Here’s why you’ll want to avoid BBC’s savagely awful ‘War of the Worlds’
There’s a sort of strange cultural mythology around War of the Worlds. The H.G. Wells story is more known for the infamous Orson Welles radio adaptation of it. You know the story, places thought it was real? Did pandemonium ensue and all that? The Welles adaptation is still considered to largely be the best. If you like audio drama podcasts, then it’s definitely worth giving this classic a listen.
Less successful, however, are attempts to adapt the story to film and television. Do we really need to remind you about the less than successful Spielberg adaptation of the material? More recently, back in 2019, the BBC tried their hand at it.
Oh boy, it was bad. Here’s why you shouldn’t watch it.
Audiences hated it
On Rotten Tomatoes, War of the Worlds has a respectable 67% from critics. The audience score, however, is not as glowing. Audiences are giving the BBC series at 19% score. Yeah, audiences hated it.
From the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, here are just some of the reactions.
Bruce H. wrote, “When I watched it all I could do was weep. What’s wrong with the original story? Would it have been so hard to do? Why has it now got to have a feminist agenda. Can some things just be left alone? Truly terrible. Just left me feeling empty and let down.”
Andrew Z. said that it made him miss the 2005 film.
“I did not read, nor know much of the original War of the Worlds, therefore I cannot contribute to a comparison, the only one I know is 2005 movie, which was way more exciting.”
Over on Twitter, @Dwarvenhobble wrote, “So BBC put out their version of The War of The Worlds on DVD recently. Avoid it. The series is mini-series is awful. If you want to know why I wrote a big long blog ripping it apart pointing out all the issues I could see.”
@RoSPA_Tim gave a detailed tweet as to why he hated it, “What a terrible waste of some fine actors. The script writers, producers and directors should hold their heads in shame. That was truly dreadful. It made Tom Cruises monstrosity look half decent. Such amazing potential, such appalling delivery. #waroftheworlds”
@ElvisAintDead97 just didn’t like the ending, “I don’t know how long it has been since war of the worlds ended on bbc 1 but I am so shocked and annoyed at how they ended it”
@JLuis_001 also didn’t like the ending, comparing it to Dracula.
“The War of the Worlds – ☆☆½ This was basically like the recent Dracula, also from the BBC. Things were good at the beginning and they messed up towards the ending.”
@EvilBlowfish said that the series only grew worse as time passed.
“Well … I stuck with #waroftheworlds … and it managed to get worse? So I guess it impressed me in one way at least”
So the viewing public aren’t fans of it, which is a shame. On paper, the idea is interesting. It’s War of the Worlds, but set in Edwardian Era UK.
Critics may have liked it, but were still meh on the whole thing
War of the Worlds was better received critically than by audiences with a 67% score for the first season. Mostly, they were more or less indifferent to the whole enterprise. Honestly, they have a similar thought to audiences. War of the Worlds starts strong, but has a disappointing finish all things considered.
Deborah Ross from The Mail on Sunday (UK) writes, “The production values are shabby. The thing that landed in Surrey looked like a giant coconut constructed from papier-mâché. It was all very Doctor Who, circa 1973.”
Louisa Mellor of Den of Geek suspected that it mostly came down to audience expectations.
“It’s mostly down to tone and pace, but also expectations. Hear the title The War Of The Worlds and your mind sets off fireworks. Martians! Heat rays! The music of Jeff Wayne! Fighting machines and dun-dun-DUN-doodle-oo-doodle-oo! That’s not what this version sets out to deliver.”
Carol Midgley of the Times UK said that the adaptation was fine and possibly brought something new to the Wells story, giving its three out of five stars.
Should I watch it?
If you want to give War of the Worlds an honest shot, then please go for it. If you like to see how bad it will be, then go for it. Just don’t go in expecting a lot of good stuff to come out of the series.