Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sami on Childhood's End 1.1

Childhood's End is a three-part miniseries that started Monday Dec 14 at 8pm on Syfy.

It looks like Syfy has remembered that they're actually supposed to be the go-to channel for science fiction and other speculative TV, and they've kicked it off with a really awesome night of new programming. First up was Pt 1 of Childhood's end.

At the very beginning, they mentioned how the book this story was based on influenced a lot of SF that came after it, and they seem to have decided to give back by visually echoing a lot of that scifi that came after. There's the ships-coming-through-the-clouds like in Independence Day. There's a Monolith-looking thing like in 2001: A Space Odyssey, there's the farmhouse from Signs (and probably also any number of other movies). And it's all really well done--the effects are stunning!

Here's how it went:

In 2016, everything sucks. And then huge alien ships come down and hover over world capitals and tell us--through the images of our dead loved ones, which is not creepy at all--that they're not invading, they're fixing. Everything that's wrong will now be right, and everything they declare wrong--war, pollution, violence, illness, etc--is all over, full stop, no question. The militaries are shut down. Diseases are cured in one fell swoop. Saudi Arabia's oil pipeline is closed and refitted to carry much more vital water into irrigation systems being set up in the desert. The world's navies are refitted to take all the wasted food from the developed world to hungry people in the developing world.

All very neat and tidy.

But the aliens won't let anyone see what they look like. And people in power don't like turning over that power. And some people just don't trust anything ever.

There's a group that wants to free the world. (and creates propaganda videos the show plays like regular commercials, which makes the drastic number of actual commercials in these two hours a little easier to look at)

There's a news magnate that "would rather see the world go down the toilet under our control than flourish under theirs".

There's Ricky-the-farmer who is meant to be the intermediary between the Overlords (not at all intimidating) and the humans, even though he's just one guy and no one really believes him. The aliens won't give him a lot of actual information and keep taking his dead wife's image to talk to him, which upsets his now-almost-wife.

There's a very religious girl who talks against the aliens because when her mom saw the ships she decided that means there's no god and committed suicide. There's a lot of religious discussion in the middle of the show.

And there's a kid in a wheelchair who is a genius, but who is also really poor, with a druggie single mother and a bunch of poverty and violence around him. A drug dealer shoots him for sticking up for his mom, and the aliens heal him--which sets off the free-the-Earth people because they also kill the drug dealer because their stance on violence is there won't be any or else.

Then, fifteen years later, when everything is green and clean and people don't need to work for a living because a living is provided, when everyone is wearing the scifi-standard taupe to show that everyone is equal*, the Overlords decide that humans are ready to see what they look like.

So of course they look like the devil.

All in all, the show is pretty awesome. It's made from an old story, so there's a lot of talking and not a lot of action for big chunks of the show, and people are sort of idealized--there's a sudden and complete end of wars as soon as the aliens show up, rather than panicked riots and people shooting at the sky for the first act. There would likely have been more sex and violence if this was a newer story. But there's also a lot of really cool ideas, and it's visually very neat. If Syfy is setting the bar here for the quality and content of their new shows, they have chosen a good miniseries to do it. This is actual scifi, classic and basically optimistic, even with the underlying uncertainty that these aliens showing up out of nowhere bring with them.

I haven't read the book. I'm watching live with no idea how the story goes, and so far, I'm intrigued and impressed, and both happy and excited to see what happens in part two.

How about you guys? Have you read the book? What do you think of it, whether you have or not? Tell us in the comments, or come talk to me and the girls on Twitter!

*I hate the idea that the future has no color. Like, ugh. What a terrible fate, visually, sartorially, and decorationally.
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