn't surprise me at all that this release had little or no clean-up.It was just sort of thrown out on the market to coincide with(and cash in on)the release of the motion picture remake. Posted Image

#8 of 8 OFFLINE   Anthony Hom

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Posted November 30 2005 - 09:00 AM

The first season stories became more interesting when the character of Ironhorse took on a bigger role, he was clearly the best character on the show. Then in the start of season 2, they kill him off, in the first episode. The series went down the drain after that moment.

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